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Vaccinated Britons set to be welcome in Germany

By Earle Gale in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-07-05 03:42
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson walk through the garden at Chequers, the official country residence of the Prime Minister, in Buckinghamshire, Britain July 2, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

Double-jabbed Britons will soon be able to visit Germany, in yet another relaxation of rules that restrict the spread of the novel coronavirus.

With the July 19 end of the United Kingdom's remaining lockdown restrictions fast approaching, Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, said British travelers who have had two COVID-19 vaccinations will be welcome in her country "in the foreseeable future".

Currently, Britons must spend two weeks in quarantine upon arriving in Germany, regardless of their vaccination status. But Merkel announced the relaxation during a news briefing following face-to-face talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the UK on Friday.

"We are continually reviewing our travel restrictions," she said.

Johnson told reporters: "It seems as if progress is being made."

Merkel and some other EU leaders had previously taken a hard line against arrivals from the UK, after expressing concern about the fast spread of the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus within the UK.

But Merkel said the variant is now spreading fast in Germany, so attempts to stop it at the border are unnecessary.

Sky News said she had been ready to declare the UK a "country of concern" a matter of days ago, before her change of heart and the change in circumstance.

"We have adopted certain protective measures when we were not as yet so familiar with the Delta variant," she said. "We now see that the share of those with the Delta variant in Germany is increasing very rapidly."

Johnson and Merkel also talked about the fact that the European Union's new travel passport initiative, which aims to make movement easier for people who have been double-jabbed, does not recognize an India-made version of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccination.

The BBC said as many as 5 million Britons may have been given that vaccination, leaving them potentially unable to take advantage of the travel passport.

But Johnson said the India-made vaccine is believed to offer exactly the same degree of protection as the British-made Oxford/AstraZeneca jab and to have only failed to qualify for the travel passport initiative because the company has not yet sought approval for it from the European Medicines Agency.

The UK is now sharing its data on the jab with the relevant European agencies, the Financial Times reported.

Additionally, the World Health Organization has approved the India-made version of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, opening the door for the EU to use that data as well.

ITV News added that Johnson and Merkel also discussed ongoing tension in Northern Ireland caused by the fact that all sides are trying to avoid a land border between the United Kingdom province and neighboring Republic of Ireland, which is an EU member.

The Evening Standard newspaper said the meeting between Johnson and Merkel marks the start of a new phase of British diplomacy, with London now keen to form close ties with individual EU members in the wake of the UK's exit from the bloc.

The nations now plan to hold annual joint Cabinet meetings and increase exchanges.

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