As cases surge, the US has been put on alert. Here’s what you need to know
On Monday, 30 August, the European Union recommended that the US be removed from its list of ‘safe travel’ countries. Being on the list cleared the way for travelers from the US to visit the EU without the need to quarantine, meaning there were fewer restrictions to enter the EU, and travel possibilities were slowly opening up. However, due to rising covid case numbers, it looks like that’s again about to change.
It will be up to individual member states to decide whether to impose restrictions or not, but the EU is urging all of its 27 member states to take this advice seriously and reinstate mandatory quarantine and testing procedures for US visitors. At the same time, Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and North Macedonia have also been removed from the EU’s safe travel list.
How will the new EU travel restrictions affect your plans?
If you are fully vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine, which include those manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, you might well not be affected by the new rules. Indeed, many countries are urging travelers to bring proof of vaccination to make arrival and transiting through countries swifter and easier.
Travel has been possible from the US since the end of May, giving countries such as France and Spain the chance to kickstart their economies with some tourist dollars. Now, due to the Delta variant spreading across unvaccinated US citizens around the country, the reintroduction of restrictions feels unwelcome but completely necessary.
“What is going on now is both entirely predictable, but entirely preventable. And you know we know we have the wherewithal with vaccines to turn this around,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious diseases expert. “We could turn this around and we could do it efficiently and quickly if we just get those people vaccinated.”
When will the new EU restrictions come into effect?
As the situation changes, it’s highly likely many countries will make a decision this week as to if and how their entry requirements will change. Italy, for example, requires all visitors to be fully vaccinated or to take a test 48 hours before arrival. The Italian National Tourist Board said a statement would be coming this week to inform travelers of any changes. For each individual country, it may simply be a matter of wait and see.
Booster shot after 270 days
Croatia and Austria have already tightened entry requirements for fully vaccinated travelers by setting an expiration date of 270 days after the second dose of the two-dose vaccine. With Croatia and Austria paving the way, it’s likely more EU countries will follow suit. That’s why the US is already planning to launch a booster shot program for their fully vaccinated citizens.
Across the US, 52.1% of the population was fully vaccinated as of Saturday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some states, including South Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas, have a vaccination rate of less than 50%, and Florida is struggling to cope, with hospitals running at more than full capacity.
Even with the proviso that EU countries need proof of vaccination, it’s important to never assume that the person sitting in the seat next to you is vaccinated. Remember to wear your mask while traveling, covering both your mouth and nose. It’s a small inconvenience that means things can get back to normal quicker.
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