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EU member states agree to relax Covid-19 restrictions to allow fully vaccinated citizens to travel during summer

Representatives from the European Union’s 27 member states have agreed to let citizens move freely around the bloc over the summer if they have been fully vaccinated, allowing people to avoid costly tests or lengthy quarantines.

The proposal, announced by Portugal, the current EU president, received unanimous support, paving the way for citizens to travel freely from one country to another within the European bloc, as long as they’ve been vaccinated for at least 14 days.

The ambassadors for the 27 EU nations also backed altering restrictions for other arrivals, basing it on a country-by-country basis depending on the infection rate within those nations and the risk of transmission. The move comes days after EU lawmakers supported the introduction of a new travel certificate measure. The certs will be issued for free and will show whether the holder has been fully vaccinated, received a recent negative test result or has recovered from Covid-19.  

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The EU-wide travel certificate will be fully recognized by member states from July 1 for a period of 12 months, letting the bloc expand travel throughout the continent and reopen the tourism industry ahead of the popular summer holiday months.

The new measure will allow the EU to relax its existing travel traffic light system that governs which countries are safe to visit and which nations have a higher risk of infection. However, despite the travel certificates, member states will have the option to use an “emergency brake” at any point to bar all travelers from regions that show a rise in infections from new, more transmissible strains.

With nations rolling out their own inoculation programs as the EU supports its member states, just over a quarter of adults across the bloc have been fully vaccinated.

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