Thursday, May 20, 2021

EU Amends Entry Ban to Allow Travel From More Third-Countries

The Council of the European Union has announced its decision to update the recommendation on restrictions for travel from third countries, which was first presented by the EU Commission on May 3.

In a press release, the Council explains that the Member States have agreed to allow more travellers from third countries to enter the block, in particular vaccinated travellers, who have been inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), reports.

This amendment responds to the ongoing vaccination campaigns by introducing certain waivers for vaccinated persons and easing the criteria to lift restrictions for third countries,” the press release notes.

It also explains that the recommendation has been updated to take into account the possible risks that the new COVID-19 mutations pose, thus making available an emergency brake mechanism, through which the block and the Member States will be able to quickly react to the emergence of a variant of concern in a third country.

Through the amended recommendation, the Council advises the Member States to lift restrictions on non-essential travellers from third countries, who have received the full dose of an EMA approved vaccine at least two weeks before they enter the block.

Yesterday, an EU official had confirmed for that the leaders of the EU countries agreed on the reopening of the borders for more travellers from outside the block, as well as to open borders for travellers who have been fully inoculated against COVID-19.

Under the new rules, the Member States are urged to increase the threshold used to determine the list of epidemiologically safe third countries, travellers from which are permitted to enter the EU for non-essential purposes from 25 to 75 new COVID-19 cases per 100 000 inhabitants over the last fortnight.

Other existing criteria continue to apply, including a stable or decreasing trend of new cases, the number of tests performed, a four per cent positivity rate among all tests carried out, the overall response to COVID-19 in the country and the reliability of the available information,” the Council explains.

It also notes that reciprocity should continue to be taken into account on a case-by-case basis, just as it is now taken into account for China, Hong Kong and Macao. The EU has placed the latter in the list of the epidemiologically safe third country, however, since they have shut the doors to European citizens, the EU also keeps the entry ban in place, thus applying reciprocity.

And finally, the Council reveals its plans to treat vaccination certificates of third-country citizens as equivalent to its digital green certificate as soon as the same is launched.

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