European Union eyes letting fully vaccinated tourists into bloc

Italy is gradually reopening after six months of rotating virus closures allowing outdoor dining

Commission wants to reopen Europe to non-EU tourists

After almost a year of closed borders, the European Union could open in June to fully vaccinated vacationers from countries with low Covid infection rates in time for summer under a plan revealed on Monday.

The EU's executive recommended on Monday that foreign citizens fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and those coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation be allowed to travel into the bloc without additional restrictions.

The proposals, published by the European Commission, advised that arrivals must have been inoculated 14 days before arrival with a vaccine from its approved list, including BioNTech/Pfizer, Oxford University/AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.

"We risk being at a competitive disadvantage with other countries who are looking to safely open up to people who are vaccinated", he said.

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The proposal is still subject to change, and will ultimately need the approval of E.U. member states in addition to the European Commission, the bureaucracy that wrote it.

While the European Commission recommendation talks about vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency, it says other Covid-19 vaccines accepted by the World Health Organization for emergency-use jabs may be added later.

The Commission will draw up a list of approved vaccination certificates issued by non-EU countries.

As it stands, though, neither Russia's Sputnik V vaccine nor ones made by China would be included, excluding jabs that are used in dozens of lower-income countries. The UN health agency has approved the same four vaccines as the EMA and is expected to make a ruling soon on China's Sinopharm vaccine. "But we see how quickly the situation in the U.S. is evolving, notably for the rate of vaccination".

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Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, said: "It is frustrating the UK has not gone down the same road as the European Union, with ministers here still reluctant to acknowledge we can be more ambitious with our own plans, taking advantage of one of the most impressive vaccination programmes in the world, alongside quicker, cheaper testing and our globally renowned genomic sequencing capability".

The European Commission Monday said it wants to ease restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU - with the caveat of an emergency brake system to quickly counter the spread of any new coronavirus variants.

"Until the digital green certificate is operational, member states should be able to accept certificates from non-EU countries", the Commission said, adding that unvaccinated children should be able to travel with their vaccinated parents if they provide a negative PCR test. The cards were given out to those who have had one vaccine dose or those who recovered from COVID-19.

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That includes 1,659,079 first doses - enough to protect about 32 per cent of the provincial population - and 90,296 second doses.

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