Travel Europe Finally Lifts U.S. Travel Ban—458 Days Later
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These destinations are great escapes for a long weekend trip.Still, eager globetrotters should consider a few factors before traveling, including the rate of COVID-19 infections in their hometowns and desired trip locations, as well as their own health risks and vaccination status. Be sure to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of State websites for up-to-date information before booking your trip, and plan to abide by all local guidelines, which may include wearing face masks and social distancing.
It has been 15 months—458 days, to be exact—since the majority of Americans were first barred from entering Europe due to the pandemic, a period of restricted transatlantic travel that lasted much longer than many could have ever imagined. But on June 18, the United States was added to the
What does the move mean for U.S. travelers hoping to head to Europe? It’s significant in that it gives EU countries (that have not already done so) the green light to lift restrictions on U.S. travelers. Being on this list also opens up travel options for U.S. travelers who are unvaccinated and not just those who are vaccinated. On May 20, European Union leaders had already agreed onto enter the 27-nation bloc.
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. No one expects their trip to be canceled or interrupted. But, things happen. Perhaps a family member is suddenly hospitalized. Or, maybe an emergency makes your home uninhabitable and you have to oversee repairs. You might even be the one that’s injured or hospitalized. …No one expects their trip to be canceled or interrupted. But, things happen. Perhaps a family member is suddenly hospitalized. Or, maybe an emergency makes your home uninhabitable and you have to oversee repairs. You might even be the one that’s injured or hospitalized.
Once countries, such as the United States, reach certain epidemiological benchmarks (no more than 75 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, for instance), they can be considered for the approved countries list, which allows for the lifting of restrictions on nonessential travel regardless of vaccination status.
In reality, several European countries had already started opening back up to Americans in recent weeks prior to this announcement, including, , , , , and . Some, like France, were requiring that U.S. travelers be vaccinated; others, like Portugal, were not requiring vaccination.
The European Council, which made the recommendation, has asked throughout the pandemic that member countries act “in a coordinated manner.” Its recommendations are not legally binding, however, and each country in Europe has the final say on exactly what its requirements are and will be for travelers entering its borders.
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Maybe it's falling asleep on the red-eye flight, dreaming of gleaming skyscrapers before waking up to views of Long Island, ready to live out all your NYC fantasies. © PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images Covid-19 testing signage at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in January 2021. Or perhaps it's finally breezing down Route 66, the California wind in your hair, and the open road boundless in front of you. For many British travelers, a vacation in America is a dream come true, a culmination of years of consuming US cinema and culture.
But now that the United States is on the approved travel list, it’s likely that European Union countries that have not yet unveiled their plans for welcoming back U.S. travelers will do so.
Video: European Union lifts travel restrictions for Americans (NBC News)
One such example? Germany, which has been following the European Council’s recommendations, has alreadythat effective June 20, it will allow “unrestricted entry” to travelers on the new approved list of countries. Until now, the United States was considered an “international risk area” by Germany, and travelers arriving from the U.S. had to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR upon arrival and then quarantine for up to 10 days. As of June 20, travelers from the U.S. must provide either a negative COVID-19 test result, proof of vaccination, or proof of recovery from COVID-19 and are not required to quarantine.
These international destinations are open to tourists
Most of the world has been shut off to tourists as coronavirus cases continue to spike. These are the destinations where leisure travel is still possible, albeit usually with some Covid-19 testing requirements.In the end, it's up to you to decide whether travel to international destinations is a good idea. The health risks are obvious. Variants of the virus have emerged. Nations might change their rules at any time. You may have to adhere to strict curfews and mask mandates. Violations could involve big fines and even jail time. Local health services may be under strain.
We could also see some countries adjust their requirements. For instance, on June 18, the same day that the European Council made its recommendation, France moved the United States to its “” of countries, which is open to unvaccinated travelers as long as they submit a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test that was taken within 72 prior to boarding. Previously, the United States was on France’s “orange list” of countries, and only vaccinated leisure travelers could enter from the U.S. carrying with them a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test.
Prior to the easing of restrictions, travelers from the U.S. and other countries not on the list could only enter Europe if they were EU citizens or residents, or were traveling for essential reasons, such as for work, study, or a family emergency—with very few additional exceptions. The more than year-long ban on travel to Europe from the U.S. has not just severely hampered Europe’s formerly thriving tourism industry but has also kept loved ones apart for months on end.
As mentioned above, the European Council’s recommendations are nonbinding and European countries can implement entry requirements as they see fit. U.S. travelers who are ready and willing to head to Europe should confirm the rules and restrictions for each individual country they plan to visit.
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One excellent resource for this is the U.S. State Department’s detailedand , which are typically updated regularly. We often cross-check these references with each individual country’s foreign affairs office, which typically establishes and publishes entry requirements.
U.S. travelers should be aware that all international passengers age two and older flying into the U.S. (including returning U.S. citizens and permanent residents)test procured within three days before boarding their flight to the U.S.
The CDC also hasduring the pandemic, both for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.
The complete list of countries and territories now on the European Council’s approved travel list are (the June 18 additions are marked with an asterisk):
- Hong Kong*
- China (subject to reciprocity)
- New Zealand
- North Macedonia*
- South Korea
- United States of America*
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