European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the New York Times Sunday that vaccinated American tourists are expected to be able to travel to the EU this summer, although she did not say exactly what time travel would resume.
Europe closed its borders to most American travelers last year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“Americans, as far as I know, use vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency,” von der Leyen told the newspaper. “This will allow free movement and travel to the European Union.”
She said the restrictions would be lifted depending on the epidemiological situation in the United States.
“But the situation is improving in the United States, as it is hopefully also in the European Union,” added von der Leyen.
Von der Leyen’s remarks come after French President Emmanuel Macron told U.S. broadcaster CBS earlier this month that France was finalizing its plan to let Americans in vaccinated this summer.
How many people in the United States have been vaccinated?
BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently in use in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28.5% of U.S. citizens (over 94 million people) have been fully immunized, with 42.2% (nearly 140 million) having received at least one dose of a vaccine.
CDC data also reveals that more than 5 million Americans missed their second injection of the BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Epidemiologists recommend that patients receive two doses of these vaccines for the longest lasting protection against the virus.
How is the vaccination campaign going in the EU?
The United States currently overtakes the EU in terms of vaccinations, with 128 million doses having been administered to 21% of the EU population on Saturday, according to the AFP news agency.
EU leaders have taken action to tackle the bloc’s vaccine shortage, with the EU having recently reached a deal with BioNTech-Pfizer for an additional 1.8 billion doses of its vaccine from this year to 2023.
European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said on Sunday that the EU had purchased enough doses of the vaccine to achieve herd immunity by mid-July.
When did the travel restrictions start?
The EU restricted non-essential travel from the United States in March of last year, with a few exceptions, and continued its policy throughout the pandemic.
Former President Donald Trump implemented a travel ban from 26 European countries to the United States in the same month.
Trump tried to ease travel restrictions on European travelers shortly before stepping down in January, but that was quickly overturned by President Joe Biden’s administration later that month. The United States has yet to announce its intention to allow travel from the EU.