Commission: All Non-essential Travel ‘Strongly Discouraged’
One day before EU leaders meet to discuss actions in the fight against the Covid-19 crisis, the European Commission called on member states to discourage non-essential travel and to accelerate vaccination setting a summer deadline for the immunization of at least 70 percent of the adult population.
“Vaccination is essential to get out of this crisis. We have already secured enough vaccines for the entire population of the European Union. Now we need to accelerate the delivery and speed up vaccination. Our aim is to have 70 percent of our adult population vaccinated by summer,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
With regard to travel, the Commission said all non-essential travel should be “strongly discouraged until the epidemiological situation has considerably improved”, adding that “proportionate travel restrictions” such as testing should be maintained for those traveling from areas with a higher incidence of variants.
“More needs to be done to support healthcare systems and to address “Covid-fatigue” in the coming months, the Commission said.
To effectively address the coronavirus pandemic, the Commission reset the Union’s Covid response priorities recommending the continuation of physical distancing, limited social contacts, accurate information, coordinated travel restrictions, increased testing and contact tracing, as well as genome sequencing to face up to the risk posed by new strains of the virus.
It is also working with member states on the introduction of so-called “vaccination certificates”, expected to be agreed on by the end of January. These documents would be rapidly useable in health systems across the EU and beyond. It should be noted that the idea was first tabled by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis last week and welcomed by travel and tourism industry stakeholders as well as by the Commission.
Meanwhile, Greece has already said on Tuesday that it will provide citizens who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 with a digital vaccination certificate to be used when needed.
“The emergence of new variants of the virus and substantial rises in cases leave us no room for complacency. Now more than ever must come a renewed determination for Europe to act together with unity, coordination and vigilance,” said Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.