Great news for travel this summer: Fully vaccinated Americans will be able to visit the European Union, according to the head of the European Commission as reported by The New York Times. No official reopening date has been set yet, however.
According to The Times, some of the reasons for the E.U. reopening to the United States includes the fast pace of (European Medicines Agency-approved) vaccinations and the potential implementation of a vaccine certificate—something the European Travel Commission has been pushing for some time. A temporary solution could include a “low-tech” E.U. vaccine certificate-equivalent when the traveler arrives in Europe and shows proof of a vaccine certificate provided by the U.S. government. Then, over time, foreign-issued certificates would become acceptable in Europe (and vice versa).
Also according to The Times, about 140 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including about 94.8 million people who have been fully vaccinated—that’s 42 and 29 percent of the total population, respectively. In addition, the U.S. is averaging 58,353 average new daily cases of the last two weeks, which is a 16 percent decrease from the previous similar period.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said via The Times that “one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.A.” These vaccinations include those by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.
Responding to the news, American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) president and CEO Zane Kerby said: “We are gratified that the E.U. has recognized the economic importance of a viable international travel system. Allowing Americans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to visit Europe this the summer is welcome news at a time when Americans are planning overseas trips with their travel advisors.
“As welcome as this announcement is, fulfilling its potential requires action on the part of the U.S. government. Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19, logic dictates that the rule requiring Americans returning from overseas to test negative for COVID-19 before boarding their return flight be revised to exempt those returning from the E.U. Doing so will help the travel industry make the most of this development while protecting public health and reducing the risk of Americans stranded overseas at their own expense.
“We call on the CDC to modify its international air testing rule, and to continue work on systems to establish vaccination, immunity or a negative test result so that international travel can safely return to pre-pandemic levels.”
This news follows on the heels of Iceland and Greece’s reopenings, along with announcements from France and the U.K. for phased reopenings to international visitors this year. According to The Times, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Croatia “are set to jump on the opportunity to reopen” to Americans.