EU to lift US tourist restrictions

UMMATIMES - The European Union has recommended that its 27 member states begin lifting restrictions on tourists from the United States. EU members on Wednesday agreed to add the US to a list of countries where they must gradually remove non-essential travel restrictions. The measure was adopted during a meeting in Brussels of permanent representatives for the bloc.

Reported on ABC News, Wednesday (16/6) stated, these recommendations are not binding. National governments have the authority to request test results or vaccination records and to set other entry requirements.

The EU does not have a unified COVID-19 tourism or border policy. However, the bloc has been working for months to create a shared digital travel certificate for those vaccinated, recently tested, or recently recovered from the virus. EU lawmakers backed the plan last week.

The free certificate, which will contain a QR code with advanced security features, will allow people to move between European countries without having to be quarantined or undergo additional coronavirus tests upon arrival.

Several EU countries have started using the system, including Belgium, Spain, Germany, Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark and Poland. The rest are expected to start using it on July 1.

This system is primarily intended for EU citizens, but Americans and citizens of other countries can also obtain this certificate. They can get it if they can convince the authorities in the EU country they are entering that they are eligible to get it. The lack of an official US vaccination certification system could complicate matters.

Several EU countries have already started allowing American visitors. On the other hand, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said this week a cautious and gradual approach should remain the rule.

"Let's look at the science and let's see how it develops. Let's see the numbers and when it's safe, we'll do it," De Croo said.

"When we see a large part of the population being double vaccinated and can prove they are safe, travel will increase again. And I expect that during this summer," he added.

In addition to the US, representatives of EU countries added five other countries, North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Lebanon and Taiwan, to the list of tourist trips. The Council of Europe updates the list based on epidemiological data that is reviewed every two weeks.

The representative also decided to remove the reciprocal clause for the special administrative regions of China, Macau and Hong Kong. The recommendations are expected to be formalized on Friday.