The European Council on Tuesday updated its recommendation on the temporary restriction of non-essential travel into the EU from third countries.
Under the recommendation, the Council advises EU countries to allow non-essential travel for citizens of third countries who have been vaccinated against Covid-19, as well as for recovered persons.
“The amendments introduced respond to the evolution of the pandemic, the increasing vaccination uptake and administration of booster doses, and the recognition of a growing number of certificates issued by third countries as equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificate,” the Council said.
The new recommendation will start to apply on March 1.
According to Council, member states should lift the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU:
– for persons vaccinated with an EU- or WHO-approved vaccine, provided they have received the last dose of the primary vaccination series at least 14 days and no more than 270 days before arrival or they have received a booster dose
– for persons who have recovered from COVID-19 within 180 days prior to travelling to the EU if they can prove their recovery with an EU Digital COVID Certificate or a non-EU certificate deemed equivalent to the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
The recommendation states that for persons vaccinated with a vaccine approved by WHO (World Health Organization) and not by the EU (European Medicines Agency), member states could also require a negative PCR test taken at the earliest 72 hours before departure and could apply additional measures such as quarantine or isolation.
The Council also states that a negative PCR test before departure could also be required:
– for persons who have recovered from COVID-19 but do not hold an EU or equivalent certificate.
– for persons who have been vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine but do not hold an EU or equivalent certificate.
The recommendation also clarifies that no test or additional requirements should be applied to children under 6 travelling with an adult.
For all Covid restrictions to be lifted for travellers from a third country, the number of Covid cases in that country should be up to 100 per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days, the recommendation said.
Travel & tourism bodies welcome EU decision
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) welcomed the EU’s “sensible” decision to lift travel restrictions for vaccinated and recovered passengers arriving from third countries.
“The patchwork of rules and regulations did nothing to prevent the spread of COVID but did cause immense damage to the economy of Europe causing the loss of jobs and businesses,” WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson said.
The news was also applauded by ACI EUROPE (Airports Council International) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“A vaccinated traveler from outside the EU should be treated no differently to one inside the EU,” said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe.
It is reminded that the Council recommendation is not a legally binding instrument. The authorities of the member states remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation.
ACI EUROPE Director General Olivier Jankovec urged member states to implement the recommendation.