All people who have been fully vaccinated against or have recently recovered from Covid-19 could be exempt from any quarantine or testing requirements when travelling within the EU if member states follow new proposed guidelines recommended by the European Commission in a bid to allow greater summer travel.
The commission’s recommendations for the exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers come ahead of the launch of the EU digital Covid certificate on July 1st, which is designed to serve as proof of recovery from Covid-19, vaccination or a negative test for the disease for travellers across the bloc. Ireland will broadly implement this certificate from July 19th.
Ultimately, each member state is free to set their own rules for incoming travellers, but the commission has set out the proposals in a bid to make the current patchwork of rules in this regard across the EU less complex. In general, countries where tourism is a more important part of the economy have tended to set looser rules in a bid to attract travellers.
Some countries could choose to lift quarantine and testing restrictions for people who have received just one dose of a two-dose vaccine, as well as for fully vaccinated people, European justice commissioner Didier Reynders said.
“We’re not setting out restrictions that are to be adopted. It’s still possible for member states to reduce restrictions or remove them all together,” Mr Reynders told journalists as the proposals were announced.
“A member state can go further than that, and can lift the restrictions more.”
Under the commission’s recommendations, people who have recovered from Covid-19 should be exempted from travel-related quarantine or testing for 180 days after they first test positive for the disease.
In addition, travellers from so-called green areas with a low prevalence of coronavirus should be exempted from all restrictions, while those from orange areas of medium incidence should only have to provide a negative test result, and not quarantine.
Nevertheless, countries “should reintroduce travel measures for vaccinated and recovered persons if the epidemiological situation deteriorates rapidly or where a high prevalence of variants of concern or interest has been reported”, the commission recommended.
Guidelines for children
The European Commission recommended that minors travelling with parents who do not need to quarantine should also be exempted from the requirement, while children under six should be exempted from travel-related testing.
"Freedom of movement is one of EU citizens' most cherished rights: we need co-ordinated and predictable approaches for our citizens that would offer clarity and avoid inconsistent requirements across member states," European health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a statement.
“As vaccination is progressing with increasing speed, we can be confident that safe free movement without restrictions can gradually resume again.”
The European Commission has also said it will talk to non-EU countries, such as the UK, about the mutual recognition of Covid-19 certificates for travel purposes.
The proposals come after the bloc’s national leaders agreed last week that the EU’s travel rules should be revised by mid-June with a view to facilitating travel within the bloc.