Coronavirus: Commission proposes an updated framework for travel from outside the EU, prioritising vaccinated travellers, with strong safeguards
The Commission is proposing to update the Council recommendation on non-essential travel from outside the EU to simplify the framework and reflect recent developments. Priority will be given to vaccinated travellers. Member States should reopen systematically to those vaccinated with vaccines having completed the WHO emergency use listing process, in addition to reopening to those vaccinated with EU-approved vaccines as is the case today. As an essential safeguard, proof of a negative PCR test will always be required for all travellers who have been vaccinated with a WHO approved vaccine which is not approved by the European Medicines Agency, and for recovered travellers. The updates also introduce a time limit of 9 months for the acceptance of vaccination certificates after the primary vaccination series. This takes into account the guidance of ECDC regarding the administration of booster doses as of 6 months after completion of the primary vaccination series and provides for an additional period of 3 months to ensure that national vaccination campaigns can adjust and people can have access to the administration of boosters. The updates also include acceptance of vaccination certificates issued after an additional (“booster”) dose. In addition, considering the increasing vaccination uptake worldwide, the Commission proposes to discontinue the list of countries from where all travellers are allowed regardless of vaccination status, as of 1 March next year. This proposal will now be considered by the Council.
In parallel, the Commission is also proposing updates to the Council recommendation on free movement within the EU.
Further reopening to vaccinated and recovered travellers, subject to strong safeguards
Member States should continue welcoming travellers vaccinated with EU-approved vaccines. They should similarly as of 10 January 2022 reopen to all those vaccinated with vaccines having completed the WHO emergency use listing process (they are free to choose whether to accept such WHO vaccines under the current rules). This update will ensure simpler and more coherent rules across the EU, making it easier for vaccinated travellers to plan their trip.
Those who recovered from COVID-19 within 180 days before their trip and have either an EU Digital COVID Certificate or a certificate deemed equivalent should also be able to travel to the EU as of 10 January 2022.
This comes with strong safeguards: travellers who have been vaccinated with a WHO approved vaccine which is not approved by the European Medicines Agency and recovered travellers should systematically show proof of a negative PCR test taken before departure. This will ensure that the reopening takes place safely, considering that the virus can sometimes break through immunity.
In addition, all vaccinated travellers should have either completed their primary vaccination series less than 9 months ago or received an additional dose. This would also apply as of 10 January 2022. The 9-month acceptance period takes into account the guidance of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the administration of booster doses as of 6 months, and provides for an additional period of 3 months to ensure that national vaccination campaigns can adjust and people can have access to boosters.
Member States should accept non-EU vaccination and recovery certificates deemed equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificate. For countries where no such equivalence is in place, Member States can continue accepting, under their own national law, proof of testing and vaccination issued by non-EU countries, taking into account the need to be able to verify their authenticity, validity and integrity.
Lastly, the revised rules clarify that children between 6 and 17 should be able to travel to the EU with a negative PCR test done before departure even if they are not vaccinated. Member States could require additional testing after arrival, quarantine or self-isolation. Test and vaccination are not required for children under 6.
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