Europe travel in summer 2021: What you should know
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As Americans continue to get their COVID-19 shots and the guidance for fully vaccinated people changes accordingly, some may be itching to travel after more than a year spent at home. On May 19, travel to Europe was put on the table when the European Union voted to ease COVID-19 restrictions for travelers from “COVID-19-safe” countries, as well as vaccinated foreigners from not-so-safe nations.
On June 16, EU ambassadors agreed to add the US to the safe list for nonessential travel, and the move is expected to go into effect Friday, The New York Times reported. This means all Americans, vaccinated or not, will be able to travel to any of the 27 EU member countries for any reason. Individual countries within the EU, however, may have their own rules and might, for example, still require a negative COVID test or period of quarantine.
It’s important to note that traveling internationally carries a risk, even if you’re fully vaccinated, and the highly contagious Delta variant is spreading rapidly in the United Kingdom. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against all travel until you’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.
For those looking forward to Europe, we made a list of a few questions you’ll want answered before crossing the Atlantic.
This story has been updated with new information.
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Where can I travel in Europe if I’m vaccinated?
The European Union is made up of 27 countries, and all of them will open borders to Americans once the new criteria is formally accepted by the countries. Each individual country in the EU will set its own requirements for travel. Italy accepts American travelers who arrive on a COVID-tested flight or agree to quarantine, while Ireland and Greece accept travelers with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Spain opened to vaccinated tourists on June 7, and France opened to vaccinated travelers on June 9.
Americans are also currently allowed to travel to the UK, which formally split from the European Union last year, though leisure travel is still discouraged and will require testing and quarantine, regardless of vaccination status.
More countries in Europe plan to reopen throughout the summer. To see if the country you’re interested in visiting is currently accepting vaccinated tourists from the US, use this page from the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Can I go to Europe if I’m not vaccinated?
If the EU’s decision to lift the ban on nonessential travel for American tourists is lifted Friday (it’s expected to be), vaccination status won’t be a factor when traveling to one of the EU’s 27 countries. 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.
What about cruises?
If you want to cruise through Europe, you can take the Norwegian Cruise Line if you’re fully vaccinated and are OK with the cruise line testing you for COVID-19 before boarding. According to the company’s website, the COVID-19 test will be free to guests, and the cruise line may require additional tests throughout the journey. The current regulations will be in place for cruises that sail up to Oct. 31, 2021, or until no longer necessary.
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?
If you’re vaccinated, yes, for the most part. You should weigh your personal risks and consider who in your household may be most affected. Those who are immunocompromised aren’t as protected when vaccinated, for example, and no vaccine is 100% effective. Additionally, children under age 12 can’t get vaccinated yet.
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.
The EU’s Digital COVID Certificate will be operational in all EU Member States by July 1, and is already operating in seven countries as of June 1, The New York Times reported. The EU’s certificate provides digital or paper proof via QR code that a person has either recovered from COVID-19, is vaccinated against COVID-19 or has recently received a negative COVID-19 test. Though the free certificate applies only to EU citizens, it may become available to citizens outside the EU in the future, the Times reported.
COVID-19 “passports” are an evolving concept but will likely be necessary for European travel this summer, probably in app form. Check out this guide to COVID-19 passports to learn more about their future.
COVID-19 vaccine passports explained
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.