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Travel Europe? EU proposes reopening borders

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BRUSSELS (WKOW) — The EU is considering a measure that would, for the first time in months, allow you to travel Europe very soon.

In an announcement sure to be welcomed by travelers worldwide, the EU’s executive branch has proposed easing restrictions on visiting the 27-nation bloc as vaccination campaigns keep gathering speed.

Travel to the EU is currently extremely limited except for a handful of countries with low infection rates. But with summer tourism looming, the European Commission hopes that the new recommendations will help dramatically expand that list.

EU officials believe the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns will soon be “a game changer,” especially in Europe.

Its proposal will be discussed with EU ambassadors this week and EU officials hope it could start by June.

The context

The first reports that the EU could soon be reopening its borders to tourists surfaced last week.

The U.S. first blocked travel to Europe in the early days of the pandemic last year. At the time, European leaders denounced the U.S. action. But the EU followed suit not long after.

Former President Donald Trump initially came under fire for blocking travel from some nations, including China. Public health recommendations about limiting travel soon backed up Trump's actions at that front. The travel restrictions were some few concrete steps the Trump administration could point to in the early days of the pandemic of its attempts to respond.

The travel industry, especially airlines, suffered in the immediate wake of the first COVID-19 response measures that slammed the economy. Fear of the virus prompted many people to avoid enclosed areas with lots of people like airports.

Airlines suspended flights, including out of Dane County Regional Airport due to the drop in travel.

Last year, the European Commission launched an initiative designed to encourage tourists to travel Europe internally. The program uses travel recommendations and a contact tracing app. Reports did not indicate if travelers from outside the EU would need to participate in a similar program.

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