The European Union Lifts Travel Restrictions on Fully Vaccinated Americans
On April 25, the head of the European Union announced that American tourists who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be permitted to visit the bloc’s countries over the summer, reports The New York Times.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, stated in an interview with The New York Times that the United States was “on track” to reach herd immunity. Von der Leyen noted that “all 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines” approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), allowing individuals to travel to the European Union. The United States has approved and currently offers Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine shots, all approved by the EMA.
The president of the European Commission did not state a specific date of when or how travel would resume, but she mentioned that current travel restrictions were subject to change with the idea of vaccination certificates. European diplomats have debated whether the EU’s terms for determining if a country is considered safe should be based on their daily COVID-19 cases. However, these concerns are largely being ignored as more countries expand their vaccine campaigns, such as Britain and the United States.
NPR News states that while the EU is encouraging American travel into the bloc, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still emphasizing caution, warning travelers not to visit many European countries that still have high case numbers, such as Greece, Italy, and Spain. The tourist industry is eager to resume in southern Europe, however, with Malta announcing a plan to pay travelers to visit the country hoping to boost the national tourist economy.
Greece has also opened its borders to other EU citizens, not requiring individuals to quarantine if they have been vaccinated or recently tested negative. The EU has begun administering “digital green certificates” to its citizens, indicating if the citizen has been inoculated, recently recovered from the virus, or recently tested negative, continues the New York Times. This allows EU citizens to travel without restriction throughout the bloc.
Deutsche Welle reports that 28.5 percent of U.S. citizens have received both shots, equating to over 95 million people, according to the CDC. 42.2 percent, or 140 million people, have received their initial inoculation. The CDC also reports, however, that over five million Americans did not attend scheduled appointments to receive a second dose. Patients must receive both shots to have full, effective protection from the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, 128 million doses have been received by 21 percent of the EU population. The EU recently made a deal with Pfizer to receive another 1.8 billion vaccine doses until 2023. BBC News states that the EU is aiming for at least 70 percent of its adult population to have at least received one dose by the summer. The United States, on its end, is on track with a similar goal, albeit the CDC is still warning Americans to avoid traveling to 80 percent of countries.
The EU first restricted non-essential travel to the bloc from the United States last March, at the beginning of the pandemic. Then-U.S. President Donald Trump issued a ban blocking entry into the United States from 26 European countries that same month.t The U.S. still restricts entry of non-essential travelers from the EU and the United Kingdom. Internal restrictions are lifting throughout the EU; – Italy has reopened its indoor dining and bar services, while in France, schoolchildren have begun to return to nurseries and primary school.
While the EU and the United States maintain successful vaccine campaigns and are reaching a state of normalcy, Reuters reports that India’s total coronavirus cases have exceeded 18 million and daily cases are only continuing to grow. On April 29, India had 379,257 new infections and 3,645 new deaths. Deep into a new wave, the country recently announced the ability to register for vaccine appointments. However, citizens reported on social media that the registration website could not handle the influx of traffic and soon crashed. India lacks vaccine supply for its 800 million eligible citizens despite being the world’s largest vaccine producer.