European Commission wants end to travel restrictions for vaccinated tourists

The European Commission proposed easing restrictions on business and leisure travel for those who have been fully inoculated against Covid-19, adding to signs of a gradual return to normalcy as vaccinations gather pace.

The European Union’s executive arm recommended welcoming tourists from countries with relatively low infection rates as well as those who are fully vaccinated, according to a statement Monday. The proposals require approval from member states and a Commission official said he was hopeful they would be adopted by the end of this month.

The new parameters would replace a current blanket ban for non-essential travel to the EU for residents of all but a handful of countries that has been in place for more than a year.

The bloc is working on the introduction of a vaccine passport system that will ease travel for those inoculated or can prove that they have recently recovered from the coronavirus and are thus considered immune.

Member states would be obliged to accept proof for all shots approved in the EU — including those produced by Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE, AstraZeneca Plc and Moderna Inc. — and would accept vaccination proof from non-European countries.

The commission said that vaccines that have completed the World Health Organization emergency use listing process may also be included.

At the same time, the new rules would allow member states to ban all travel from countries where coronavirus variants of concern emerge, through a so-called emergency brake.

The Commission will draw up a list of approved vaccination certificates issued by non-EU countries. Discussions with Washington will hopefully lead to the introduction of a uniform certificate that meets the EU’s security and accuracy standards, according to a commission official briefing reporters in Brussels.

Read: Some good news for South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout

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