Traveling to Europe in the summer of 2021 amid COVID-19
Whether you enjoy beautiful coastlines like the Caldera in Greece, Amalfi in Italy, Ibiza and Mallorca in Spain, or cultural and classic destinations such as the Louvre in France and the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, the ‘Europe is a diverse destination that one must visit.
Just like other parts of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit European countries hard and forced them to close all their external borders in order to protect public health by stopping the spread of the coronavirus in countries, reports SchengenVisaInfo. com. .
On March 17, 2020, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, together with the President of the Council of the EU, Charles Michael, announced that the EU bodies had decided to close the external borders of the EU for non-essential travel to the EU for 30 days, but this lasted until June 30, 2020.
However, as the epidemiological situation inside and outside European countries began to improve, Member States decided to abolish these measures and gradually began to lift restrictions for travelers from the EU. and several third countries with low infection rates.
This lifting of restrictions was further supported by the introduction of the EU’s COVID-19 digital passport, which began to come into force on July 1, after the European Commission saw it as an effective way to monitor the movement of travelers within the EU and the Schengen area. countries.
EU nationals traveling throughout the bloc
With the exception of restrictions on arrivals outside the bloc of 27 countries, the new strains of the virus have prompted several EU / Schengen countries to close their internal borders and apply strict restrictions on all arrivals. from a country at high risk of coronavirus.
Denmark, Finland, Germany, Portugal and Spain are just a few of the countries in the Schengen area which reintroduced internal border controls in February.
However, since the pandemic situation began to improve, EU citizens have been allowed to travel within the bloc without being subject to strict rules.
Several EU countries have placed on and off restrictions, but in general unrestricted entry is allowed to all EU citizens traveling in the block. Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that in order to be able to travel freely in the block, one must be in possession of an EU COVID-19 digital passport.
As such, all document holders can travel to other member countries / countries associated with the Schengen area for non-essential purposes without having to undergo strict restrictions, such as additional testing and quarantine requirements.
The EU COVID-19 digital passport was issued by the European Commission and is digital proof that a person has:
- Has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 disease
- Received a negative COVID-19 test result
- Recovered from illness
“National authorities are responsible for issuing the certificate. It could, for example, be issued by test centers or health authorities, or directly via an e-health portal. Information on how to obtain the certificate should be provided by the national health authorities. noted the Commission.
In addition, the main characteristics of the certificate are as follows:
- Can be issued in digital or paper format
- Includes a unique QR code
- A free document provided by the authorities of each country
- Published in the national language and in English
- Recognized in all EU countries
Which COVID-19 vaccines are recognized in the EU
In accordance with the guidelines of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), so far the European Commission has only authorized four different vaccines – BioNTech / Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson – which means that only people immunized with any of these vaccines can travel within the EU without restriction.
>>Netherlands: COVID-19 vaccines recognized for travel
Nevertheless, despite the EU’s announcement, 15 Europeans have decided to recognize the AstraZeneca / Covishield vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India as valid proof of immunity, said the chief scientist of the World Health Organization. health (WHO) Soumya Swaminathan.
If you plan to travel to the block in the summer of 2021, a new tool developed by VisaGuide.World helps you check if the country you plan to visit recognizes the vaccines you have been immunized with.
>>What COVID-19 vaccines are approved for travel to Spain
COVID-19 situation and vaccination rate in the EU
Overall, the COVID-19 situation in the EU is stable as most countries continue their vaccination campaigns.
According to the latest figures provided by vaccine producers and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), around 500 million doses of vaccine have been delivered to European countries.
As a result, more than 404.4 million doses have been administered in the EU, suggesting that 66.3% of the adult EU population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. In contrast, about 49.1 percent were fully immunized.
It should be noted that the Coronavirus situation and the vaccination rate are different in each EU country. Thus, it is strongly suggested to check the COVID-19 situation and measures of each country before planning a trip.
>>Traveling to France this summer amid COVID-19 – Everything you need to know
With regard to negative COVID-19 test result certificates, in general, European countries will recognize such a document provided that a PCR test result has been taken within 72 hours of arrival or a test result. rapid antigen not older than 48 hours at the time. entry.
“The EU’s COVID digital certificate should facilitate free movement within the EU. It will not be a precondition for free movement, which is a fundamental right in the EU ”, the Commission noted, indicating that even those who have not yet been vaccinated can travel freely within the EU.
>>Traveling to Greece in the summer of 2021: here’s what you need to know
European Commission advises member states to open borders to residents of 23 third countries
In May 2021, the European Commission recommended member states to ease restrictions on non-essential travel to EU countries, after reviewing improvements in the epidemiological situation and holiday campaigns.
“In June 2020, the Council adopted a recommendation on temporary restrictions on non-essential travel within the EU and the possible lifting of these restrictions. The recommendation was last updated on May 20, 2021 to respond to ongoing vaccination campaigns by introducing certain exemptions for people vaccinated and relaxing the criteria for lifting restrictions for third countries ”, the Commission statement reads.
The Commission proposal stated that all people from countries where the epidemiological situation is stable as well as all people who have received the recommended doses of vaccine should be allowed to enter the EU.
>> Who can travel to Germany this summer and what are the rules
The Commission has continuously updated the list of epidemiologically non-EU countries that should be allowed to enter the 27-nation bloc for non-essential purposes, and according to the last update on July 15 , the list includes the following third countries:
- Bosnia herzegovina
- Brunei Darussalam
- China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity
- New Zealand
- Republic of Moldova
- Republic of North Macedonia
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- united states of america
Ukraine was recently added to the list of third countries allowed to enter the EU for travel purposes, while Rwanda and Thailand were removed from the list.
All of the aforementioned countries have recorded less than 75 cases of COVID-19 infection per 100,000 population in the past 14 days, placing them on the list of safe third countries.
“Following a review in the framework of the recommendation on the gradual lifting of temporary restrictions on non-essential travel within the EU, the Council updated the list of countries, special administrative regions and other territorial entities and authorities for which travel restrictions should be lifted. In particular, Rwanda and Thailand were removed from the list and Ukraine was added to the list ”, the Council statement reads.
Nevertheless, the Commission recommendation does not prevent EU member states and Schengen associated countries from imposing requirements related to the coronavirus and testing and self-isolation measures. This means that each EU country can decide on its own restrictions, provided that they inform the other Member States and the Commission of their decisions.
>> Germany allows entry of unvaccinated tourists from 25 third countries
Which third country nationals are allowed to enter Finland and Estonia?
Even though the Commission has called on all EU / Schengen area countries to allow entry of all those on the epidemiologically listed third country list, Finland continues to apply stricter rules .
Only citizens of the following third countries can enter Finland without restriction:
- San Marino
- Vatican City
- Bosnia herzegovina
Likewise, Estonia does not allow entry into the 23 third countries on the EU security list. Currently, only nationals of the following third countries can enter Estonia without restrictions:
Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Ukraine and United States.
Travel Insurance – A must when traveling to the EU
It is strongly suggested that anyone planning to travel to the block this summer purchase extensive travel insurance that covers pandemic and epidemic situations to ensure that in the event that their trip is canceled due to the situation. COVID-19, a considerable amount of their expenses can be saved.
Before purchasing travel insurance for European / Schengen area countries, it is advisable for everyone to check if it includes low deductibles for medical expenses and benefits.
Travel insurance protection can be purchased at a very reasonable price from MondialCare, Europ Assistance or AXA Assistance.