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EU leaders agree borders should stay open



As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, EU leaders agreed during a video summit Thursday to restrict nonessential travel if necessary but avoid border closures, according to a senior EU official and an EU diplomat monitoring the discussions.

The general consensus on avoiding border closures came relatively early in the videoconference and signaled that EU heads of state and government are determined to avoid repeating some of the mistakes from the early weeks of the pandemic last year, even as countries are now confronting larger numbers of infections and hospitalizations.

Last March, chaos ensued as many EU countries unilaterally closed their borders, stranding travelers and disrupting essential commerce.

During their discussion, the leaders also agreed that it was too soon for citizens who had received a coronavirus vaccination to claim any travel privileges.

For the time being, at such an early stage in the immunization process, leaders decided that vaccine certificates should be regarded solely as a medical document, and not used for travel purposes. Some countries now require arriving travelers to show proof of a recent, negative coronavirus test.

On their call, leaders were discussing how to adapt previous guidelines they had adopted on maintaining common travel rules. The overarching goal, according to the official, was to keep borders open while potentially imposing tighter restrictions on nonessential travel in the hopes of slowing the spread of the virus.

Florian Eder contributed reporting.



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