If you’re a person who hasn’t traveled a great deal, but you yearn to spread your wings and start exploring this beautiful rock we live on, please read on.
Is Travel Even Safe?
Unfortunately, the question “is travel safe?” doesn’t have a very straightforward answer. Obviously, how safe travel is will depend to a large extent on where you go. Some countries are generally safer than others. Certain towns and cities within countries are safer than others. Certain neighborhoods in towns and cities are safer than others. The countryside is usually much safer than the cities.
Coronavirus Travel Restrictions in Europe
Where can I travel? Great question! Europe as a continent is not the same as the European Union (EU) which currently has 27 member countries. Nineteen of the EU countries use the Euro (€) as their official currency. Collectively, these 19 countries are called the Eurozone.
Currently, as of February 2, 2021, new criteria for travel restrictions were agreed upon by members of the EU. To lift restrictions for non-essential travel, the following criteria must be met: there shouldn’t be over 25 new COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 residents within 14 days. Cases should also decrease or remain stable compared to those of the last 14 days. With the new coronavirus variants emerging, it’s been decided that if a highly contagious variant emerges, travel restrictions will be quickly and strictly enforced. This has already been implemented in countries that have highly contagious variants like the United Kingdom and Brazil.
Entry Requirements and Entry Restrictions
Regarding entry restrictions, for all travelers (both essential and non-essential) a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test must be taken no more than 72 hours in advance. This applies to most European member nations that are allowing travel. Travelers will be required to provide evidence of their negative COVID-19 test results as well. In some circumstances, self-isolation or quarantine periods may be required for up to 14 days and additional COVID-19 testing.
Which European Countries Are Open For Travelers?
Since April 1, tourists have been able to visit Croatia if they can show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR test. However, these tourists will also need to show evidence that they’ve arranged and paid for their accommodations prior to their departure.
Albania is one of the few European countries not requiring a negative coronavirus test from travelers. Screening procedures will be conducted at the airport and visitors will need to follow social distancing guidelines.
US travelers can also visit Belarus with a negative COVID-19 test. They will also have to go through health screenings and a 10-day self-isolation period upon arrival.
Ireland is another country US travelers are able to visit currently. Proof of a negative COVID-19 test must be shown, with consequences for those who try to find a loophole. All travelers need to quarantine for 2 weeks once they arrive, but Ireland officials still don’t recommend nonessential travel.
Iceland has been allowing fully vaccinated travelers to enter the country since March 18, 2021, without any testing or quarantine conditions.
Some European countries, however, are restricting entry for only visitors from other European countries. Such as Greece, which is not allowing US travelers to visit now unless it's for essential travel reasons. It hopes to open its borders for all travelers this summer on the condition that they are vaccinated, or test negative for COVID-19.
In Germany, the country is effectively closed to tourists, but the borders remain open. It's still possible to enter Germany, however, Germany has gone into a strict lockdown (which has been extended until April 18, 2021). Travel has not been banned, but an appeal issued is to refrain from non-essential trips.
Other European countries that are only permitting visitors from Europe are France, Spain, and Italy.
With time and with more vaccines being distributed globally, we'll see even more travel restrictions start to be lifted. Eventually, all countries in Europe will be open again for US travelers!