European Union Expected To Recommend Restrictions On Many American Travelers On Monday

The European Union has begun the process to re-impose restrictions (quarantine, testing) for unvaccinated Americans. The U.S. will be removed from a list of countries whose citizens are allowed to travel freely in Europe without Covid restrictions.

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.

And as I wrote when this was first under consideration several weeks ago a key consideration for whether and when countries re-impose restrictions is the extent to which their economies rely on tourism. It’s no coincidence that Greece, France, and Spain were among the first Schengen countries to announce they’d welcome Americans before Europe had taken broader action.

Along with the U.S. it’s expected that Kosovo, Israel, Montenegro, Lebanon and North Macedonia will be removed from Europe’s ‘safe list’. This decision is expected to become final on Monday, subject to objection by European member states.

The decision to remove the U.S. from the safe travel countries list is as much about infection levels as about the U.S. refusal to allow travelers from Europe. Vaccinated Germans who test negative for Covid-19 aren’t permitted to fly to the U.S., while unvaccinated Russians and Indonesians can do so. Unvaccinated Americans can enter the country via Mexico without a negative test as well.

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 am hopeful that vaccinated Americans will continue to be able to travel to most of Europe, but rules will continue to vary.

(HT: @crucker

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. For an administration that says it will follow the science, the lack of reciprocity with Europe is completely unacceptable.

  2. I don’t think the restrictions apply to “Americans”, and the use of that term in the article can be confusing.

    The EU restrictions are generally not based on citizenship – but on where the traveler has been. So an Australian who has spent a week in the US would be subject to the same rules flying to Europe as a U.S. citizen or anyone else coming from the US – regardless of citizenship.

    There are various exceptions for EU citizens returning to their home countries – which generally involve allowing them into the home country but requiring quarantine.

    As a practical matter, as vaccination rates tend to correspond to income, Americans travelling to Europe are likely vaccinated at a higher rate than Americans in general, so would be able to get in under the new rules as they are likely to be vaccinated.

  3. So I guess my question is how does this impact vaccinated folks; like myself ‘ as I have a trip to Italy in Sept so will for example Italy still be open to travel to or no…some articles ive read (like yours) say unvaccinated and don’t mentioned anything about vaccinated others just say outright ban

  4. Hey Steve, you’ve made my day! If you haven’t figured out by now how to sort the true from the false on the internet, I really can’t help you. Why read Gary if you don’t trust him? Do you know his track record?

    But this sort of thing isn’t hard. Here, let my try. Um, look at this from Reuters this morning, for example: “The European Union on Friday moved to reinstate COVID travel restrictions like quarantine and testing requirements for unvaccinated citizens of the United States and five other countries ….”

    We’ll see what each individual country decides to do.

  5. Not sure why any country would want to accept unvaccinated travelers….I’m guessing the conspiracy backed misinformationists will have a problem with that but it has to be the height of arrogance thinking you should go to a foreign country unvaccinated if they don’t want you too. Can’t blame them for protecting themselves or what is typically stereotyped as “The Ugly American ” (I know I know, that’s a 1950’s term)

  6. @Tom – no need to be snarky but I do agree anyone can google entrance requirements of a country and find out. Also for anyone traveling, just because they accept vaccinated travelers you need to really understand the SPECIFIC entrance requirements of that country. Some (like Iceland) require a negative test along with being vaccinated. Some (like France) require a digital app or digital record of vaccination. Anyone traveling internationally has to be VERY careful to follow the country’s requirements exactly or you could find yourself in quarantine or on the next plane back to the US.

    Also, while I think the US entry restrictions on EU countries are crazy (why let in people from places with higher infection rates and won’t even let in vaccinated EU travelers), I also don’t understand why the EU (or individual countries) are letting in unvaccinated travelers at all. Seems just make entry dependent on vaccination (like Canada) and that would fix a lot of problems. BTW, I am also in favor of the US implementing a domestic travel requirement to be vaccinated (or maybe present a negative test within 72 hours).

  7. Don’t accept the unvaccinated at all in international travel, at least not without both a medical certificate of a condition that makes it impossible to be vaccinated and a negative test (or, temporarily, just a negative test for children under 12) . It is time to put a stop to coddling the unvaccinated and letting them spread the disease.

  8. The anti vax will eventually have a choice of staying in their trailer parks or driving their pickups to Florida for vacation….

  9. While the rules may be in place they may not be enforced. I went to Europe last week. The rules stated I needed a negative COVID test. I had one. The airline didn’t check my test (but did check my vaccine card). Passport control in Europe didn’t check my negative test but did ask if I was vaccinated although he didn’t look at my card. The Passport officer at my final destination didn’t check anything either. The hotel sent me an email saying I had to present a negative test on arrival. On arrival they didn’t check anything (not my negative test nor my vaccine card). Four chances – no one checked my “required” negative test.

    As for my return home, US requires a negative COVID test 3 days prior. No one checked it. The airline did make me sign an affidavit saying I got tested and it was negative, but they did not check the test results. Passport control on re-entry and customs didn’t ask a thing re COVID.

    Anyway, point is – all these gov’t “rules” but I’ll bet my experience is not uncommon. So I’d bet as long as your vaccinated, the negative test thing isn’t as big a deal (of course, why chance it – may as well get tested). But I wouldn’t sweat these pending new rules.

  10. @Shane – Almost similar experience this month involving UK, EU, and another non EU country on various parts of one trip *except* found a couple of separate airline checkin agents took more strict interpretations of cross border requirements, and nearly denied checkin twice (two distinct airports and scenarios in play). And that was as a vaccinated traveler.

    Also hope EU will be more transparent about accepting the US CDC card. Haven’t run into a problem with it, but it’s not truly a ‘certificate’ with validation as the EU and some countries language states. Haven’t run into a problem with that, but you’d like it to be crystal clear so you don’t run into edge cases.

  11. Hey @Dave, hate to break it to you, but the vaccinated can spread this stuff as well as the unvaccinated. It’s called “science”. You’ll have to find another way to feel superior to those who choose not to get vaccinated.

  12. Al, just as non smokers can get lung cancer just as smokers can??? . So why the many mikebans on smoking?

  13. @Al,

    Hate to break it to you, but the pandemic is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated! The vast majority of the hospitalized are unvaccinated! The unvaccinated are the breeding grounds for the next variant! That IS science!

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