European Union to reopen borders to vaccinated tourists

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The European Union agreed on Wednesday to allow quarantine-free travel for vaccinated tourists, making it easier for Americans and other non-Europeans to visit the continent this summer.

Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries approved a European Commission proposal Wednesday to widen the definition of coronavirus “safe” countries and to allow fully vaccinated tourists in from most countries. The new rules are expected to be finalized later this week and implemented soon after, although there has been no exact date set for when tourists will be allowed to arrive.

The United States is not expected to be on the new list of safe countries, but fully vaccinated Americans would be welcome in Europe. Nevertheless, individual EU nations will be able to set additional coronavirus restrictions if they chose to.

Tourists who have been fully vaccinated with shots approved by the European health regulators or by the World Health Organization will be allowed onto the continent, including the three big U.S. vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

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Nonvaccinated travelers can also enter Europe without quarantining if they come from “safe” countries that have controlled the coronavirus pandemic. This means a nation must have fewer than 75 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the previous 14 days, up from the current cutoff rate of no more than 25 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

The EU put significant restrictions on nonessential travel in 2020 during the height of the pandemic and has not yet loosened its travel barriers. Some economies have been particularly badly hit by the pandemic-induced restrictions, especially tourist dependent countries such as Greece and Italy. Greece, Italy, and France took large hits, too, of more than 8% each to their GDP in 2020, while Spain's economy shrunk by 11%.

The EU is currently in the process of testing “green certificates” that would allow tourists that have been fully vaccinated to display this evidence on a smartphone app or as a printed document, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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The U.S. is allowing Americans to travel to Europe, but they do need to provide a negative coronavirus test before flying back. The U.S. is also not allowing European tourists in, which is something that may change in the near future with Europe's increased vaccinations and decreased coronavirus cases.





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