Update: The E.U. is indeed recommending only essential travel from the U.S., with individual nations free to decide whether to follow this guidance in full, to continue to allow vaccinated U.S. travelers, or to ignore it completely (though the latter seems unlikely since the policy was promulgated without objection by any member state).
We may see greater dispersion and uncertainty in travel rules for a period of time. It’s that uncertainty which make s planning trips so difficult, and which continues to weigh heavily on travel-reliant businesses.
The U.S. is being removed from the ‘safe list’ of countries for travel to Europe, along with Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia. This could involve a ban on non-essential travel and even for those fully vaccinated. We’ll learn the exact terms shortly.
- We’ll learn soon whether the E.U. decision revokes travel freedom only for those who are unvaccinated, or for everyone.
- The E.U. list is advisory, with individual nations setting their own rules. For instance Greece decided to open up months before the E.U. agreed to open borders to Americans. France and Spain had already announced their intention to do so, as well.
- Most countries in Schengen Europe are likely to generally follow this guidance.
I’d point out two things in the background here,
- Peak tourism season is ending. So eliminating U.S. tourism now, as opposed to when the virus began taking off again here in early July, is much lower cost to European economics.
- The U.S. still refuses to allow those who have been in European within the past 14 days to visit – even if they are vaccinated and test negative – even as it welcomes people from Mexico, Russia, and Indonesia.
The U.S. won’t let in Europeans, so as it becomes lower cost to exclude Americans in the midst of high levels of virus transmission, it shouldn’t be any surprise that the European Union is making a move to do so. Ironically the move is being made as the rate of growth in U.S. cases has slowed, possibly indicating a peak, in other words they’re very late in doing this if it the move was being made primarily on scientific grounds. Expect many nations to follow this guidance, but along a schedule that works best for their local conditions.
On Friday I wrote that the EU was expected to recommend restrictions on many American travelers. Several readers pushed back and insisted that the title should have clearly reflected that this would apply to vaccinated travelers only. While I included that expected in the post, that was still speculative.
What we have is a return to ‘regime uncertainty’ which I’ve written about for a year as a key driver of difficulty in booking trips.
- A destination may be open when you buy tickets, but will it still be open when it comes time to travel?
- What about changes to rules for entering any connecting city, in the event of a misconnection?
- And rules for returning to your home country, such as testing or vaccination requirements? (And which tests and vaccines count, taken how recently?)
I’m glad that I booked my next Europe trip with miles for air even though rates were low, because the trip is fully cancellable.