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The European Council updated its recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU from third countries. On 20 May 2021, the Council confirmed that Member States should in principle lift restrictions on non-essential travel for third country travellers who have received the last recommended dose of an EMA approved vaccine at least 14 days before arrival. 

In addition, the recommendation is for Member States to consider reciprocity on a case-by-case, where restrictions are lifted. Once the EU digital green certificate regulation is adopted (likely June 2021), it will provide the basis for treating third country vaccination certificates equivalent to digital green certificates. Until then, Member States should accept third country certificates containing a minimum data set in order to authenticate validity. 

Where the epidemiological situation of a third country/region worsens, Member States should adopt an emergency brake mechanism and reimplement temporary travel restrictions. However, this emergency brake should not be applied to EU citizens or residents. EU Member States can decide if and how they adopt the Council’s recommendations and a country-specific assessment of entry requirements is still advised. 

In other global news, the much-anticipated quarantine-free air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong, set to open on 26 May 2021, has been suspended for a second time due to the increase in infections in Singapore. The air travel bubble was initially targeting a November 2020 rollout. However, it was suspended the first time due to a rise in infection rates in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government has said that a further announcement on the air travel bubble would be made on or around 13 June 2021.