EU officials believe the bloc’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign will soon be “a game changer” in the fight against the deadly virus. Its proposal will be discussed with EU ambassadors this week and the commission hopes it could enter into force by June.
EU nations could also individually decide to accept travellers immunised with vaccines listed by the WHO for emergency use. The UN health agency has approved the same four vaccines as the EMA, and is expected to make a ruling soon on China’s Sinopharm vaccine.
Commission spokesman Adalbert Jahnz said fully-vaccinated travellers coming from outside the EU should be allowed to visit Europe but insisted that the proposal’s goal is not to exempt them from testing or quarantines upon arrival. “This still remains very much in the hands of the member states,” he said.
The commission also proposed raising the threshold of new Covid-19 cases that is used to determine the countries from which all travel should be permitted.
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“Non-essential travel regardless of individual vaccination status is currently permitted from seven countries with a good epidemiological situation,” it said, proposing to increase 14-day cumulative Covid-19 infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants from 25 to 100. “This remains considerably below the current EU average, which is over 420,” it said.
EU officials and nations are also talking about introducing Covid-19 certificates aimed at easing travel across the region this summer. The documents, sometimes called coronavirus passports or green certificates, would be given to EU residents who can prove they have been vaccinated or prove they have recovered from Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Bavarian officials on Monday cancelled Oktoberfest festivities for a second year due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, saying that there are too many risks in hosting the celebrations, which traditionally bring in visitors from around the world, during a pandemic.
Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder said it was with “heavy hearts” that they decided to call off the festival for which the state is known globally, but that with coronavirus numbers still stubbornly high and hospitals already struggling, it had to be done. “Oktoberfest will be held again, and will be big again,” he pledged.
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