Although vaccines are emboldening travelers to start hitting the roads and skies again, it is still challenging to visit European countries, which often require lengthy quarantines, testing, social distancing, hand washing and the wearing of masks by visitors. But Europe is indeed starting to open up. Over the weekend, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said American tourists who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to visit countries in the European Union this summer (see related story in this issue). For now, however, here’s a brief summary of what U.S. travelers need to know right now if they want to travel to Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
BRITAIN: Currently those traveling to England must either quarantine in place or in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days and must take TWO COVID 19 tests, which need to be booked before arriving. An announcement is expected on May 17, 2021 explaining a color coding of countries where visitors come from and how they will be used to manage travelers in more detail. Due to the risks posed by COVID-19 variants, the 10-day managed quarantine, home quarantine, and stringent testing will remain in place, but will apply to people differently depending on whether they come from locations categorized by the government as “green,” “amber” or “red.”
Green: Arrivals into England from countries designated as green will need to take a pre-departure test as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day two of their arrival into England, but will not need to quarantine on return unless they receive a positive result.
Amber: Arrivals from a country designated as amber will need to quarantine for a period of 10 days, take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on day two and day eight in England, with the option for a test to release on day five to end self-isolation early.
Red: Arrivals from a country designated as red will be subject to the restrictions currently in place for red-listed countries, which include a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and PCR testing on day two and eight.
Arrivals traveling from red-listed countries should book a quarantine package before departure, and arrivals from amber and green countries will be required to book test packages before traveling from one of the government’s approved list of providers. Fines for failing to self-isolate can be up to $1,270, and those providing inaccurate contact details can be fined up to $4,070. Leaving quarantine should be limited to urgent medical needs, obtaining basic necessities such as food and medication, to attend a funeral of a close relative, or for an emergency.
It is too early to predict what countries will be on which color list over the summer. The British government will make its first announcement confirming whether international travel can resume on May 17, 2021.
Travelers should only travel to Scotland if there is an essential reason to do so. At the moment, holidays are not a legal reason. With an essential reason to travel from abroad, travelers will need to isolate in a hotel or at home in Scotland for at least 10 days. Wales and Northern Ireland employ the same 10-day isolation period for arrivals, except if arriving from within the Common Travel Area, which includes the U.K., the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
According to Gavin Landry, VisitBritain’s executive vice president and director of the Americas, a good resource is the “Know Before You Go” page on www.visitbritain.com. For more information, visit www.gov.uk.
FRANCE: Until French President Emmanual Macron lifts restrictions, possibly in May, with the aim of having a full plan in place by summertime, U.S. citizens and residents can return to the U.S., but will not be allowed to enter or reenter France without showing a qualifying compelling reason. For travel to France, different rules apply depending on whether the travel originates from within the “European area” or from other non-excluded countries, including the U.S., and whether the traveler is a citizen of a European country or not.
Travelers from the U.S. must fit into one of 8 categories, starting with third-country (non-French or EU) nationals with a valid French or European or long-stay visa with either their main residence in France or in transit through France to their main residence in another EU country showing a compelling reason for their trip.
Other categories include 3rd-country nationals attempting family reunification or family reunification of refugees, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection and stateless persons; health professionals or foreign researchers contributing to the fight against COVID-19 or recruited as an associate trainee; holders of a long stay “Talent Passport” visa; students coming to France for the second academic semester as part of a program of a higher education institution, or researchers coming to France at the invitation of a research laboratory, for research activities requiring a physical presence; workers in the ground, sea, and air transportation industries or transport service providers; foreign nationals working in a diplomatic or consular mission, or an international organization having its headquarters or an office in France, as well as the spouse and children, or a foreign national of a third country residing in France for compelling professional reasons under official orders issued by their country; and third-country nationals in transit of less than 24 hours who will not leave the international transit zone.
All qualifying travelers must also show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test performed within 72 hours before boarding the flight, fill out a form that they have no COVID-19 symptoms and acknowledging they are required to self-isolate for seven days upon arrival in France followed by another PCR test at the end of the self-isolation period. The COVID-19 testing requirements do not apply to children under age 11, but the self-isolation period and other requirements do apply. For more information, click on Advice for Foreign Nationals in France.
ITALY: U.S. citizens are not permitted to enter Italy, but they may depart Italy to return to the U.S. at any time. Current travel restrictions are linked to several factors, including one’s country of departure and purpose of travel. Non-essential travel to Italy from most non-EU countries including the U.S. is prohibited. Essential travel is allowed and includes students, businesspersons, EU residents, and relatives of Italian citizens.
All persons traveling to Italy from any foreign location are required to provide airline or Italian law enforcement officials with a self-declaration form prior to travel. Regional governments in Italy may also impose their own restrictions on travelers from certain foreign countries, so travelers intending to travel or return to Italy are advised to check whether any new provisions have been introduced by that region.
Testing requirements and testing options are prompted by an individual’s presence in or transit through particular countries and a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) may be required in some cases, with health screening available at airports and other ports of entry. Transiting through Italian airports is allowed, but those traveling from certain listed countries are not permitted to leave the airport while transiting. For more information, click on Italian Foreign Ministry Travel Website.
SPAIN: Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, U.S. citizens may leave, but cannot enter Spain unless they meet very specific requirements or have already obtained special permission from the government of Spain. Visitors who travel to Spain and are not admitted will be placed in immigration detention for up to several days, until a flight on the same airline becomes available for a return trip.
Before traveling to Spain, all passengers arriving from other countries must complete a health control form and show the QR code to the border health control at the airport upon arrival. One form must be completed for each passenger. Parents or legal guardians can complete the form for minors, dependents, or disabled persons. Travelers can start the form at any time before their flight, but can only answer health questions and finalize the form 48 hours before arrival in Spain. The FCS healthform and additional information is available in English at the Spain Health Portal at www.spth.gob.es.
Passengers arriving from the U.S. or any other country with a high COVID-19 infection rate will also be required to present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival to enter Spain. For more information, visit travelsafe.spain.info/en.
GREECE: While a more generalized opening will occur as of May 14, currently every traveler going to Greece from abroad should have a negative PCR test from a diagnostic laboratory. The test has to be conducted no later than 72 hours before arrival. This test is mandatory for all tourists, including children over the age of 5, regardless of the country of departure. While proof of vaccination is not mandatory, it will make entry easier. If a traveler can confirm with a certificate that 14 days have elapsed since the traveler’s last vaccination, then proof of a negative PCR test is not required. Be aware that every traveler who arrives in Greece may be asked to undergo a random health check, and if selected, the check is mandatory.
The nine airports from which passengers are allowed to enter Greece are Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Corfu, Rhodes, Kos, Chania, Mykonos, and Santorini. Travelers are allowed to enter by land through Promachonas and Nymphaio. Isolation is not required for travelers arriving from the EU, U.S., U.K,, Israel, Serbia and UAE. For more information, visit https://travel.gov.gr/.
GERMANY: A travel ban has been imposed by Germany on countries with widespread occurrence of the COVID-19 variants. The U.S. is considered a risk area by the German government. The government’s categories are no risk, risk, high incidence and variant areas. Airlines and railway companies are prohibited from carrying any persons from the risk countries to Germany. There are only a few, strictly defined exceptions to this travel ban, namely for persons who are resident in Germany with a current right to reside in the country; persons on connecting flights, who do not leave the transit zone of an international airport; and a few other special cases. Travel exceptions must complete an online registration form and must present a negative COVD-19 test result taken within 48 hours of departure prior to entry. In addition, travelers from these risk areas must quarantine for 10 days.
In Germany, the individual states are responsible for quarantine regulations and it can vary. Travelers should read the regulations on quarantine and testing for the chosen destination carefully. For more information, click on Germany’s Federal Foreign Office.
AUSTRIA: Tentatively, Austria intends to re-open itshospitality industry on May 19, but at the moment a lockdown is in effect. Hotels are closed, so tourism and leisure travel are not possible. Non-essential shops are closed, museums are closed, and a stay-at-home order is in effect 24 hours a day. All travelers need to obtain pre-travel clearance before arriving in Austria and must show a negative COVID-19 test upon entry. All travelers must quarantine upon arrival regardless of having proof of antibodies, negative testing or vaccinations. For more information, click on Austrian Official Travel Portal.
SWITZERLAND: Entry to Switzerland is restricted. Since March 25, 2021, travelers arriving in Switzerland from the U.S. have not needed to quarantine, but must present valid proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the test requirement. For more information, click on the Swiss Confederation Website.
Collected and Collated by the fine Mr. Alan Fine and James Shillinglaw, of the Travel Insider Report, a veritable encyclopedia of travel knowledge!
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