Vaccinated Tourists Could Soon Be Allowed to Visit Again, E.U. Says

The bloc’s executive branch laid out plans for welcoming back leisure and business travelers in time for the summer, with inoculation certificates playing a crucial role.


By Matina Stevis-Gridneff

BRUSSELS — The European Union took a crucial step on Monday toward reopening its borders to vaccinated travelers after the bloc’s executive released a plan for allowing journeys to resume after more than a year of stringent coronavirus restrictions.

The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, proposed that the 27 member countries reopen their borders to all travelers who have been fully vaccinated with shots approved by the bloc’s medicine regulator or by the World Health Organization. The commission also outlined other, looser, pandemic-related conditions that should permit people to travel.

The proposal would see more regular travel to the bloc gradually restart in time for the summer tourism season, which provides economic lifeblood for several member states. The plans are an important moment in Europe’s efforts to return to a semblance of normalcy after more than a year of strict limitations.

Travel from outside the bloc was halted almost entirely last spring and only restored tentatively for a handful of exceptions last summer. The measures separated families, hobbled the tourism and aviation sectors and brought business travel to an almost total halt.

The policy switch was first previewed by Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, in an interview with The New York Times last month, during which she said that vaccinated Americans should be able to visit Europe this summer. The detailed proposal laid out on Monday also confirmed Ms. von der Leyen’s earlier statements about the important role that the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates will play in resuming international travel.

To pass, the proposal released on Monday will require the backing of a reinforced majority of member states, which it is likely to receive late this month or in early June. Still, individual member countries retain a good deal of sovereignty around health policy, so each state will probably use that leeway to tailor the travel measures further.

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