One year ago, global travel was severely disrupted due to the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, the subsequent declaration of a global pandemic, and the gradual implementation of international travel restrictions by nearly every country.
Throughout the Summer of 2020, Europe began to lift some travel restrictions, only to reimpose them when the second wave of COVID hit in August. By the end of the summer, while many organizations were eager to, it seemed many were instead setting their sights on a brighter travel outlook for 2021.
However, Spring of 2021 proved to be a turning point for most of Europe. In April, the Greek Minister of Tourism declared that vaccinated travelers from the United States and certain other countries would be welcomed into the country by 14 May. At the time of the announcement, many remained skeptical, but the timeline was then moved to the end of April and U.S. travelers have indeed been able to visit Greece for the past month. On 16 May, Italy – which had already been allowing vaccinated travelers from multiple countries – opened its border to U.S. travelers who arrived on Delta Covid-tested flights. On 19 May, the European Commission announced that travel restrictions would be eased for vaccinated travelers from a list of approved countries. Representatives have yet to announce which countries will be included in this list, and each member state has the right to maintain its own travel restrictions.
While most countries (such as France and Spain) who have already announced entry dates will most likely carry on with their proposed reopening, other countries seem to be more reluctant (such as Germany, Finland, The Netherlands and Sweden). The United Kingdom is currently running a “traffic light” system based on green, amber, and red-light countries. Most countries are currently in “amber-light” status (U.S. included), requiring a 10-day quarantine and there are no current plans to change the status of these countries. Regardless, it seems that more European countries will gradually allow vaccinated international travelers over the course of the summer.
As popular European travel destinations open this summer, travelers should take note that outdoor historical sites, parks, and beaches have been the first destinations to reopen, and are expected to be the primary attractions promoted by host nations. While some restaurants, pubs, and shops are opening throughout various countries, they are mostly operating in a restricted capacity. Most shops are only allowed a set number of customers at a time, and most restaurants and pubs will still be serving outdoors exclusively. While restrictions may ease throughout the summer, they will continue to vary country by country.
As previously mentioned, no formal timeline has been proposed for the further reopening of European Union countries. While vaccinated travelers are currently allowed into some countries, the concept of a vaccination passport is expected to materialize at some point this summer. The European Commission has reportedly been discussing the logistics of a vaccination certificate with the U.S. since April. No evidence has surfaced regarding what this may look like for U.S. citizens, but multiple European nations have already developed a vaccine passport for local use. With this in mind, it seems likely that vaccination passports will be a part of European travel in the near future.
While the COVID-19 situation remains fluid, several European countries have proven their ability to reopen their doors to travelers if proper measures are taken. Europe is eager to end travel restrictions and the trends moving into the summer of 2021 indicate that it is a real possibility. Those considering travel to Europe this summer would benefit from an expert perspective on the current travel risk landscape—and On Call’s Travel Restart Program can help. Whether you’re looking for a standard solution to apply to specific locations of interest, or a customized option that includes location monitoring and regular updates, On Call can help you create and implement a Travel Restart strategy that is aligned with your organization’s unique needs. Contact us today to learn more.
For over 25 years, On Call International has provided fully-customized travel risk management and global assistance services protecting millions of travelers, their families, and their organizations. Contact us today and watch our video to learn more. You can also stay in touch with On Call’s in-house risk management, travel health and security experts by signing up for our quarterly Travel Risk Management (TRM) newsletter.
*The information provided within this post has been compiled from a multitude of available sources, and is based on the current news and situational analysis at the time of writing.