EU to tighten travel rules, bar unvaxxed from bloc — Analysis
EU member states are being urged to only permit travelers into their countries from non-EU members if they can be vaccinated for or have recovered from Covid-19. The proposed regulations would mandate that travelers receive a booster shot at least once every nine month. In a proposal issued on Thursday, the European Commission recommended that as of March 2022, the EU’s 27 member states only allow in vaccinated, recovered, or essential travelers (like truck drivers) from outside the bloc.
Prospective travelers will need to demonstrate that they have been vaccinated within nine months of entering the country. It is essentially a requirement that booster shots be given for all travelers.
The EU recommends to member countries that travelers be allowed in from just over twenty countries. “a good epidemiological situation.” Travelers from these locations – which include Canada, New Zealand, and the UAE – are allowed into the EU with either a vaccine certificate, proof of recovery, or proof of a negative Covid-19 test. This list will be eliminated under the new rules.
Individual travelers can enter the EU solely based upon their current vaccination and recovery status. The European Medicines Agency, (EMA), has currently approved vaccines made by Janssen, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer. Russia’s Sputnik-V is under review by the agency, as are shots by Sanofi-GSK and China’s Sinopharm.
The new proposal would allow entry for travelers who have been vaccinated using shots that are approved by the World Health Organization, but not the EMA. If the vaccines used by SInopharm and Sinovac are negative, they can be admitted as long proof has been provided. The Commission’s proposal will need to be cleared by the European Council, and if passed it will apply to every EU country except Ireland, which is not a member of the border-free Schengen Area.
While 67% are currently protected against Covid-19 in the EU, uptake rates vary between countries. However, the number of new Covid-19 cases per week has tripled even in Ireland (which boasts the highest vaccination rates in Europe at 93%), and the Irish government is looking into possible restrictions for daily life. “It is evident that the pandemic is not yet over,”European Commissioner Didier Reynders stated on Thursday that he added, “the travel rules need to take into account this volatile situation.”
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