But with Delta variant concerns on the rise and an uptick in recent cases, the European Union has introduced strict protocols for the entry of travellers.
What is an EU green pass?
An EU-wide Covid certificate for easier travel came into force on Thursday.
The EU document — sporting a QR code and available in digital form on smartphones or hard copy — shows whether the bearer is vaccinated with one of the EU’s approved jabs (from BioNTech/Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson), has recovered from an infection, or has a recent negative Covid test.
The digital certificate, known as the green pass, will allow individuals inoculated with any of the approved jabs to travel across the EU nations without much hindrance.
Under an EU law adopted this month, the certificate does away with the need for quarantines or further testing when travelling between the EU’s 27 countries or four associated European nations (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein).
Can Indians travel to EU countries yet?
Currently, the EU has not approved Covishield and Covaxin – the two vaccines in mass use in India – for inclusion in its vaccination certificate. This means that Indians inoculated with these two vaccines won’t be able to travel to EU nations.
However, on Thursday, at least seven EU countries added locally-made Covishield to their list of approved vaccines. These are Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Greece, Ireland, Estonia and Spain. Iceland and Switzerland, which are non-EU members, have also given the green signal to Covishield.
Are there further entry restrictions?
While access for tourists from some countries outside the bloc has become easier, others continue to impose draconian restrictions as governments try to avert a fourth coronavirus wave while throwing tourism a lifeline.
The world’s top tourist destination uses a colour-coded map laying out entry protocols, with EU residents who are vaccinated or have a negative PCR test able to enter freely.
The same goes for a number of “green” countries, including the United States, Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand and Singapore.
Visitors from “orange” zones, which include Britain and most of Asia and Africa, have to produce a recent negative Covid test even when vaccinated.
For non-vaccinated people coming from “orange” zones, however, only essential trips are allowed and a seven-day self-quarantine imposed.
Just over 20 countries remain largely off-limits, including India, South Africa and much of South America, including Brazil.
Anyone who has been fully vaccinated can enter Spain, irrespective of their point of origin.
Arrivals from several countries or regions no longer even need proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. They are Albania, Australia, South Korea, the United States, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Macao.
Non-vaccinated travellers from EU countries need to produce a negative Covid test less than 48 hours old.
Arrivals from Britain, which makes up the biggest foreign tourist group in Spain, again need to show a negative PCR test, a requirement that had been dropped previously.
Arrivals from the EU can enter Italy freely if they have either been fully vaccinated, recovered from Covid or present a negative Covid test less than 48 hours old.
The same goes for passengers arriving from the United States, Canada, Japan, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Rwanda, Singapore and Thailand.
Visitors from Britain are subject to a five-day quarantine after presentation of a negative test. A second test is required after quarantine.
Italy remains off-limits for tourists from Brazil, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
What about UK?
Currently, travelers from India cannot directly enter the UK as flights between the two nations remain suspended.
Even UK residents who are traveling from destinations on the “red list,” which includes South Africa, India, Namibia and the United Arab Emirates, can enter the country only after mandatory quarantine on arrival.
Quid pro quo?
Meanwhile, India is pushing hard to get locally administered vaccines approved by the EU.
On Thursday, India said it will not recognise EU’s digital covid certificate until the EU includes Indian vaccines Covishield and Covaxin in the certificate.
“We have conveyed to EU Member States that India will institute a reciprocal policy for recognition of the EU Digital Covid Certificate. Upon notification of Covishield and Covaxin for inclusion in the EU Digital Covid Certificate and recognition of Indian CoWIN vaccination certificates, Indian health authorities would reciprocally exempt the concerned EU Member State for exemption from mandatory quarantine all those persons carrying EU Digital Covid Certificate,” sources said.
(With inputs from agencies)