Across the EU, borders are reopening to tourists from the US, UK and antipodes as a group of diplomats meeting in Brussels officially signed off on the plan. The European Commission, the unelected committee of bureaucrats that handles most of the bloc's executive policymaking, first got the word out back in April that tourists in wealthy countries who could prove their vaccination status could start booking European vacations again.
According to the AFP, the recommendations will be officially adopted by EU ministers on May 21. Until then, non-essential travel to the 27-member bloc will be banned, as it has been since last spring, when the pandemic first emerged from Wuhan.
The Commission has agreed to raft a list of approved vaccination certificates, and EU officials will also discuss on Thursday a "white list" of non-EU countries deemed to present a low risk of spreading the disease. The list will be updated based on the epidemiological situation and requires reassessments based on the infection rate every two weeks.
Over the past week, more EU members have started to reopen, stoking hope in the European "miracle recovery" narrative that is helping to sustain many equity bulls in the face of growing skepticism about the Fed's assistance that price pressures will be "transitory". Just yesterday, Denmark announced that it would be the first in the bloc to more or less fully reopen, with everything except nightclubs being allowed to reopen at full capacity as soon as Friday. At that time, it will phase out the use of a domestic vaccination passport. It plans to drop use of facemasks over the summer, according to the FT.
Health minister Magnus Heunicke said Denmark was “in a very favourable place” in the pandemic despite a small rise in recent Covid-19 cases, and that its mass testing capabilities and the possibility of local lockdowns enabled it to push ahead with more reopening.
But businesses on the continent are reopening as virus restrictions are phased out and bars, hotels and restaurants are worried about the summer tourist trade.
Diplomats said that, under the new rules, travellers who could demonstrate that they had received the required number of doses of an EU-approved vaccine could enter the EU. In addition, diplomats agreed to raise the threshold to cut off travel, saying that the number of cases per 100K people that a country could register over two weeks and still be considered for the green list will rise from 25 to 75.
Britain reopened its economy on Monday, the culmination of a gradual reopening that began last month.
On the Continent, France has lifted its travel ban, Spain allowed its six-month old "state of alert", to lapse and Germany eased its economy-crushing lockdown. Italy has also steadily loosened restrictions over the past month, with people preparing to return to gyms and indoor pools.
Case numbers have come down across the EU, but the pullback hasn't been uniform, and some pockets of heightened spread persist.
Of course, the order will exclude billions of people, mostly non-vaccinated denizens of the developing world. As Europe reopens, over in Asia, the situation is very different. Singapore and Taiwan have reinstated lockdown measures, and India has seen a plunge in fuel demand following restrictions to curb infections.