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EU Decides to Ease Restrictions for Non-EU Travelers

The idyllic Greek island of Santorini. The EU will soon ease the current restrictions for non-EU travelers who wish to enter the nations in the bloc. Credit: Dimitra Damianidi/Greek Reporter

Non-EU travelers who are hoping to enter the bloc this summer received very welcome news on Wednesday as EU officials agreed to ease Covid-19 travel restrictions on those entering the Union just before the summer tourist season.

Reuters reports that ambassadors from the 27 countries of the EU approved a European Commission proposal brought forth on May 3 to loosen the criteria used to determine “safe” countries — and to allow in fully vaccinated tourists from outside the bloc.

The officials are expected to create a new travel list either later this week or early next week, according to the sources. Great Britain and a number of other countries would meet the new criteria, based on data from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although the United States would not, vaccinated Americans would still be welcome in Europe. This would come as a relief to Americans, who are now allowed to enter Greece without a quarantine but have been shut out from visiting other nations.

As of May 20, a total of 125,453,423, or 38.2%, of Americans are fully vaccinated.

Travelers From Outside EU Already Subject to Rules Set By Individual Countries

One diplomat from a country in the EU told the press that cases of the Indian variant of the virus in Britain would need to be taken into account in such decisions, but individual EU countries are already setting their own policies regarding this issue.

The nation of Portugal lifted a four-month-long complete travel ban on British tourists this past Monday.

Currently, travelers from only seven countries — including Australia, Israel and Singapore — can enter the EU for vacations — regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated.

The main criterion used at the present time for allowing travelers inside the EU is that there should be no more than 25 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the previous two weeks.

Not only should the trend be either stable or decreasing, but there should also be a sufficient number of tests, which would need to show a minimum percentage of negative results. All “variants of concern” that are present in a population can also be taken into account.

According to the sources, the Commission proposed raising the allowable case rate in nations outside the EU to 100 per 100,000, but the EU ambassadors opted instead for 75.

For the vaccinated to gain access to the nations of the EU, they would need to have received an EU-approved vaccine, but those with a World Health Organization emergency listing will also be considered.

An “emergency brake” system would also be employed to limit the risk of variants entering the bloc.

Greece is in Top Three of International Travel Destinations for Americans

Greece is in the top three international travel destinations for Americans for 2022, a survey released recently by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) shows.

According to the findings of its tour operator members about current passenger booking trends, Italy was named the top international destination that travelers are booking for 2022. Germany came in second, followed by France, Greece, and Ireland tied in third place.

Italy also topped the ranking of the top three international destinations that travelers are booking for 2021 (based solely on bookings made this year). Ireland and the United Kingdom tied for second, followed by Costa Rica, Egypt, Iceland, and Mexico tied for third.

According to the survey, eight out 10 USTOA Active Members are “enthusiastic” to “cautiously optimistic” for a complete resumption of business by the end of 2021: half (49%) are “cautiously optimistic;” 24% are “optimistic,” and roughly 7% are “enthusiastic.” A smaller percentage, 11%, are “not optimistic,” and 9% said they were feeling “negative.”

“Optimism for recovery even as early as 2021 is high, which is a positive sign for our members and the industry, especially as this survey was conducted just prior to the recent news of a potential return to Europe and US cruising by summer,” Terry Dale, USTOA president and CEO, said.

“While our members remain vigilant, given the fluidity of the situation, we suspect this enthusiasm to only strengthen as more progress is made with re-opening strategies,”  he added.


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