EU considers relaxing travel bans in summer but UK remains a 'question mark'

3 May 2021, 14:28 | Updated: 4 May 2021, 11:45

Summer holidays could be back on the cards as the EU considers easing travel restrictions
Summer holidays could be back on the cards as the EU considers easing travel restrictions. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Hopes for a summer holiday have been boosted after the European Commission proposed easing restrictions on travel.

Non-essential trips to the EU are effectively restricted to just seven countries with low infection rates – with a spokesman for the Commission saying the UK, which is not on the list, is a "question mark".

Under proposals that may come into force by June, travellers from more non-EU states could be allowed to arrive if they have been vaccinated with jabs the bloc has approved.

However, Boris Johnson warned on Monday that he does not want to see an "influx of disease" when border restrictions are relaxed.

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The European Commission said if the Covid situation in a country is considered good, its residents should be allowed to travel in.

It is unclear which countries will be allowed to travel but an EU official said Israel, with its rapid vaccination programme, would be.

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"The UK, question mark, the US, for the time being, not quite," he said.

"But we see how quickly the situation in the US evolves, notably for the rate of vaccination."

The Commission has proposed raising the threshold for the 14-day cumulative case rate from 25 infections per 100,000 to 100 – and it pointed out that is "considerably below" the EU average of more than 420.

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EU countries could also decide to accept travellers jabbed with a vaccine listed by the World Health Organisation.

An emergency brake designed to halt the importation of new Covid variants is also planned.

Member states' ambassadors are set to consider the proposals this week, ahead of a summer season that many countries rely on for tourism.

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While the move represents a potential softening of the EU's stance on travel, Boris Johnson said: "We do want to do some opening up on May 17 but I don't think that the people of this country want to see an influx of disease from anywhere else.

"I certainly don't and we have got to be very, very tough, and we have got to be as cautious as we can, whilst we continue to open up."

The EU is also considering bringing in Covid certificates to help travel.