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TRAVEL NEWS

Vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to Europe this summer, says EU chief

Americans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to visit the EU this summer, president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has vowed.

Vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to Europe this summer, says EU chief
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: John Thys/AFP

“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” von der Leyen told The New York Times.

“This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.

“Because one thing is clear: the 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines approved by the EMA”, Von der Leyen said.

US health authorities have recommended the Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, all of which are also authorised for use in the EU.

The president of the EU Commission did not spell out a timeline on when exactly US tourists would be able to visit EU countries or what documentation they would need, however the European Parliament is debating vaccine passports on Wednesday, April 28th.
 
The European Union halted all non-essential travel to the bloc in March 2020 to limit the spread of coronavirus.
 
While border policy is a matter for individual member states, the EU has adopted some rules across the bloc particularly around travel from outside Europe.
 
Last month the head of the European Commission vaccines task force, Thierry Breton, unveiled the first European “health passport”, claiming he hopes Europe will have a summer season “comparable to last year”. 
 
The provisional plans for the health passport include an option to show either a vaccination certificate or a recent Covid test.
 
 
The new health certificate should be available “within two to three months” in both digital and paper formats.
 
Americans who are frequent visitors to European countries have been eagerly awaiting news that governments will relax travel restrictions, but with a third wave of Covid-19 infections hitting much of Europe their hopes have been dashed.
 
The EU’s initially slow vaccine rollout has also hampered the chances that borders would soon reopen to non-essential travel from outside the bloc.
 
And for the time being at least Americans have been advised not to travel to Europe, even if they are vaccinated.
 
Last week the US government increased its travel warning for most EU countries to “Level 4 – Do Not Travel”, citing “very high” Covid-19 numbers.
 
The warning does not bar Americans from travel to these countries, however the Department of State warns that insurance policies may not be valid.
 
What is “essential” travel?

The EU does not define what counts as an “imperative reason”, however people who can travel into the European bloc now include:

  • Citizens of an EU country
  • Non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home
  • Healthcare workers engaged in crucial work on the coronavirus crisis
  • Frontier workers and in some circumstances seasonal workers
  • Delivery drivers
  • Diplomats, humanitarian or aid workers
  • Passengers in transit
  • Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons
  • Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons
  • Third country nationals travelling for the purpose of study
  • Highly qualified third-country workers IF their employment is essential from an economic perspective and cannot be postponed or performed abroad

Find more details on the exemptions here.

 
 
 

Member comments

  1. I’m an American hoping to take a long-awaited trip to Geneva/Lausanne and London, in August. For those familiar with how such things tend to go, is it reasonable to expect that Switzerland and the UK will follow in the EU’s footsteps and open up to fully-vaccinated tourists from the United States over the Summer?

    Thanks in advance for any input.

    1. I’m British living in Italy and think it’s very likely that the UK will open up to American tourists by August. I have my fingers crossed for you!

  2. I have owned a house in Italy for 20 years, but I am not a resident. i am a retired British resident but have been used to spending at least 5 months a year in Italy at a time of my choosing. My house has been used for tourism being let for holidays in the past. Can I apply for a visa extension to allow me visits of any duration?
    I do not work in Italy, or have family residents in Italy, and I am too old to be a student. I contribute all local taxes in my commune and i contribute to the local economy. Can I apply for a long stay visa simply as a home owner?
    I would appreciate any information. Thank you.
    Sally
    ?

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TRAVEL NEWS

Why Switzerland is set to build a rail tunnel along Lake Geneva

Swiss MPs have green-lighted the construction of a 9-kilometre-long railway tunnel between two Vaud municipalities, extending the track between Geneva and Lausanne.

Why Switzerland is set to build a rail tunnel along Lake Geneva

Swiss MPs have green-lighted the construction of a railway tunnel between two Vaud municipalities.

After the acceptance of the move by the Council of States in December, the National Council has also given its approval this week to an ambitious 1.3-billion-franc project to build a train tunnel along the 9-km section along Lake Geneva.

The tunnel, which will connect the communities of Morges and Perroy in canton Vaud, will be part of a larger project aiming to extend the track between Lausanne and Geneva.

Why is this tunnel in western Switzerland important for the entire country?

The Swiss rail network, especially the InterCity (IC) trains that criss-cross the breadth and width of the entire country, is tightly interconnected.

Therefore, if there is a disruption on any segment of the network, it will have a domino effect on other parts of the country, causing delays along the way.

And if there is one thing the Swiss absolutely loathe, it is delays — whether of their own trains or those arriving from Germany.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland beats Germany for reliable trains

It so happens that the 66-kilometre-long track connecting Lausanne to Geneva has had some major problems in recent years, including a hole in the ground that had formed between the tracks, paralysing traffic on the line. 

This, and other traffic-disrupting incidents, have prompted legislators to try to find a mutually acceptable solution — especially since the Lausanne to Geneva line “is used by 70,000 people per day, and when it experiences problems, all of Switzerland is affected,” according to MP Johanna Gapany.

And, as another deputy, Charles Juillard, explained, when it comes to railroad improvement projects, “French-speaking Switzerland is significantly behind schedule, and construction sites are not progressing at the pace they should.” 

Track versus tunnel

Even though a third track between the two cities would have been cheaper to create, MPs decided a tunnel would be a better option.

Besides the risk of the local population opposing the lengthy above-the-ground construction process, the tunnel will create a better ‘avoidance route’ in the event of disruptions on the main line between Lausanne and Geneva, according to MP Hans Wicki.

“It will also increase capacity [on the line] and give more flexibility to operations,” he added.

Now that it has been approved, the new project could see the light (at the end of the tunnel) between 2035 and 2040.

READ ALSO: Five things you didn’t know about Switzerland’s rail network

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