EU chief confirms that vaccinated Americans can travel to Europe this summer

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Americans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to visit the EU this summer, president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has vowed.

“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” von der Leyen told The New York Times.

“This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.

“Because one thing is clear: the 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines approved by the EMA”, Von der Leyen said.

US health authorities have recommended the Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, all of which are also authorised for use in the EU.The president of the EU Commission did not spell out a timeline on when exactly US tourists would be able to visit EU countries or what documentation they would need, however the European Parliament is debating vaccine passports on Wednesday, April 28th. The European Union halted all non-essential travel to the bloc in March 2020 to limit the spread of coronavirus. While border policy is a matter for individual member states, the EU has adopted some rules across the bloc particularly around travel from outside Europe. 

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Last month the head of the European Commission vaccines task force, Thierry Breton, unveiled the first European “health passport”, claiming he hopes Europe will have a summer season “comparable to last year”.  The provisional plans for the health passport include an option to show either a vaccination certificate or a recent Covid test.

The new health certificate should be available “within two to three months” in both digital and paper formats. Americans who are frequent visitors to European countries have been eagerly awaiting news that governments will relax travel restrictions, but with a third wave of Covid-19 infections hitting much of Europe their hopes have been dashed. The EU’s initially slow vaccine rollout has also hampered the chances that borders would soon reopen to non-essential travel from outside the bloc. And for the time being at least Americans have been advised not to travel to Europe, even if they are vaccinated. Last week the US government increased its travel warning for most EU countries to “Level 4 – Do Not Travel”, citing “very high” Covid-19 numbers. 

The warning does not bar Americans from travel to these countries, however the Department of State warns that insurance policies may not be valid. What is “essential” travel?

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The EU does not define what counts as an “imperative reason”, however people who can travel into the European bloc now include:

  • Citizens of an EU country
  • Non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home
  • Healthcare workers engaged in crucial work on the coronavirus crisis
  • Frontier workers and in some circumstances seasonal workers
  • Delivery drivers
  • Diplomats, humanitarian or aid workers
  • Passengers in transit
  • Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons
  • Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons
  • Third country nationals travelling for the purpose of study
  • Highly qualified third-country workers IF their employment is essential from an economic perspective and cannot be postponed or performed abroad

Find more details on the exemptions here.

Source: The Local