EU calls to scrap quarantine and testing for Europeans holding vaccine passports

31 May 2021, 12:16 | Updated: 31 May 2021, 12:48

The EU Digital Covid Certificate is at the heart of plans to reopen travel within Europe without the need for quarantine or tests.
The EU Digital Covid Certificate is at the heart of plans to reopen travel within Europe without the need for quarantine or tests. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The European Commission has recommended that EU citizens travelling within Europe should not be required to quarantine or take a Covid test if they have a certificate showing they have been vaccinated or recently had the virus.

The new proposal paves the way for the unlocking of travel on the continent as the sluggish vaccination programme begins to pick up speed.

At the heart of the plans is the EU's Digital Covid Certificate, a digital passport that will be introduced from 1 July and contain information about an individuals Covid-19 vaccination history and recent PCR or lateral flow test results.

Anyone who has had two doses of the vaccine, has recovered from Covid in the last 180 days or has a negative test within the last three days will be exempt from all quarantine and travel testing arrangements, under the proposals.

Read more: UK travellers will need 'compelling reasons' to enter France

Explained: UK travel rules: Can I holiday abroad and which countries are allowing Brits to enter?

With the UK now out of the EU, the current plans will not apply to UK travellers, who are likely to still face testing and quarantine rules this summer.

However, EU Commissioner Didier Reynders reportedly told a briefing that the EU will talk with third countries, including the UK, about mutual recognition of vaccine certificates.

Commenting on the announcement, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: "Europeans should enjoy a safe and relaxing summer.

"As vaccination progresses, we propose to gradually ease travel measures in a coordinated way with our common tool: the EU Digital COVID Certificate.

"It will bring clarity and predictability as we resume free travel in the EU."

However, the proposals do include provisions for EU countries to re-introduce "emergency brake" travel restrictions for areas where cases are rising rapidly or there is high prevalence of variants of concern.

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While the EU Commission pushes for the continent to open up, in a blow to UK holidaymakers from Monday travellers entering France from Britain will have to provide "compelling reasons" to enter the country.

Travel to France from the UK will only be permitted for EU nationals, French residents, or those travelling for essential reasons, amidst concern over the spread of the Indian variant.

Those who are allowed to make the journey must take a pre-departure Covid test and quarantine for seven days on arrival.

France's move follows Germany starting to require people arriving from the UK to go into quarantine for 14 days, again in response to the spread of the Indian variant.

More to follow.