Europe is set to reopen its borders to those travelling from the United States whether they have received the COVID-19 vaccine or not.
Representatives from the European Union’s 27 countries agreed to allow non-essential travellers from the US and five other nations to enter their respective countries, EU diplomats told Reuters.
The European Council currently advises members of the EU to “gradually” lift travel restrictions for Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and China (subject to “confirmation of reciprocity”).
Ambassadors from EU member nations reportedly agreed to add the US, Albania, Lebanon, North Macedonia, Serbia and Taiwan to the list on Wednesday, with the change expected to be confirmed by the end of this week, according to German media outlet Deutsche Welle. However, it is not clear when the relaxed rules will come into effect.
The European Council began advising the gradual lifting of international travel restrictions on 30 June 2020, reviewing the list of countries from which people can travel into the EU every two weeks.
On 20 May, the council amended its recommendation in response to ongoing vaccination campaigns by introducing waivers for vaccinated persons and easing the criteria to lift restrictions for third countries.
Under the new rules, the number of COVID-19 cases allowed for a country to be added to the list was raised from 25 to 75 per 100,000 inhabitants for a period of 14 days.
Deutsche Welle reported that figures from the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention currently indicate the rate in the US is 73.5 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Under the new recommendation, EU countries can still opt to demand a negative COVID-19 test or a compulsory quarantine period.
The news comes a week after the Australian government extended its international travel ban for at least a further three months, with the potential open date now set for 17 September.
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Scott Morrison doubled down on his hard border stance during a meeting with US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday.
He said the government was committed to sticking to “an Australian path” in regard to border closures, and Aussies should only be allowed to travel overseas “when the medical advice suggests that we should”.
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