Covid tourism

EU ready to reopen borders for vaccinated US tourists this summer

US tourists have been absent from Paris and across the European Union since autumn of last year.
US tourists have been absent from Paris and across the European Union since autumn of last year. REUTERS - Benoit Tessier

Tourists from the United States who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be allowed to visit the European Union in the coming months, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has said.

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In an interview with The New York Times von der Leyen said the EU was planning major changes in policy as vaccinations stepped up across the world. 

"The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines. This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union," the president of the European Commission said.  

"Because one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA."

Von der Leyen gave no timetable, but The Times said that new rules could be in place by the summer.

The EMA, the EU's drug regulator, has approved the three vaccines being used in the United States -- Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

'Vaccine passport'

The Times said the US's rapid vaccination programme, and progress in talks over how to use vaccine certificates, were behind the plan to allow the return of leisure travel from the US to EU.

Von der Leyen said that the United States was making "huge progress" and noted it was on track to vaccinate 70 percent of adults by the middle of June.

Resumption of travel would depend "on the epidemiological situation, but the situation is improving in the United States, as it is, hopefully, also improving in the European Union," she added.

The pandemic has ravaged tourism on the continent, with many nations shutting borders for non-essential travel.

Greece said last week that travellers from the EU and five other countries who are vaccinated or have a recent negative Covid test will no longer have to quarantine on arrival.

The country is eager to reopen its badly hit tourism sector and has ramped up its vaccine rollout in the hopes of building up immunity among residents.

The European Union has said it wants to launch a vaccine passport for travellers, though plans have not yet been formalised.

(with AFP)

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