(CNN) – After almost a year of closed borders, the European Union could be opened in June, just in time for summer, according to a plan published on Monday for fully vaccinated vacationers from countries with low Covid infection rates.
The easing of restrictions on non-essential travel, welcomed by countries desperately trying to revive the ailing tourism industries, would also enable an “emergency brake” should infection rates rise again.
With the success of vaccination programs, the EU is also looking to relax qualification rules to include countries whose travelers do not need to be vaccinated or need to be quarantined on their safe travel lists.
Officials hope the plan can be implemented by the end of June, a year since the EU closed its external borders to most travelers. However, the borders could open sooner depending on how quickly European countries sign the proposal.
The move comes because some members of the 27-nation bloc are already planning to push ahead with the opening. Tourist starved Greece last month said almost all fully vaccinated or Covid tested international travelers can come from mid-May.
The proposals published by the European Commission indicated that arrivals must be vaccinated with a vaccine from the approved list 14 days prior to arrival, including BioNTech / Pfizer, Oxford University / AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.
‘Member States could also extend this to those vaccinated with a vaccine after completing the WHO emergency listing procedure,’ added an EC statement.
The focus of the EU plan is a “Digital Green Certificate”, which serves as proof of vaccination or immunity and enables travel across the internal and external borders of the European Union.
International travelers can get one by providing evidence to their original destination country that they have been vaccinated.
Before implementation, it is recommended that Member States take steps to verify the authenticity of all vaccination records submitted by visitors.
Monday’s proposals also recommended changing the way the European Union decides which countries are on its travel safety list. Currently, only travelers from seven nations, including Australia, New Zealand and Rwanda, are allowed to travel to some EU countries without proof of vaccination or quarantine.
“The proposal is to increase the 14-day cumulative notification rate threshold for Covid-19 cases from 25 to 100 [per 100,000 inhabitants] ”, it says in the declaration of the EU.” This remains well below the current EU average of over 420. “
According to the latest data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the United States has a notification rate of 258 so would not be on the safe travel list, but the United Kingdom at a rate of 47 would be considered under the new list Regulate.
However, the Commission’s proposal contains a so-called “emergency brake”: “If the epidemiological situation of a non-EU country deteriorates rapidly and in particular if a variant of concerns or interests is identified, a member state can urgently and all incoming travel from non-EU – Temporarily suspend citizens residing in such a country. “
The plans will be discussed by the ambassadors of the European countries on May 5th and will be reviewed every two weeks after the list of safe countries has been signed. Decisions about borders can only be made by individual countries, so each member state decides whether these proposals will be implemented or not.