European Union agrees to ease travel restrictions, opening borders to vaccinated Americans

The European Union agreed Wednesday to reopen its borders to tourists who have been fully vaccinated or come from countries deemed safe from the threat of COVID-19, including the United States.


What You Need To Know

  • The ambassadors of the European Union’s 27 member countries voted Wednesday to ease travel restrictions, reopening borders to ourists who have been fully vaccinated or come from countries deemed safe from the threat of COVID-19
  • The nations’ leaders must still formally approve the measure, which could happen as early as Thursdayx, although it’s not clear when the changes would take effect
  • People who have been fully vaccinated with shots approved by the World Health Organization or the European Medicines Agency would be eligible to travel to the EU – that includes all three vaccines available in the U.S.
  • European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said the ambassadors also approved an emergency-brake option to quickly reinstate restrictions if conditions worsen

The ambassadors of the EU’s 27 member countries voted to ease the strict travel restrictions that have been in place for more than a year. The nations’ leaders must still formally approve the measure, which could happen as early as Thursday.

European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand did not say when the changes might take effect.

The New York Times reported, citing European officials, that the list of safe countries based on epidemiological criteria will be finalized Friday and that the new rules could be in place as early as next week.

People who have been fully vaccinated with shots approved by the World Health Organization or the European Medicines Agency would be eligible to travel to the EU. That includes all three vaccines currently available in the U.S.: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Wigand said the ambassadors also approved an emergency-brake option to quickly reinstate restrictions if conditions worsen. 

“This will help progressively resuming international inbound travel where it’s possible to do so safely while at the same time ensuring quick action to counter the spread of new virus variants,” Wigand said in a news conference.

Individual member countries will have the option to keep more restrictive measures in place if they choose. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen indicated in an interview with The New York Times last month that changes allowing Americans to visit Europe this summer were imminent, as she cited the U.S. vaccination rate.

As of Tuesday morning, 37.5% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 47.7% have received at least one vaccine dose, according to data from the CDC. Meanwhile, the number of new daily infections in the U.S. is at its lowest point since last June.


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