The European Union will ease travel restrictions for vaccinated residents in its 27-nation bloc, The New York Times reported.
According to the EU’s recommendation, announced on Tuesday, residents with a COVID-19 digital certificate stating they are fully vaccinated, a certificate of their recent recovery from the virus or a negative test result from within 72 hours will be able to move freely across the bloc.
However, the EU also recommended additional restrictions for residents who are unvaccinated or haven’t recovered from the virus and are coming from areas the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control indicates have a high rate of infections.
The latest rules are intended to help coordinate travel restrictions across the EU, according to the Times. Member countries can still impose additional restrictions on travelers.
This comes as countries around the world continue to deal with a winter surge of COVID-19 infections driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant.
The World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said Monday in a statement that the ongoing spread of the omicron variant could make the pandemic more manageable.
“Omicron offers plausible hope for stabilization and normalization,” Kluge said.
He cautioned, however, that “our work is not done. Huge disparities in access to vaccines remain. If 2021 was the year of vaccine production, 2022 must be the year of vaccine equity in the European Region and beyond.”
“Too many people who need the vaccine remain unvaccinated,” Kluge continued. “This is helping to drive transmission, prolonging the pandemic and increasing the likelihood of new variants.”
The EU’s latest rules will take effect on Feb. 1, the Times noted.