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EU Could Ease Restrictions on Nonessential Visitors

FILE - Tourists enjoy a gondola ride in Venice, Italy, May 16, 2021. The European Union is looking to allow its member countries to welcome fully vaccinated visitors from outside the bloc.

The European Union announced Wednesday it would recommend its member countries allow fully vaccinated visitors from outside the bloc.

European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand told reporters in Brussels that ambassadors of the EU's 27 member states agreed to ease the criteria for nations to be considered a safe country from which all people can travel.

Currently, only seven nations are considered safe, based on their COVID-19 infection rates.

The EU imposed strict measures last year to contain outbreaks, but the bloc's ambassadors say many of the restrictions on nonessential travel should be eased as more people around the world are vaccinated and the summer tourism season approaches.

Wigand said under the newly approved guidelines, travelers must prove they received all required doses of an EU-approved vaccine. He said the plan also calls for an "emergency brake" that would allow member states to close their borders to travelers from nations experiencing new outbreaks.

The spokesman did not give a precise date when the borders will reopen, since EU countries have yet to formally approve the measure. But EU ministers are expected to formally adopt the proposal and release the full new list of "safe" countries Friday.

EU officials told The New York Times the new rules could go into effect as early as next week.