A lifting of all quarantine restrictions for people living in the EU who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 is being proposed by Brussels from July 1.
They would be exempt from any isolation or testing requirements when travelling within the EU if member states follow new proposed guidelines recommended by the European Commission in an effort to allow greater summer travel.
The commission’s recommendations for the exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers came ahead of the launch of the EU digital Covid certificate today (Tuesday).
The system is designed to serve as proof of recovery from Covid-19, vaccination or a negative test for the disease for travellers across the bloc.
A July 1 deadline has been set for all 27 EU countries to accept the documentation as sufficient proof of vaccination for restrictions to be lifted.
A negative test or proof of having recovered from infection will confer the same rights on the holder of a certificate. The commission has proposed a standard validity period for tests – 72 hours before travel for PCR tests and 48 hours for rapid antigen tests.
The commission has also said it will talk to non-EU countries, such as the UK, about the mutual recognition of Covid-19 certificates for travel purposes.
Fully vaccinated UK travellers are expected to benefit from the Covid passport system but EU governments may still impose curbs on people arriving from Britain including testing and quarantine against the backdrop of the emerging variant first identified in India.
The commission also recommended children of those fully vaccinated be exempt from quarantine, while those under six should be exempted from travel-related testing.
Each member state is free to set their own rules for incoming travellers, but the commission has set out the proposals in a bid to make the current patchwork of rules across the bloc less complex.
Some countries could choose to lift quarantine and testing restrictions for people who have received just one dose of a two-dose vaccine, as well as for fully vaccinated people, according to European justice commissioner Didier Reynders.
He said: “The last weeks have brought a continuous downward trend in infection numbers, showing the success of the vaccination campaigns across the EU.
“In parallel, we are also encouraging affordable and widely available testing possibilities. In this context, member states are now slowly lifting Covid-19 restrictions both domestically and regarding travel.”
The UK is yet to be added to a ‘white list’ of non-EU countries from where the EU recommends that unvaccinated travellers may safely be allowed to enter the bloc for non-essential reasons.
However, countries such as Portugal have opened borders to British tourists.
“We’re not setting out restrictions that are to be adopted. It’s still possible for member states to reduce restrictions or remove them all together.” Reyners added.
“A member state can go further than that, and can lift the restrictions more.”
Under the recommendations, people who have recovered from Covid-19 should be exempted from travel-related quarantine or testing for 180 days after they first test positive for the disease.
In addition, travellers from so-called green areas with a low prevalence of Covid should be exempted from all restrictions, while those from orange areas of medium incidence should only have to provide a negative test result, and not quarantine.
However, countries “should reintroduce travel measures for vaccinated and recovered persons if the epidemiological situation deteriorates rapidly or where a high prevalence of variants of concern or interest has been reported”, the commission recommended.
Entry to France was limited from yesterday (Monday) to EU nationals, French residents, and those travelling for essential purposes. People arriving from the UK must have tested negative and quarantine for seven days.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: “Europeans should enjoy a safe and relaxing summer.
“As vaccination progresses, we propose to gradually ease travel measures in a coordinated way with our common tool: the EU digital covid certificate. It will bring clarity and predictability as we resume free travel in the EU”.
“Freedom of movement is one of EU citizens’ most cherished rights: we need co-ordinated and predictable approaches for our citizens that would offer clarity and avoid inconsistent requirements across member states,”
European health commissioner Stella Kyriakides added: “As vaccination is progressing with increasing speed, we can be confident that safe free movement without restrictions can gradually resume again.”