After more than a year of strict travel restrictions, understaffed embassies, and hours on the phone with Air France trying to get ticket refunds, the European Union has announced that it will reopen its borders. A meeting today between ambassadors from the 27 represented countries resulted in this truly wonderful announcement.
Visitors will need to be fully vaccinated (with an “approved shot”), or come from a “Covid safe” country. According to EU spokesperson Christian Wigand, a date has not been set for the reopening, but could happen within days of the final sign-off on the new measure. The decision is a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule, meaning that individual countries can still adapt it at their discretion (for example, France currently requires visitors to quarantine upon entry regardless of vaccination status), but it’s likely that tourism-starved nations like Greece and Italy will be hungry for new visitors, and the life-giving cash flow they will bring to economies that have struggled and shrunk over the course of the pandemic.
So who exactly is good to go? Those with U.S.-approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson), Europe’s AstraZeneca, and China’s Sinopharm. Also those from countries deemed “safe,” i.e. mostly free of Covid-19. A list of these countries will be released on Friday. In Europe, a “vaccine passport” or “green certificate” is also under consideration, which would allow countries to more easily verify if you have been vaccinated or received a negative Covid test. Proponents are hoping this could be operational as soon as mid-June.
The decision also includes an “emergency brake” option that would reel back these openings if a new variant or outbreak were to occur. But in the meantime, count your blessings, and start looking into that long-awaited summer vacation.