Plans by Brussels to ease restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU for vaccinated passengers this summer has been welcomed by airlines.
The European Commission proposes that the 27 member states lift limits for vaccinated persons travelling to the EU.
“This reflects the latest scientific advice showing that vaccination considerably helps to break the transmission chain,” the commission said.
“Member states should allow travel into the EU of those people who have received, at least 14 days before arrival, the last recommended dose of a vaccine having received marketing authorisation in the EU.”
However, the commission wants to see an ‘emergency brake’ applied “when the epidemiological situation of a non-EU country worsens quickly and in particular if a variant of concern or interest is detected”.
This would “urgently and temporarily” suspend all inbound travel by non-EU citizens in such a country.
The list of non-EU countries exempted from travel restrictions would be reviewed every two weeks.
The proposals are due to be discussed today (Tuesday) and tomorrow.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: “Time to revive tourism industry & for cross-border friendships to rekindle – safely.
“We propose to welcome again vaccinated & those from countries with a good health situation.
“But if variants emerge we have to act fast: we propose EU emergency brake mechanism.”
An EU official told the Sunday Times: “One very important question linked with vaccination was whether or not individuals being vaccinated would actually break, or help break, transmission. And, fortunately, now, we do have enough solid, deep scientific evidence proving that this is the case.”
Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “This is an extremely important announcement that will pave the way for the reopening of the EU’s tourism and travel industry in time for the peak summer season.
“The EU should be congratulated for recognising that the success of the vaccine rollout – coupled with sensible vigilance around variants – is a game-changer that can and should enable a risk-based and proportionate system of international travel to resume.”
However, he added: “It is frustrating that the UK has not gone down the same road, with ministers here still reluctant to acknowledge that we can be more ambitious with our own plans, taking advantage of one of the most impressive vaccination programmes in the world, alongside quicker, cheaper testing and our globally renowned genomic sequencing capability.
“It’s about getting the risk balance right and we don’t believe the UK has done that yet.”