More than a year after the European Union shut down most nonessential travel from other countries, the president of the European Commission said vaccinated American tourists will likely be able to start visiting the EU again in the foreseeable future. "All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by [European Medicines Agency]," which the three vaccines currently used in the US are, Ursula von der Leyen told the New York Times on Sunday. "This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union." She noted that while there are epidemiological factors that could influence the decision, things seem to be improving in both the US and the EU, and the US is on track to vaccinate 70% of its adults by mid-June.
She did not, however, offer a specific timeline or exact details on what would happen, but the Times theorizes the European Commission could recommend a change to travel guidelines by this summer. In that scenario, individual member states could still enforce stricter requirements. But many countries that are largely dependent on tourism, including Greece, are pushing for an easing of restrictions. The Commission is working with US Homeland Security on the details of opening travel back up, USA Today reports. "What the world is basically saying is, they're looking at the US, they're looking at the success of our vaccination program, they're looking at the reduction of disease, and while they know we're not done yet, they're saying those Americans are safe to come to our country without risk of spreading COVID-19," White House senior adviser Andy Slavitt tells CNN of von der Leyen's comments. (Read more coronavirus stories.)