EU countries updated on Tuesday the bloc’s travel recommendations, allowing as of March 1 the entry of fully vaccinated international travelers and those who recovered from COVID-19 within six months.
The amendment to the temporary restriction of non-essential travel to the EU is based on the recent evolution of the pandemic and the increase in vaccination rates, the Council of the European Union, representing EU member states, announced in a statement.
Under the rules, member states should allow the entry of people vaccinated with an EU- or WHO-approved jab, recovered from the illness within 180 days, and those whose country is on the bloc’s travel list.
The World Health Organizations’ emergency list features Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, also approved by the European Medicines Agency, as well as the Covovax, Covishield, Covaxin, Sinopharm, and Sinovac jabs.
The rules are the same for children between 6 and 18 years, who can enter the bloc if they have a negative PCR test made within 72 hours before departure.
The amendment is an important step towards the abolishment of the travel list system that has been criticized for prioritizing political relations over scientific opinions since it allows entry based on nationality and not immunity status.
The EU imposed travel restrictions in March 2020 to stem the spread of COVID-19.
The travel list, updated every two weeks, grants access to 27 EU states and non-EU members of the Schengen zone (Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland).
The recommendations, however, are not legally binding and EU countries are allowed to demand additional measures, such as PCR test or quarantine from international travelers.
Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, said: “WTTC welcomes the sensible decision by the EU to drop travel restrictions before Easter.
“The patchwork of rules and regulations did nothing to prevent the spread of COVID but did cause immense damage to the economy of Europe causing the loss of jobs and businesses. Now is time to rebuild Travel & Tourism and connect Europe to the world.”