Big news came out of the European Union earlier this week: the European Council, the body that defines the overall political directions and priorities of the European Union, made a recommendation to remove the United States from the list of countries where travel restrictions should be lifted for non-essential travel.
The first thing to know is that this is a recommendation, not a requirement. Each member state of the European Council can set their own guidelines about which nation’s visitors they will let in. Unfortunately, at this time, they have determined that the United States should not be approved for unqualified entry to their countries. Again, this is the recommendation of the Council, and countries can make their own requirements.
So to be clear: Americans are NOT banned from traveling to Europe. But now there is an excellent chance that an American arriving to Europe will have some hoops to jump through. Vaccination status will make the biggest difference for travelers, so I would highly encourage your clients to make sure that they are fully vaccinated against coronavirus before their trip, and to check what each country considers fully vaccinated. Austria, for instance, has said that it considers someone vaccinated only for 270 days following their second dose of a two-dose vaccine regimen. After that time, a traveler will not be considered vaccinated.
Italy has been one of the first countries to make changes based on this recommendation. While previously all Americans could enter the country with a negative Covid test, that only applies to the vaccinated now. Unvaccinated Americans will need to quarantine for five days upon arrival. I expect we will see more regulations like this in the coming days and weeks.
Rules are changing every day. Tomorrow could be different, and that is why you are so valuable to travelers now. As travel experts, you can help explain the facts and that U.S. travelers are indeed, not banned from Europe. You can let them know what they need to do to enter a country and have an enjoyable vacation. I am sure many of you are getting panicked phone calls about travel to Europe. I hope you know that your clients are very fortunate to have you in their corner.
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