4 Things to Know Before Traveling to Europe This Summer, According to an Expert

Stacey Leasca is an award-winning journalist. Her photos, videos, and words have appeared in print or online for Travel + Leisure, Time, Los Angeles Times, Glamour, and many more. You’ll usually find her in an airport. If you do see her there, please say hello.

Some European borders are open to American tourists. Others, however, remain adamantly closed. Some countries require a negative PCR test, others require a full vaccine identification card. Some are in the “green” list, others in the “amber”. and on, and on, and on, in one confusing jumble of post-pandemic haze that can admittedly make the return of travel a bit overwhelming. But if you’re ready, Luis Araújo, president of both the European Travel Commission and Visit Portugal, the Portuguese National Tourism Board, says book a ticket and stay a while — so long as you follow the rules.

“What you’ll find [in Europe] is a very controlled situation regarding the pandemic,” he told Travel + Leisure over Zoom. “Fortunately, in Europe, we have been controlling the spread of the disease, which is excellent. We have also been controlling the pressure on our national health system.”

Lisbon, Portugal city street view

Of course, like anywhere in the world today, there are spikes in certain places, he noted. But, at least now, Araújo said, officials are ready for whatever comes their way.

Here’s what Araújo says you need to know about visiting Portugal and Europe as a whole in the months to come.

The hospitality industry is working hard to welcome you.

“We’ve been working hard, and it’s not just Portugal,” he said. “Many, many countries have been working on new protocols in order to reassure the needs of everyone.”

Araújo pointed out that nations around Europe have worked out new safety and health systems to stem the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. And people in the hospitality space are happy to comply.

“Especially here in Portugal, everyone complies, there are very clear rules on what you can do,” he said, pointing to rules like the nation’s restaurant capacity regulations, mask mandates, and more.

He also called out Portugal’s Clean and Safe program, a certification issued to establishments that “comply with hygiene and cleaning requirements for the prevention and control of COVID-19 and other possible infections.” More than 22,000 companies have been certified with the program to date.

“Everyone is much more eager to welcome tourists,” Araújo added. “We see that not only because we’re here and we go to restaurants and we go out and we walk in the streets, but also because people are really happy to be with other people again.”

Be prepared to do your own homework.

“We are living in a very bizarre time,” Araújo said. “We need to be aware of all the things that are happening in the entire world.”

Travelers hoping to once again summer in Portugal, swim in the waters off the south of France, bounce around the Italian countryside, sip a beer in a British pub, or some combination of these activities must first be willing to put in the work to understand each individual country’s mandates and how to navigate them all. That’s because, as of now, there is no international system of rules, no agreed upon guidelines, and no one single centralized location to find out just what you need and where. While there are a few things you can rightfully assume — the need to carry a vaccine card if you have one, the likelihood that you’ll also need a negative COVID test and to fill out some pre-travel forms — there are still plenty of ways to gather intel.

Cozy old street with pink house at the sunny sunrise, quarter Montmartre in Paris, France

“Visit Portugal has all the information regarding moving inside Portugal and coming to Portugal,” Araújo said, adding there are other sites to peruse including Reopen EU, a website put together by the European Union that “provides information on the various measures in place, including quarantine and testing requirements for travelers, the EU Digital COVID certificate to help you exercise your right to free movement, and mobile coronavirus contact tracing and warning apps.”

“Hopefully,” Araújo said, for his country, “the vaccine will be sufficient one day, but for now we need to have the tests 72 hours prior.”

Travel insurance is more important than ever.

When asked if there’s a plan in place if another COVID-19 outbreak should occur across large swaths of Europe, Araújo didn’t quite point to a plan, but rather, the idea that we’ve all collectively learned from our past, our mistakes, and our misunderstandings, making it possible to be more prepared should the worst occur.

“What we see now is that there is much more information than we had a year ago,” he said. “Science has had a very big evolution. There has been a very big coordination in terms of health systems in order to prevent [a spike], and there has been a lot more shared information going from one place to the other.”

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A gondolier paddles towards the sunset in Venice's Grand Canal

While officials are working together for any plan B, Araújo notes you should as well, in the form of travel insurance for any trip you may have planned to Europe in the near future.

“There is a platform called Portugal Health Passport. If you register, you’ll gain access to the Portugal health system, and the public health system in Portugal is top of the world,” he said.

Araújo explained there are also a plethora of other insurance options out there to help travelers get out and explore while also providing any needed support such as covering a COVID-19 test, or needing to cover a quarantine hotel or new flight home. (See more on that with T+L’s own in-depth guide to the complicated world of travel insurance in the midst of a pandemic.)

It’s OK to be excited again and to “get lost” in the moment.

“I always say that the best thing in Portugal is getting on a flight that arrives in any of the five airports, renting a car, and getting lost. That’s the best thing you can do in Portugal,” Araújo said. He’s speaking from experience, as he too spent the last year staying domestic, but getting “lost” around his home country. He discovered new spots and rediscovered old favorites like the Azores, Algarve, and Madeira, the autonomous island chain located just off the coast of northern Africa.

“This is the time to start,” Araújo said of the return to travel. “It’s time for a simple reason: Because you cannot be totally, completely yourself if you don’t travel and if you don’t meet other people.”

Stacey Leasca is a journalist, photographer, and media professor who can’t wait to get back to Europe this summer. Send tips and follow her on Instagram now.

Travelling to Europe in Summer 2021 Amid COVID-19

Whether you enjoy beautiful coasts like Greece’s Caldera, Italy’s Amalfi, Spain’s Ibiza and Majorca, or cultural and classic destinations such as Louvre Museum in France and Brandenburg Gate in Germany, Europe is a diverse destination that one must visit.

Just like other parts of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the European countries hard and forced them to close all of their external borders in order to protect public health by halting the further spread of the Coronavirus within the countries, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

On March 17, 2020, the European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen, together with the President of EU Council Charles Michael, announced that the EU bodies had decided to close the EU’s external borders for non-essential travel to the EU for 30 days, but this lasted until June 30, 2020.

However, as the epidemiological situation inside and outside European countries started to improve, Member States decided to abolish such measures and gradually began to lift the restrictions for EU travellers and several third countries that have been registering low infection rates.

Such lifting of restrictions was further supported by the introduction of the EU Digital COVID-19 Passport, which started being effective on July 1, after the EU Commission considered it to be an efficient way of monitoring the movement of travellers within the EU and Schengen Area countries.

EU Nationals Travelling Throughout the Block

Except for the restrictions imposed against arrivals from outside the 27-nation bloc, the new strains of the virus pushed several EU/Schengen Area countries to close their internal borders and enforce strict restrictions for any arrivals from a Coronavirus high-risk country.

However, since the pandemic situation started to improve, EU citizens were permitted to travel within the block without being subject to strict rules.

Several EU countries have been imposing restrictions on and off, but in general, restriction-free entry is allowed to all EU citizens travelling within the block. Still, it should be kept in mind that to be able to travel freely within the block, one should hold an EU Digital COVID-19 Passport.

As such all holders of the document can travel to other Member/Schengen Associated countries for non-essential purposes without having to undergo stringent restrictions, like additional testing and quarantine requirements.

The EU Digital COVID-19 Passport has been established by the EU Commission and is digital proof that a person has either:

  • Been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 disease
  • Received a negative COVID-19 test result
  • Recovered from the disease

“National authorities are in charge of issuing the certificate. It could, for example, be issued by test centres or health authorities, or directly via an eHealth portal. Information on how to get the certificate should be provided by the national health authorities,” the Commission noted.

In addition, the main features of the certificate are as follows:

  • Can be issued in digital or paper format
  • Includes a unique QR code
  • A free-of-charge document provided by each country’s authorities
  • Issued in national language and English
  • Recognised in all EU countries

Which COVID-19 Vaccines Are Recognised In the EU

Following the European Medicines Agency (EMA) guidelines, until now, the EU Commission has only authorised four different vaccines – BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson – meaning that only persons immunised with one of these vaccines can travel within the EU restriction-free.

Nonetheless, despite the EU’s announcement, 15 European have decided to recognise the AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India as a valid proof of immunity, the chief scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO) Soumya Swaminathan said.

If planning to travel within the block during summer 2021, a new tool developed by VisaGuide.World helps you to check whether the country you plan to visit recognises the vaccines you have been immunised with.

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COVID-19 Situation & Vaccination Rate in EU

Generally, the COVID-19 situation in the EU is stable as most of the countries continue their vaccination campaigns.

According to the latest figures provided by vaccine producers and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), around 500 million vaccine doses have been delivered to the European countries.

Consequently, more than 404.4 million doses have been administered in the EU, suggesting that 66.3 per cent of the adult EU population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. On the other hand, approximately 49.1 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

It should be noted that the Coronavirus situation and the vaccination rate are different in each country in the EU. Thus, it is highly suggested that you check each country’s COVID-19 situation and measures before planning a trip.

As for the negative COVID-19 test result certificates, in general, European countries recognise such a document provided that a PCR test result has been taken within 72 hours of arrival or a rapid antigen test result that is not older than 48 hours at the time of entry.

“The EU Digital COVID Certificate should facilitate free movement inside the EU. It will not be a pre-condition to free movement, which is a fundamental right in the EU,” the Commission noted, indicating that even those who have not been immunised yet can travel freely within the EU.

EU Commission Advises Member States to Open Borders to Residents of 23 Third Countries

In May 2021, the EU Commission recommended Member States ease the restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU countries, after considering the improvements in the epidemiological situation and vacation campaigns.

“In June 2020, the Council adopted a recommendation on temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU and the possible lifting of such restrictions. The recommendation was last updated on May 20, 2021, to respond to the ongoing vaccination campaigns by introducing certain waivers for vaccinated persons and easing the criteria for lifting restrictions for third countries,” the Commission’s statement reads.

The proposal of the Commission indicated that all persons from countries with a stable epidemiological situation as well as all persons who have received the recommended vaccine doses should be permitted entry to the EU.

The Commission has been continuously updating the list of epidemiologically safe non-EU countries that should be permitted entry into the 27-nation bloc for non-essential purposes, and according to the latest update made on July 15, the list includes the following third countries:

  1. Albania
  2. Armenia
  3. Australia
  4. Azerbaijan
  5. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  6. Brunei Darussalam
  7. Canada
  8. China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity
  9. Israel
  10. Japan
  11. Jordan
  12. Lebanon
  13. Montenegro
  14. New Zealand
  15. Qatar
  16. Republic of Moldova
  17. Republic of North Macedonia
  18. Saudi Arabia
  19. Serbia
  20. Singapore
  21. South Korea
  22. Ukraine
  23. United States of America

All of the above-mentioned countries have registered less than 75 COVID-19 infection cases per 100,000 inhabitants during the last 14 days, placing them on the list of safe third countries.

“Following a review under the recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU, the Council updated the list of countries, special administrative regions and other entities and territorial authorities for which travel restrictions should be lifted. In particular, Rwanda and Thailand were removed from the list and Ukraine was added to the list,” the statement of the Council reads.

Still, the recommendation of the Commission does not restrict the EU Member States and Schengen Associated countries from imposing requirements related to the Coronavirus and testing and self-isolation measures. This means that each EU country can decide on its own restrictions, provided that they inform the other Member States and the Commission about their decisions.

Which Third Country Nationals Are Permitted Entry to Finland & Estonia?

Even though the Commission has made a call to all EU/Schengen Area countries to allow entry for all persons entering from the list of epidemiologically safe non-EU countries, Finland continues to keep more strict rules.

Only citizens of the following third countries can enter Finland restriction-free:

  • Romania
  • San Marino
  • Vatican City
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Kosovo
  • Moldova
  • Serbia

Similarly, Estonia does not allow entry to all 23 third countries placed on the EU’s safe list. Currently, only nationals of the following third countries can enter Estonia without restrictions:

Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Ukraine, and the United States.

Travel Insurance – A Must When Travelling Within the EU

It is highly suggested that everyone who plans to travel within the block this summer purchases extended travel insurance that covers pandemic and epidemic situations to make sure that in case their trip gets cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation, a considerable amount of their spending can be saved.

Before purchasing travel insurance for European/Schengen Area countries, it is advised that everyone checks if it includes low deductibles for expenses and medical benefits.

Travel insurance protection can be purchased at a very reasonable price from AXA Assistance or Europ Assistance.

European travel in summer 2021: What you should know

The US is no longer a COVID-19 “safe” country, according to the EU. Here’s how that’ll affect your travel plans.

Jessica is a writer on the Wellness team with a focus on health news. Before CNET, she worked in local journalism covering public health issues, business and music.

gettyimages-1256316318

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

The European Union removed the US from its list of “safe countries”on Monday, recommending that member states reinstate nonessential travel restrictions for Americans. The move comes as the US grapples with a surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations caused by the delta variant .

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Member states of the EU can still decide to allow vaccinated Americans to visit, according to the European Council. An EU source told the Washington Post that it’s “widely expected that fully vaccinated Americans would still maintain unfettered access” to countries in the EU.

So you were planning a last-minute trip to Europe this summer. Does America’s “unsafe” status change your plans? Here’s what we know about European travel right now.

Can I still travel if I’m vaccinated?

The EU is made up of 27 countries, and each individual country sets its own requirements for travel. Given the newness of the EU’s recommendation, it’s a little up in the air, but it’s expected countries will continue to allow Americans who can prove they’re fully vaccinated. Being fully vaccinated means two weeks have passed since you received your second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or since you got your single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The EU’s recommendation isn’t legally binding, which likely means not a lot will change if you’re fully vaccinated, and more details are on the way. The Austrian embassy, for example, issued a note Monday that “until implementation” of the Council’s recommendation, entry restrictions will “remain lifted for travelers from the United States or other countries with with low epidemiological risk.”

Not all European countries are part of the EU. Americans are also currently allowed to travel to the UK, for example, which formally split from the EU last year. Within the UK, the specific travel rules for Americans traveling to England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland will vary slightly.

To view COVID-19 travel information for any country you’re considering visiting, and to see what the rules are for traveling Americans, see this page from the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Can I go to Europe if I’m not vaccinated?

The EU’s recommendation is most likely to affect your travel plans if you’re not vaccinated, as member states might choose to impose stricter testing or quarantine rules, or restrict nonessential travel all together.

People who aren’t vaccinated may currently travel to some countries in Europe, as long as they provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test and adhere to the country’s quarantine and COVID-19 regulations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against international travel until you’re fully vaccinated.

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If you’re fully vaccinated and decide to travel this summer, you must continue to follow COVID-19 testing regulations, mask rules and other health guidelines put in place by your destination.

Martin Dm/Getty Images

What about cruises?

If you want to cruise through Europe, you can take the Norwegian Cruise Line if you’re fully vaccinated and submit to a COVID-19 test and health screening before you board. According to the company’s website, the current regulations will be in place for cruises that sail through Dec. 31, 2021.

Other cruise lines are gearing up by setting COVID-19 vaccine requirements for passengers. Celebrity Cruises, Azamara, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea, Victory Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Oceania and other cruise lines will require that passengers be fully vaccinated before boarding this summer.

Is it safe to travel right now?

The emergence of the delta variant has made everything less safe, but if you’re fully vaccinated, you’re less likely to contract and spread COVID-19. If you’re traveling with children who can’t get vaccinated yet, however, the CDC recommends you also follow recommendations for people who are not fully vaccinated. It’s also important to consider who you’ll come home to after you’re done traveling, and if you live with a person at higher risk for severe COVID-19, it might affect your decision to travel or to make plans to quarantine once you get home. The delta variant has caused more breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people and, while mild in most cases, the coronavirus can be passed on to others.

According to the CDC, all air passengers returning to the US from another country must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before returning, and then test once more three to five days after returning home. Before traveling , you should consider the current prevalence of COVID-19 in your chosen country.

How will I prove I’m vaccinated?

As of now, the only way for an American to prove vaccination to an airline or anyone asking is to display the card you received after getting your COVID-19 vaccine, which carries the CDC logo and all appropriate information. You also may’ve been emailed or texted your proof of vaccination, or have it on an app.

The EU’s Digital COVID Certificate was operational in all EU member states on July 1, but it’s only for EU citizens and residents. The EU’s certificate provides digital or paper proof via QR code that a person has either recovered from COVID-19, is vaccinated against it or has recently received a negative test.

COVID-19 “passports” in the US are an evolving concept, and proof of vaccination is becoming the norm in many cities in the US for indoor dining and other activities. We’ll keep you updated on the future of COVID-19 passports and how they apply to European travel.

Source https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/travel-to-europe-what-to-expect-summer-2021

Source https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/travelling-to-europe-in-summer-2021-amid-covid-19/

Source https://www.cnet.com/health/european-travel-in-summer-2021-what-you-should-know/

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