The European Union recommends a 9-month time limit for the validity of Covid-19 vaccines to travel within and within the block and also proposes to prioritize vaccinated travellers.
According to a document seen by Bloomberg, the European Commission proposes that member states continue to welcome all travellers vaccinated with block-approved vaccines. He also asked that countries reopen from January 10 to all those who have used vaccines approved by the World Health Organization.
EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders announced on Thursday a new EU internal travel framework based more on people’s vaccination or recovery status than on the number of cases in the countries they come from. A separate announcement on external travel rules is scheduled for later Thursday.
The proposed updates introduce the new time limit for the validity of Covid inoculations, making it clear that boosters will be needed beyond the 9-month period. But the EU said it was not ready to propose a validity period for certificates issued based on booster vaccines.
The commission is also proposing to extend its rules on the EU digital certificate beyond next summer, Reynders said.
EU governments are pushing for the bloc to smooth out differences in rules to help safeguard the ability to travel after governments have employed contrasting approaches on how long vaccines should last and how to administer booster shots. The commission offers recommendations that member countries could implement.
Shares of European airlines rose, offsetting November’s 8.2 percent drop in the Bloomberg EMEA Airlines index through Wednesday. Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, rose 1.1%, while British rival EasyJet Plc, Franco-Dutch flag carrier Air France-KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa AG were also higher.
EU countries are struggling to counter the fourth wave of the pandemic with varying degrees of restrictions, in a context of uneven vaccination rates. Germany is considering mandatory vaccinations for some vulnerable groups, Italy has imposed limits on unvaccinated people, and Denmark is considering requiring face masks on public transport. Austria has restricted leisure travel as part of a three-week lockdown.
As the number of cases continues to rise across Europe, the EU executive arm plans to discontinue its white list of countries from which all travellers are allowed regardless of vaccination status, starting on March 1. From that date, travellers vaccinated and recovered with an EU digital Covid certificate, or an equivalent pass, could enter the block.
The revised rules would also allow children between the ages of 6 and 17 who have had a negative PCR test before departure to travel to the EU, even if they are not vaccinated. EU countries may require additional testing after arrival, quarantine, or self-isolation. The proposals will now go to member states for approval.