Holidaymakers travelling to the EU could be required to show proof of a booster as early as Easter next year.
Inews reports that British holidaymakers who have not had a booster jab may be banned from travelling to European tourist destinations under new rules.
The European Union is expected to unveil new Covid-19 travel guidelines based on vaccination status rather than country of origin, after its health agency recommended boosters for all.
The proposal will give guidance on how long vaccinations should remain valid, with some EU member states already setting an expiration date on vaccine certificates: users would need a booster for the pass to stay valid.
Tourists travelling to the EU could be required to show proof of their booster as early as Easter next year.
However, it does not mean a ban on unvaccinated travel, despite European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warning of a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”. A valid negative test uploaded onto the Covid pass will offer a second pillar for travellers who had their second jab more than six months earlier, but they will need to be aware of the rules and potentially pay for testing.
There is no consensus yet on how soon the Covid pass would expire after the second vaccine, with six, nine and 12-month periods all being suggested.
The EC could issue new guidelines as soon as Thursday to take account of booster vaccines, as it grapples with surging cases and hospitalisations across the bloc.
The move is aimed at smoothing out rules on free travel, as EU members adopt different approaches to managing booster jabs.
EU countries will have to adjust their quarantine policies to target those without a valid EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate – used to travel or to enter bars, restaurants, hotels and museums – or a recognised equivalent like the UK’s NHS Covid pass.
The Commission’s move to rewrite the guidelines comes after the EU’s public health agency called on Wednesday for vaccine boosters to be considered for all adults.
“Countries should also consider a booster dose for all adults 18 years and older, with a priority for people above 40 years old,” said Andrea Ammon, the director of the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC). “There are still too many individuals at risk of severe COVID-19 infection whom we need to protect as soon as possible. We need to urgently focus on closing this immunity gap, offer booster doses to all adults, and reintroduce nonpharmaceutical measures.”
The ECDC also called for tighter public health measures to achieve a “high contact reduction,” including limiting year-end social events, more mask-wearing, and working from home.
Greece is pushing hard to make booster shots a condition for free travel for over-60s in the EU. “Such a policy initiative will help our health systems to… sustain control over the virus and pandemic without moving to new horizontal restrictions that would put in jeopardy the recovery of our economies,” prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday said in a letter to Mrs Von der Leyen.
The European office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that Europe could see over two million pandemic deaths by March, up by 700,000 from the current death toll in the 53-country region. The director of WHO Europe, Robb Butler, on Wednesday suggested countries should start thinking about mandatory vaccines in the wake of Austria’s plans to make it compulsory from February.
Only 67.7 per cent of the EU population is fully vaccinated, but rates vary widely between countries, with low levels in many eastern countries. Only 24.2 per cent of Bulgarians are fully vaccinated, compared with 86.7 per cent in Portugal.
(Story source: Inews)