Olivier Matthys/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The head of the European Commission said Monday that she is recommending allowing non-resident travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 and those from “countries with a good health situation” be allowed to travel to the EU this summer.
However, von der Leyen cautioned in a tweet Monday that if variants of the coronavirus emerge “we have to act fast: we propose an EU emergency brake mechanism.”
Time to revive tourism industry & for cross-border friendships to rekindle – safely.
We propose to welcome again vaccinated visitors & those from countries with a good health situation.
But if variants emerge we have to act fast: we propose an EU emergency brake mechanism.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) May 3, 2021
Current EU restrictions allow only travelers from seven countries to enter the 27-member bloc, regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated.
Last week, von der Leyen said U.S. travelers would be allowed to resume travel to EU countries, but did not give a time frame. The economies of many EU nations, such as Spain and Italy, rely heavily on tourism dollars and have been hard-hit by the prolonged absence of Americans due to the pandemic.
The recommendation is set to be discussed on Tuesday and must be approved by all EU member states to come into force, according to Reuters. Individually, countries could still decide to honor the recommendation even if some don’t, the news agency said.
Meanwhile, on Monday, in a letter to President Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, several groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others representing the airline and travel industry in both the U.S. and U.K., urged the two leaders to reopen their travel markets.
A planned G-7 summit in the U.K. on June 11 — the first since the start of the pandemic — “would be an ideal opportunity for a joint announcement of the full reopening of the U.S.-UK air travel market for both U.S. and UK citizens,” they suggested.
“We are confident that the right tools now exist to enable a safe and meaningful restart to transatlantic travel,” the industry groups wrote, according to Bloomberg.
Airlines for America, Global Business Travel Association, the Air Line Pilots Association, Virgin Atlantic, the Association of UK Airlines, and the Aerospace Industries Association are among the groups that signed on to the letter.
Although air passenger numbers in the United States remain historically low, the U.S. has been rebounding, with the Transportation Security Administration reporting 1.67 million people were screened at airports on Sunday, compared to only around 170,000 a year ago.