EU governments push to relax ban on travel from rest of world
A group of European Union nations that count tourism as a significant industry is pushing for a relaxation of rules on traveling to the bloc from the rest of the world, according to diplomats.
The EU imposed a blanket ban on non-essential travel from most countries last March in a bid to stem the spread of Covid-19. But with vaccinations gathering pace, some states want to adopt a more targeted regime to help spur an economic recovery, diplomats with knowledge of the deliberations said.
The issue could be discussed by EU leaders at a summit later this month.
The governments want to move to a system that allows people to travel on the basis of whether they have been inoculated against the coronavirus, recovered from it, or tested negative, in a similar regime to the one that’s been proposed for internal EU travel.
The EU began to relax its ban on non-essential travel from the rest of the world last July by drawing up a roster of countries with low infection rates from where people would be allowed in. But that list, which doesn’t include the U.S. or the U.K., has steadily shrunk and now totals just seven nations.
Some nations are already developing unilateral plans for reopening to visitors from outside the bloc, notably U.K. travelers in the wake of Brexit, while the European Commission seeks to a coordinated approach.
Cyprus said last week it will let in Britons who have had two Covid jabs from May 1, though the U.K. government isn’t due to lift a ban on leisure travel until May 17 at the earliest. Authorities on the Portuguese island of Madeira said in February they’d let in inoculated visitors, while Greece and Spain are targeting an early reopening.
France also eased restrictions for visitors from seven non-EU countries including the U.K. on Thursday by removing a stipulation that trips could only be for essential purposes. All passengers arriving in France will still need to provide a negative Covid-19 test result issued less than 72 hours before they travel.
Discussions among EU states haven’t yet considered what rules should apply if someone from a third country was to enter the bloc via one state and then seek to travel directly to another, according to one of the diplomats.
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