On Dec. 21, the European Commission announced a rule that would make European Union COVID-19 certificates valid for nine months after holders become fully vaccinated. The certificate was born out of efforts to allow free movement among EU residents, even when crossing borders.
Meanwhile, some EU nations are tightening entry requirements on travelers from other EU countries. Governments throughout the continent are motivated to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The rule, however, could still get rejected. Either a simple majority of European Parliament members or a qualified majority of affected governments could stop it in its tracks.
Members of the Commission stated that the rule has enough support to move forward.
If the rule goes into effect on Feb. 21 as planned, all EU nations will have to allow entry to fully vaccinated visitors as long as they have a valid pass.
Countries will nonetheless be able to seek exemptions. To do so, a nation’s authorities will have to prove that further restrictions are vital.
Some affected nations have imposed additional entry requirements on fully vaccinated visitors from within the EU. Italy, Greece, and several other countries won’t accept travelers without negative COVID-19 test results.
Though some nations currently have more stringent requirements than the new rule would allow, those countries are unlikely to face infringement procedures — as long as the additional requirements are limited in duration. Such procedures would result in negative consequences for countries that don’t comply.
Most of the restrictions that exceed those favored by the Commission are temporary, instituted specifically for the management of winter holiday travelers.
In Europe, detected cases of the Omicron variant are doubling every two to three days, and the vast majority come from community transmission. Omicron seems to be significantly more contagious than other variants.