Travellers will be recognised as fully vaccinated for only nine months after their last jab under new European Union guidelines.
Revised recommendations for travel across Europe have come into effect. The EU promises: “A coordinated approach to facilitate safe free movement during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The new policy aims to “simplify the applicable rules” and “provide additional clarity and predictability to travellers”.
The principle is that the traveller’s vaccination, test or recovery status will be the key determinant of travel restrictions – “with the exception of areas where the virus is circulating at very high levels”.
Full vaccination is deemed to be “at least 14 days and no more than 270 days have passed since the last dose of the primary vaccination series or if the person has received a booster dose”.
The new guidelines say: “Travellers in possession of a valid EU digital Covid certificate should not be subject to additional restrictions to free movement.”
As an alternative to vaccination, travellers can use a negative test result: either a rapid antigen (lateral flow) no more than 24 hours before travel or a PCR result obtained no more than 72 hours before travel.
A certificate of recovery showing a maximum of 180 days (almost six months) since the date of the first positive test result is also acceptable.
Children under 12 should be exempt, the EU says.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) will continue to publish a map showing the potential risk of infection with each area coded green, orange, red or dark red depending on “the 14-day case notification rate, vaccine uptake and testing rate”.
Travel restrictions should be imposed for travel to and from dark red areas, where the virus is circulating at very high levels, the EU says.
“They should in particular discourage all non-essential travel and require persons arriving from those areas who are not in possession of a vaccination or recovery certificate to undergo a test prior to departure and to quarantine after arrival.”
Should a new variant of concern emerge, member states could deploy an “emergency brake” to restrict travel.
The recommendations are not legally binding, and every European Union country can decide whether to apply, amend or ignore them, and impose its own rules for visitors from the UK and other non-EU nations.
Italy, for example, says that visitors from the UK must have had their final vaccine within 180 days of visiting Italy.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies