Europe May Ban Visitors Until September; Australia Through End Of The Year

Over the weekend I explained why it will take some time before international travel comes back in more than a limited way. Countries won’t open their borders all at once, and may impose quarantines or restrictions on entry with greater health checks initially when they do. More onerous procedures will mean less travel overall and fewer flights.

Already we’re getting some window into what this might look like. Australia, for instance, may not even loosen travel restrictions between its domestic states for some time and ban most international travel through the end of the year.

The federal government has banned Australians from flying overseas in most circumstances and ordered anybody coming into the country to go into quarantine for 14 days, usually at hotels supervised by the Australian Defence Force.

…With no certainty about containing the virus, the federal message is for Australians to plan for limited holidays within their own state if and when current restrictions are eased. Only later would travel between states become possible.

Asked whether the international bans would stay for this calendar year or beyond, Senator Birmingham said: “It’s very difficult to predict and nobody should be getting ahead of themselves at the present.”

Travel restrictions may remain in place for visiting Europe, as well. France’s President is talking about closure of borders of the 26 Schengen Area countries until September. No decision has been made yet, but this timeline is what’s under consideration.

During a videoconference last Friday with trade unions, Macron said the idea is being considered by Schengen members, according to French media reports. The reason he gave was the fact that the pandemic is evolving at a different pace around the world, and “did not affect all countries at the same time” BFMTV reported.

So the implication is that Europe needs to protect itself from the threat posed by travelers coming from high-risk countries. According to the TV station, “Emmanuel Macron notably cited the example of the United States, where the coronavirus crisis is delayed by several weeks and which will therefore reach its peak later. But also that of Africa, where the situation is developing differently. In Asia, a second peak may occur.”

Once things do open up, expect procedures to be more cumbersome than they have been in the past with more visas and more health checks and fewer travel options for some time.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. US Airlines still won’t give refunds for this type of restriction unless flights are cancelled?

  2. There is no way that Europe will do this. Schengen was already increasingly in jeopardy, especially after the EU resisted early efforts by Schengen members to ban travel in the light of the Wuhan virus. There is no way that several European economies could afford to not have ANY visitors through September. Austria is already opening up. We’ll soon find out whether Sweden’s approach worked. If it did then Sweden could be open for tourists by Memorial Day. Iceland, which isn’t part of the EU but is in Schengen, is also doing well. I expect Iceland to be open by Memorial Day. Ireland depends on tourism from Americans and Canadians.

  3. @FNT I mostly agree with what you’ve written, but am not completely certain that controls won’t last longer. In the end, money talks and travel will only return to normal-whatever that ends up being- when our “leaders” realize that tourism revenue exceeds that of the “value” offered by the plandemic.

  4. Given the rate that new COVID-19 cases are now falling in Western Europe, I would think August travel is probable (but not certain) at this point. July is a reasonable possibility. That said, anyone making any non-refundable int’l travel plans at this point is a fool. There will be plenty of good deals in the future.

  5. I think it is much, much more likely that the Schengen Zone as a border-free travel zone becomes no more for the time being. Certain countries without Schengen will exempt some but not all countries from visiting. Greece, for example, has done a pretty remarkably job, given Italy being right next to them and also given their horrible economy and horrible state of public services for a decade now.

  6. @FNT Delta Diamond, I was wondering the exact same thing (RE: Schengen Zone). I can’t imagine them not putting up traditional land borders again after this Covid-19 pandemic is over. They can certainly continue to allow free trade and all the other “perks” that come with being a member. But they’ll need to bring back traditional land border crossings again to conduct stringent health checks on foreign visitors coming in via car, bus or train. They’d be silly not to!

  7. I definitely hope they will extend the ban for non essential travel at least from the US. You guys have messed up quite a lot and it will endanger any progress we made in Europe during the last weeks if we let US-Americans in again.
    (And I’m pretty sure just as you can live without European visitors we can live without US-visitors as well)

  8. At some point we just need to open things up, I’m optimistic this will happen by June. If schools are open then everything else should be open as well like sports, music concerts etc as well. The elderly and at-risk can continue shelter in place, the rest of us have lives to live.

  9. What is needed is a highly reliable antibody test AND a document akin to the Yellow Fever Card that shows immunity to the virus.

    (Yes, there are reports about some re-infection cases in Korea, but the jury is still out about whether these are truly re-infections, or if the person still has an active virus from the first time around and the antibody test was faulty).

  10. What data are you using to support statements like, “You guys have messed up quite a lot and it will endanger any progress we made in Europe during the last weeks if we let US-Americans in again”? I don’t believe that I can post links in my comment to protect against spam, but the numbers below are from multiple health organizations that are compiling data globally.

    The current projections I’ve seen show that the US hit its peak (in terms of hospital beds/resource use) on April 11. Italy’s resource peak was March 28, Spain’s resource peak was March 29, and France’s was April 3, but many other countries in Western Europe are further behind: UK’s projected resource peak is projected for April 14, Switzerland on May 1, Netherlands on May 2, Denmark on May 4, Sweden on May 7,

    Of the top 6 countries with the most total cases, it’s silly to just look at raw numbers. Looking at numbers per 1 million in population gives a much more accurate comparison. Current infection rates per 1 million in population: US – 1763, Spain – 3628, Italy – 2638, France – 2095, Germany – 1530, UK – 1305.

    Deaths per 1 million in population: US – 71, Spain – 377, Italy – 338, France – 229, Germany – 36, UK – 167.

    I have a trip planned to Switzerland (from the US) in late May/early June. I don’t think either the US or Switzerland will have lifted travel restrictions by then, but as I’m looking at rescheduling for later in the summer, I don’t see data supporting the fact that my visit will “endanger the progress made in Europe,” although I’m open to hearing about numbers that do support it.

  11. “The elderly and at-risk can continue shelter in place, the rest of us have lives to live.” Nick 4/13/20

    I’m fairly certain at-risk people have lives to live… maybe even more important than yours.

  12. @Tom

    I’m no mathematician but I have a few questions. Like you say raw numbers don’t tell the full story and numbers per 1M of population make more sense and I agree.

    Comparing the US to Spain and Italy at the current point in time when 1) Spain and Italy’s rate of testing is higher than the US and 2) reached peak about 2 weeks prior to the US kinda defeats the purpose right?

    How many more positive tests does the US have that aren’t confirmed because you’re not doing enough testing. Looking at Spain and Italy’s numbers today. Lets see what death rates the US has in 2 weeks time – that’s probably a more reasonable comparison.


  13. @ FNT , Europe is 27 countries and each country gets tourism and spending from the others . What the EU is talking about is restricting entry to tourists from high risk countries and if USA falls into that category , then Americans will not be able to travel to Europe

  14. Countries that did better on the Coronavirus outbreak didn’t invent a miracle cure for the disease that they didn’t share with other countries. In general, they had fewer cases and deaths because they screened more closely at the borders, ramped up testing and contact tracing, did massive public education (or had a culture that encouraged use of masks, social distancing, etc) and almost all (Sweden excepted) clamped down on hard on people’s movements once there was a spike in cases.

    So now that they are starting to lift restrictions internally, and open up schools and local businesses cautiously, the last thing that they are going to allow is a unscreened foreigner (eg, “tourist”) to come in and kick off another cycle of infection. I live in Singapore, where the economy is tremendously dependent on tourism, but I’ll guarantee after we exit lockdown in May/June, no one is coming in from Europe or USA or Indonesia without getting a test and going through a 14 day quarantine, until there’s a vaccine. Just not going to happen.

    I could see bilateral agreements between countries that have broad testing and low levels of infection- say, China – Hong Kong and China – Taiwan reopening. And potentially, you could also see bilateral agreements between countries that have had massive outbreaks, like USA – Italy – UK. But that is a lot less likely, as there weren’t enough cases to develop herd immunity, even if you assumed the infection rates were 10x or more higher due to low testing.

    Unrestricted international travel (aka “tourism” and ‘business travel”) isn’t going to happen until there’s a vaccine widely available- still 12 -18 months away. On the bright side, most of you live in a large, interesting country- now is the time to plan that NYC trip you’ve wanted to take- flight prices and hotels will be cheap.

  15. I think it’s highly likely that Australia will not accept foreign visitors until at least the end of the year. There’s every indication that Australian citizens won’t be allowed out until at least the end of September, possibly longer.
    Unless some harmless drug appears as a miracle cure, we’re really looking at a timeframe for universal vaccination ( if/when one proves effective/safe).
    There’s little pressure for the borders to reopen ( and certainly no political pressure, as the response to the crisis is managed by a National Cabinet, representing both major political parties).

  16. @Tom First of all, I could post some links of the NYT here about the testing disaster in your country and about the slow response of your administration, but I guess you will see that as partisan (and probably European press releases even more so)
    Fact is you’ve overtaken just recently the Netherlands in cases per capita, Germany in cases per capita and a while ago Germany in deaths per capita. I won’t mention Iran (which you also overtook looking at the official numbers), because I’m pretty sure they are just pulling their numbers just out of their bum. Your numbers of new infections are still raising, while these numbers in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Switzerland are falling. Germany, Austria and Switzerland have now more people that are recovered than that are actively infected.
    Your rate of testing in a lot of your states is abysmal which lets me assume, that there are lots and lots of undetected cases there and in New York the health system is overwhelmed in such a way, that we don’t know how many of the people dying at home did so because of Covid-19.
    Until the situation in the US doesn’t get significantly better, I would prefer that the EU countries place restrictions for entries from these high-risk countries.
    New York has now three times the deaths and three times the cases of Hubei while having only a third of the population

  17. Sven, Tom supports his position with hard data. You on the other hand appear to use the MSM methodology of opinion. You are certainly entitled to your own opinion but just not your own facts.
    BTW, there are many elderly citizens in the US, with underlying health conditions, that may not have lived as long in other countries as they have here. Consequently when respiratory diseases are in the general population they are very susceptible EVERY “flu” season. Regardless of what you may read or watch, the US has superior healthcare systems staffed by outstanding professionals in all their fields. Are you aware that it is a violation of Federal and most state laws for hospitals to deny you emergency care . . . regardless of your ability to pay?

  18. @One Trippe
    The system is so great that life expectancy in the US ranks about 40th in the world. Plus, the system is so efficient that many hundreds, possibly thousands, didn’t even make it to hospital…dead in their homes. But don’t let inconvenient facts get in the way of delusional/blinkered faith.

  19. @One Trippe: I don’t see any hard data in Tom’s comment. He just selectively quotes a few numbers that seem to support his case. The fact remains that your cases double every 11 days at the moment while the doubling time in Spain, Italy, France and Germany is 25 days.
    New York has just reached the number of annual accident deaths it would have according to their population and they have long surpassed the number of annual flu deaths and all that in just one month.
    I didn’t pull the facts that you overtook several European countries in cases per capita out of my ass, that’s a provable fact. Also the case and deaths numbers for New York are really nine times higher per capita then the Hubei numbers. You seriously messed up testing in the early stages you are now paying the price for that. Why is your per capita testing in Texas only on par with Turkey or Croatia? And if your healthcare system is so superior, then why are the numbers for deaths per capita so much better in countries like Germany, Austria, Norway or Denmark despite the fact that these countries had much earlier outbreaks?
    But I really have hope for the US as now Jared and Ivanka are in the task force for reopening your economy. They will definitely turn things around.

  20. @SG I appreciate your balanced response, and you make some good points. You’re correct that Italy and Spain’s numbers are already decreasing substantially (since they hit their peak about 2 weeks ago), so it’s too early to make a direct comparison, and it’s true that it’ll be another 2 weeks or so until a direct comparison will make sense. It’s too early to say whether the relative (“per million”) rates in the US are going to be higher or lower than Italy, Spain, France, or any other country, but the numbers certainly aren’t substantially higher at this point, which was the point that I challenged Sven on.

    @Sven, as for testing rates, the current relative (“per million”) testing rates are: US – 8876 tests per million, Spain – 12,833, Italy – 17,315, France – 5114, Germany – 15,730, UK – 5416. So it’s absolutely true that Spain, Italy, and Germany have issued more relative tests than the US, but many other European countries have issued fewer. In other words, the testing rate in the US is not “abysmal,” but rather it’s somewhere in the middle of the European rates. So rather than relying on NYT headlines (or any headlines – I simply mention NYT since that was the source you claimed), I don’t see the testing situation here being substantially more of a “disaster” in the US than every other country in Europe. I don’t think any country was truly ready to run tests on this type of scale – every country struggled with it, including the US. But the numbers simply don’t show the US being exponentially worse than everywhere else.

    The current projections of epidemiologists for deaths in the US are 68,841, which would be a relative death rate of 201 per 1 million in population. This puts the US ahead of many European countries (Spain – 380, Italy – 338, France – 229) and behind many other European countries (UK – 167, Netherlands – 165, Switzerland – 131). New York has a current death rate of 513 per 1 million, which is high, but if we start to single out one area of the US, we’d have to take an equivalent look at a hard-hit European area – I won’t even touch the numbers coming out of China at this point. The Lombardy region in northern Italy has a population of 10 million, which is similar to New York state’s population (although this really isn’t the right way to define New York’s numbers, because the densely populated NYC metro area spans over to New Jersey and Connecticut, with a total population of 23 million). Lombardy has had 10,901 deaths, while New York state has had 10,056 deaths. Of course, these numbers are all constantly changing – the projected deaths for New York state is 14,542, which is a somewhat higher rate than Lombardy if you just use the state population, but substantially lower than Lombardy if you use the NYC metro population.

    All in all, I’m absolutely not saying that the US has done a perfect job at handling this, or that the US has done a better job than Europe. My view is that some countries in Europe have done a better job than the US (as evidenced by the relative numbers), but it also appears that the US has done a better job than other countries in Europe, based on the current numbers. In other words, based on all the data I’ve seen up to this point, I’d put the US somewhere in the middle of a “ranking” of countries in Europe. Numbers are still changing – and if the relative numbers in the US go way off the charts in comparison to other countries, then it would become more fair to make sweeping statements about how the US has been more of a “disaster” or could “ruin” progress, etc. It may happen, but none of the current numbers support it, and none of the projections I’ve seen support it either.

  21. @Tom: Just saw your response after I replied to One Trippe.
    Yes, you are right that your per capita deaths will – most likely – never reach the numbers of Italy. You might not even reach the numbers of cases Italy has per capita. But as New York is a comparable hot-spot to the Lombardy (where the rate of new infections is significantly slowing down) and as we usually can’t determine from where in the US a visitor to the EU comes, I would prefer if the EU put rather strict quarantine measures on visitors from countries with a lot of cases.
    You have significantly ramped up testing (after you’ve lost quite some time in the beginning), but there are still US states that lag behind quite a lot.
    You really could have a much better position than any European country given your geographical advantage of being a continent of your own (together with the sparsely populated Canada) and having more reaction time.
    Anyway let’s hope we all can get through this relatively quickly. My hopes for normalization of international travel are not very high though for the next 12 months and even after a vaccine is available politicians should find ways to monitor the health status of incoming travellers as something like this might repeat at any time

  22. @Sven, please feel free to provide other numbers that support your claims. The numbers I’m quoting are not chosen “selectively” to support my points. The numbers I’m quoting are chosen in direct response to the claims you’re making using sensational terms. You claim that the US “have messed up a lot” and I gave case numbers per million in population. You claim a “testing disaster,” and I gave testing numbers per million in population, including fair comparisons of local hot spots.

    Please provide data to support people “dying in their homes.” A sensational statement like that isn’t an “inconvenient fact.” Looking at NYC emergency service response times (simply Google for “NYC 911 response times”), the response times have of course gone up from a typical average of 4-5 minutes up to about 12 minutes for life threatening medical emergencies. I haven’t heard of many COVID-19 patients dying within 12 minutes of severe symptoms. Have there been a handful of those cases? Sure – of course there are some extreme cases of patients (likely elderly and/or folks with serious underlying conditions) who had a sudden onset of symptoms and might have died before emergency responders could reach them. But again, the data I can find simply doesn’t support your sensational claims of “thousands” who didn’t even make it to the hospital. If you have data supporting that, then feel free to provide it.

    I’m not trying to claim anything about the US healthcare system being “so superior” – I’m simply showing that the US response has been right in line with global averages. Some countries currently have better rates (cases, deaths, and tests) per capita than the US, but some countries have worse rates.

  23. Did I say anything about people dying in their homes? If so please point it out, because I would hate myself for doing such a thing and not correcting it. I’m pretty sure there are some, but just as in New York there are equally some in Lombardy. And when you also keep in mind on the other hand that some people die with Covid-19 and not because of it you can regard all this more or less as statistical noise. We should trust the official numbers (or maybe JHU)
    As I said before you’re right that you will not reach the deaths per capita of Italy, but you will also come out significantly above Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Some US regions are hit very hard and you have to thank (in parts) your sparsely populated middle, that it looks statistically so good for you.
    All I said was that while your numbers are still on the rise, the growth rate even in the most affected European countries has fallen significantly thanks to the lockdowns and that it would be counterproductive to let in potentially infected persons from the outside at this moment.

  24. @Sven, my mistake – it was Paolo who talked about people dying in their homes. Apologies for attributing that quote to you.

  25. @Paolo – thanks for sharing the link. I wasn’t aware of those reports, and it’s certainly tragic. It sounds like there are more at home deaths than I was aware of in NYC.

    While reading that article, Reuters actually showed a related article on the exact same topic in Italy:

    I think that both articles support what I’ve been saying – the US is not necessarily superior at handling the situation, but the US certainly has not appeared to be worse than all/most of Europe at this point.

  26. The flaw in the US is that we haven’t done a national lockdown. Allowing states to decide when/if they go into isolation will draw out the duration of infection between states.

    At 4 months into this virus, it’s pathetic that only 1% of the US population has been tested.

    With those 2 factors in mind, I wouldn’t let Americans in, if I was another country.

  27. @MJ-SEA, I don’t disagree that more testing is critical to maintaining control over the situation, but here are the current testing stats (percent of population):

    US: 0.9%
    Spain: 1.2%
    Italy: 1.7%
    France: 0.5%
    Germany: 1.5%
    UK: 0.6%
    Netherlands: 0.8%
    Canada: 1.2%
    Switzerland: 2.3%
    Sweden: 0.7%

    If the US is pathetic, several countries in Europe are also pathetic or slightly above pathetic.

  28. @Tom: I fully agree that every country should test more and that the European countries also don’t test enough (I guess though that regarding facilities and necessary chemicals we’re now somewhat at a limit), but your numbers imply a smaller difference than it really is. To get at the level of testing of Italy the US would need to do 2.6 million more tests, which would need at the current level of 150K tests per day an additional 17.6 days to achieve (notwithstanding the fact that during these 17 days Italy would continue with more tests per capita). At your current doubling time of the infections of 14 days, 17.6 days are quite a long time.

  29. When US banned all EU citizens from entering US when the virus started spreading from Italy, why cant EU just ban visitors from US for now until they recover. It was completely US fault to let this pandemic hit them hard despite all the warnings. When China, on the other hand, has opened everything, why cant EU do the same than waiting for US to recover & rest of the world.

    WHAT IF after September the virus still persists? !! They will shut down the world for another 6 months then years? I am not a pro but temporarily they can impose rules like public or tourists wearing masks & gloves when they are exposed in public & maintain distance, medical checks up at borders but let the tourism industry slowly open up. The important thing to do is to interrupt the spreading of viruses by cutting down the contact esp when sneezing, coughing, etc which could be somewhat achieved by wearing masks. Wearing a mask doesn’t guarantee you a virus-free air to breathe but it is to stop yourself from spreading the virus to others and when everyone wears it there will be no transmission of the virus to move from one person to another.

    I hope they don’t shut down the entire EU until September because it looks like “burning the house for the fear of mosquitoes”, because of these closures will kill people faster than the virus due to the recession that’s gonna hit soon.

  30. @Gary (and anyone else with information) —> Question follows below.

    1. As reported in Miles to Memories, Marca reports that the Spanish government is working on a total resumption of activity and employment in two phases. The first phase would be for the productive sectors which will resume in the summer. The second phase can extend until Christmas. The latter phase includes the most affected sectors, such as tourism, culture, catering and air and sea transport.” See
    2. In turn, Marca writes, “The Spanish government are already beginning to prepare a plan for the future as the country looks to gradually return to normal, once the coronavirus pandemic passes.The government are working on a total resumption of activity and employment in two phases. The first one would be for the productive sectors and work, which would be from this summer; and the second one, from the end of the year. The Minister of Labour, Yolanda Diaz, explained that measures for the country’s reactivation are being considered in two periods and warned that the most affected sectors, such as tourism and leisure, will be extended until the end of 2020. “One that will cover the productive sectors until the summer and another that will extend until the end of the year and that would affect sectors such as tourism, culture or leisure,” she said.The return to normalcy – i.e. our lives before the pandemic – is not expected until Christmas. Sectors such as tourism, culture, catering and air and sea transport “are going to have enormous difficulties,” the Minister admitted. See:

    Question: We had planned a trip to Spain and Greece for September to celebrate a friend’s birthday, which has now been called off for the obvious reasons of the coronavirus. We have received full refunds and/or full reinstatement of points from every airline and hotel reservation made — without fees or penalties — from everyone (Alaska, Emirates, Marriott, etc.) EXCEPT for the Spanish airline, Iberia.

    As near as I can make out, Iberia has made no changes to their policies whatsoever with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic. I understand I am protected by some EU regulations if my flights are cancelled, but Iberia’s position is that “We haven’t cancelled that flight yet.” So…are we on the hook?

  31. Instead of comparing countries that have done poorly I think we should emulate countries have done well.

    If you wish do comparisons in regard to infection rate, testing and mortality rate, I would suggest Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and New Zealand

    This would be a better use of our time and energy. It is well known that the response in many European countries has been on par with or worse than the response in America,
    Germany has been the notable exception.

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