Europe Moves Toward Opening Up For World Travelers, Including US

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In Europe — with vaccinations campaigns underway and the pandemic easing — countries are eager to open up for tourism and travel. What that will mean exactly is still up in the air.

For its part, Turkey now offers a COVID-19 vaccine ID card for its citizens, to be used for international travel. It is available through an online app that keeps track of COVID-19 contacts. COVID-19 information will be linked to the vaccine ID card.

On Wednesday (May 19), ambassadors from the 27 European Union member countries decided to open the bloc’s borders to tourists who have been vaccinated. The Wall Street Journal reported that national leaders would still have to approve the move. And individual countries would be allowed to set particular restrictions.

As of yet, the EU only allows “essential travel” from the U.S. The EU curtailed nonessential travel in 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic.

When the EU might allow nonessential travel, such as tourism, from the U.S. is unclear. However, the WSJ reported, some tourist-dependent economies — such as Greece and Italy — have already opened to visitors from some countries, under certain conditions. France is reportedly likely to open its doors to tourists, including Americans, in June.

Tourists who have been fully vaccinated with shots approved by the World Health Organization or EU regulators will be allowed in. Vaccines that have been approved include the three being used in the U.S. — those made by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — as well as ones manufactured by AstraZeneca and Sinopharm, a Chinese state-owned company.

The EU has been eyeing plans to reopen the continent for months. The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, said in mid-January that it was looking at the concept of “vaccine passports” or vaccine certificates.

Policies discussed also looked at such issues as looking at coronavirus infection rates, giving particular attention to those arriving from areas with high incidence of new COVID-19 variants, and strict quarantines put in place when necessary.




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