Europe is planning to open its borders to fully vaccinated Americans this summer, providing hope that Canadians will also find Europe’s doors open when our vaccine rollout catches up.
The news dropped this weekend just as travel industry leaders met in person at the World Travel and Tourism Council’s global summit in Cancun, marking welcome news after more than a year of border closures for nonessential travel due to the global pandemic.
“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said Sunday in an interview with The New York Times in Brussels. “This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union. Because one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by E.M.”
Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson shots have all been approved by the agency, the bloc’s drugs regulator. The Times article didn’t include it, but Vaxzevria (better known as AstraZeneca) has also been approved. It’s being widely given out in Canada but has not yet been approved in the U.S.
The newspaper also didn’t specifically ask Von Der Leyen about Canada, but according to her comments, it would seem the same rules should apply.
Von der Leyen noted the “huge progress” the U.S. was making with its vaccination rollout and the fact it’s on track to have 70 per cent of adults by mid-June. According to the Canadian government, about 21.84 per cent of the population has received only one dose, and 2.37 per cent has received two doses.
The 27 member countries of the European Union have endorsed the idea of a vaccine certificate, according to The Times, and while there is talk of a coordinated approach, each country ultimately sets its own rules.
The Times aid that the EU has started giving out “digital green certificates,” which will state whether the traveller has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has recently recovered from the disease or has tested negative for the virus in the past few days.
Despite Von der Leyen’s comments, The Times said individual member states may reserve the right to keep stricter limits. Some might not welcome travellers from outside the bloc to visit or might impose quarantines — even on those with vaccination certificates.
The Times noted that “countries like Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Croatia that welcome millions of American tourists each summer, and greatly depend on them for income and jobs, are set to jump at the opportunity to reopen to the American tourism market with the E.U.’s blessing.”
It noted: “For millions of would-be tourists around the world, as well as for airlines and the broader travel industry, it would herald a cautious and limited return to something that feels like normalcy.”
Meanwhile, more than 20 countries gathered in Cancun for the WTTC’s annual summit, whose 2021 theme is “United the World for Recovery.” More people were expected to connect to the event virtually.
According to Travel Weekly, The Times story went online as tourism ministers at the summit were calling for common protocols to open borders. They called for “uniform standards and public-private cooperation and leadership to reopen global tourism.”