EU Member States Trying To Reach Agreement On Ways To Ease Travel Restrictions
EU Member States are trying to reach agreement on ways to ease COVID-19 pandemic-related travel restrictions within and into the bloc as leaders work to boost COVID-19 vaccination levels.
As reported by The Irish Independent, one option that is under discussion ahead of a two-day EU summit in Brussels is a plan to effectively scrap the traffic-light system of green and red areas in the bloc that has been used to govern travel rules and instead allow anyone who has been vaccinated to travel freely, according to a European Commission informal proposal seen by Bloomberg.
The plan would reportedly rely on the use of the widely adopted EU Digital COVID Certificates, which have allowed travellers to cross borders without tests or quarantines since the summer if they can show they've been fully inoculated or recovered from the virus. Travellers without a COVID Certificate could reportedly be required to undergo tests after arriving at their destination.
The European Commission proposal reportedly says, "Given the very sizeable impact on the exercise of free movement, persons traveling within the EU should in principle no longer be required to quarantine save for very exceptional situations (e.g. new variants of concern)."
Other jurisdictions have reportedly stated to open up rapidly in recent weeks after a slower start, with the UK simplifying its own traffic light system to a green and red list, with the latter now featuring only seven countries as of earlier this month.
The US, meanwhile, will admit vaccinated foreigners starting from November 8, reportedly spurring demand on transatlantic routes that rank as the most lucrative for airlines and travel firms.
At the same time, there are reportedly some worrying COVID-19 trends that could slow the push to relax the rules. Tuesday October 19 reportedly saw the most single-day confirmed deaths in Europe since April, with the seven-day average reportedly also on the rise. Ireland's infection rates are reportedly also increasing.
A second option proposed by the Commission would reportedly retain the traffic-light system, but refine the data used to produce the ratings. Member nations would reportedly be encouraged to implement simpler and more standardised rules for handling travellers from red or grey zones.
The Commission proposal would reportedly also maintain the use of the so-called emergency brake mechanism to be used to case of new variants of concern or outbreaks, but would reportedly aim to establish a common framework for when new restrictions should be triggered.
Fully Vaccinated Irish Travellers Can Travel Thailand from Next Month
In other Ireland-related travel news, as also reported by The Irish Independent, Thailand will let vaccinated visitors from 46 countries forgo COVID-19 quarantine from next month, up from 10 previously announced, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has said.
Thailand is reportedly poised to introduce new quarantine-free travel arrangements on November 1 as it reportedly seeks to revive its vital tourism industry.
The 46 countries reportedly include Ireland, Britain, the United States, China, Singapore, Germany and Australia, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Prayuth reportedly said that the visitors can skip mandatory quarantine as long as they arrive via air, have been fully vaccinated and have a document to show they are virus-free.
Thailand will reportedly reopen its capital Bangkok and other key tourist destinations, including Hua Hin and Pattaya, where curfews will be lifted at the end of the month, according to the Royal Gazette released.
Strict entry requirements and quarantine measures reportedly helped keep Thailand's COVID-19 outbreaks under control until recent months, but the curbs reportedly saw arrival numbers plummet to a fraction of the nearly 40 million visitors seen in 2019.
Thailand reportedly lost approximately $50 billion (€43 billion) in tourism revenue last year, which was reportedly an 82% plunge.
It reportedly started with a pilot reopening that began on July 1 on its most popular island, Phuket, which has reportedly been vaccinating most of its local population.
Only 100,000 foreign visitors are reportedly expected this year, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Israel is reportedly also planning to allow individual tourists who are vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter from month, while, as mentioned above, the US will allow travel to resume for non-citizens that are fully vaccinated and carry a negative COVID-19 test result from November 8.
© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.