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EU official: Vaccinated Americans can visit Europe this summer

Americans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to visit the European Union (EU) this summer, more than a year after nonessential travel was suspended between the U.S. and Europe amid the pandemic.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told The New York Times in Brussels on Sunday that EU member states will “accept, unconditionally” people who are inoculated with European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines.

“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” von der Leyen told the Times. “This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.”

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“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.A.,” she added.

The European Medicines Agency, which is the EU’s drugs regulator, has approved the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the Times noted, which are all being administered in the U.S.

Von der Leyen said the reopening of travel hinges on the “epidemiological situation.” But she added that “the situation is improving in the United States, as it is, hopefully, also improving in the European Union.”

She said the U.S. was “on track” and making “huge progress” toward reaching herd immunity, or the vaccination of 70 percent of adults, by the middle of June.

Von der Leyen did not disclose to the Times when tourist travel may restart or how it would happen.

According to the Times, von der Leyen’s comments signal that the European Commission plans to recommend the stated policy change, but individual member countries may reserve the right to implement the shift or keep stricter limits in place. The Times noted that countries may not allow individuals from outside the bloc to enter their territories, or they may impose restrictions such as quarantines.

The U.S., however, is still monitoring what countries its citizens can travel to amid the pandemic. Last week, the State Department announced that it planned to expand its “do not travel” advisory to about 80 percent of countries worldwide as cases began to surge again.

Among the countries already on the list prior to the expansion were Chad, Kosovo, Kenya, Brazil, Argentina, Haiti, Mozambique, Russia and Tanzania.