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If all EU countries agree to the proposed measures, nonessential travel (as in, travel for pleasure, not just for business) could begin as early as June 1.
- For Americans desperate to eat tapas in Madrid and tan on beaches in Croatia, summer can’t come soon enough.
- That’s because, according to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, the European Union is on the verge of opening its borders for “nonessential travel.”
- Since the COVID-19 pandemic kicked off in March 2020, Europe has largely been closed to tourists, including from the United States.
- But with the vaccination rollout in the US going well and millions of Americans now fully vaccinated, the EU is ready to open its doors to American tourists – and their money.
Are tourists allowed to go to Europe now?
- Not yet. In April, when von der Leyen first indicated that the EU was looking at reopening, no specific dates were given. “Summer” was about as specific as she got.
- More concrete steps were taken on May 19, with ambassadors from all 27 EU countries agreeing on measures for reopening Europe’s borders to foreign travelers.
- The exact date for the reopening still hasn’t been set. EU countries still have to formally vote on those measures.
- For some countries, like Spain and Greece, both of which rely heavily on foreign tourism to prop up their economies, the vote will likely be a foregone conclusion.
- If all EU countries agree to the measures, nonessential travel (as in, travel for pleasure, not just for business) could begin as early as June 1.
What will the requirements be for traveling to Europe?
- The simplest way to get into Europe once tourism has fully reopened is to get vaccinated.
- Once you’ve been fully vaccinated with a vaccine that has been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), you’ll be permitted to enter.
- Luckily for Americans, the vaccines being administered in the US – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – are all approved by the EMA.
- Individual countries could choose to impose stricter requirements, like requiring negative COVID-19 tests.
- The proposed measures include what is being called an “emergency brake” to quickly shut down travel if a country has a new outbreak.
Wait, aren’t some European countries already open?
- Yes! A couple are. Because several European countries are heavily reliant on foreign tourism and have been economically struggling without that foreign money, they made the decision to reopen early.
- Greece opened to foreign tourists from the EU and around the world, including the US, earlier this month.
- Visitors must present proof they have been vaccinated (like a vaccine passport), or they will need to give the negative results of a PCR test that was taken within 72 hours before arriving.
- Iceland is also open to American travelers, as long as those travelers can prove they have been fully vaccinated or previously had the virus.
- Other popular tourist destinations – including France, Ireland and Germany – still have restrictions in place that keep American tourists out, but that could all change soon if the EU votes to pass the travel measures.
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