EU Announces Reopening Of Borders For Vaccinated Visitors

by Christina Marfice
Aleksandr Zubkov/Getty

The EU Council has approved a plan that would reopen borders for fully vaccinated travelers, as well as some visitors from countries where COVID case rates are low

With hot vax summer fast approaching, many of us — especially those who have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — are wondering when one major part of pre-pandemic life will go back to normal: Travel. As many parts of the world continue to struggle to control the coronavirus, it’ll probably be a while. But if you’ve been dreaming of a European getaway this summer, it just might be within reach — the EU just announced its plan to reopen its borders to travelers who are fully vaccinated.

The plan was approved by the EU Council, and says that border restrictions will be eased for anyone who has been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved for use in Europe (which includes Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, the three vaccines authorized in the U.S.). The bloc is also considering allowing travelers from countries with “good epidemiological plans,” like Australia and Singapore, to enter without being fully vaccinated. A list of those countries is expected to be formalized and released on Friday.

The new policy could go into effect as soon as next week. The only step remaining is for the proposal to go in front of ministers from the EU’s member countries. If they give it their approval, Europe will be ready to officially open at any time.

The plan does include some safety measures, including an “emergency brake” which would allow the bloc to quickly close its borders again in the event of COVID outbreaks. It also defers to the governments of all its member countries, so even if the EU is open, some of the countries in the bloc may choose to remain closed off to foreign visitors (and some are even already open — Greece currently allows foreign visitors with a testing a quarantine protocol). This makes travel not entirely without risk, as there are no details right now about what would happen if, say, an American were vacationing in the EU and the borders were shut down again.

But as vaccines become more widespread, this is one more big step toward normalcy, and one that might encourage more Americans to get their shots. Knowing they can’t travel without being vaccinated is likely to be a motivator for at least some vaccine-hesitant Americans.