Travel hotspot rules as Europe prepares to welcome tourists again
Spain opened its borders to all vaccinated travelers on Monday as the rest of Europe prepares to welcome tourists after Covid-19 closures and travel restrictions essentially scuttled the summer travel season Last year. Here is a summary of the current rules for some of the tourism hot spots in Europe.
European tourism struggled last year as coronavirus closures, curfews and restrictions on hotels and restaurants threatened the livelihoods of many in the industry and frustrated potential travelers.
The summer of 2020 saw a sharp drop in European cross-border travel, leaving the continent’s beaches, towns and landmarks strangely deserted.
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This year is set to be different: Covid-19 is still far from being eradicated, but virus tests are widely available, the EU’s vaccination rollout has accelerated and the bloc will launch a EU travel card – in digital and paper form – to facilitate cross-border travel from July 1.
Some key destinations like Italy are already reporting an increase in bookings as Spain started welcoming visitors vaccinated on Monday and hopes to reach up to 70% of pre-pandemic tourism levels this year.
Tourists from countries outside the bloc – which since Brexit have included the UK – still face obstacles at EU borders, with European governments saying they must avoid a new wave of infections even if they cautiously reopen to tourists.
“We have to reconcile freedom of mobility with the need for security,” said French Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, echoing a feeling across the EU.
Here is a summary of the rules in force in some of the tourism hot spots in Europe.
France, the world’s leading tourist destination, announced a color-coded map setting out entry protocols for the summer travel season, with restrictions lifted for EU residents and “green” countries like Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand and Singapore.
From July 1, France will also recognize the travel pass.
In “orange” areas including Great Britain, North America and most countries in Asia and Africa, even travelers vaccinated in France will have to produce a negative Covid-19 test carried out within the last 72 hours (or 48 hours for a negative antigen test). But they will no longer need to quarantine or have a compelling reason (compelling reasons) for their visit.
For unvaccinated people arriving from “orange” areas, however, only essential travel will be allowed and a seven-day self-quarantine is imposed in addition to the above requirements for a Covid-19 test.
Visitors from 16 countries will remain severely restricted, including India, Turkey, South Africa and much of South America, including Brazil.
Wearing a mask remains mandatory indoors and outdoors, but the curfew rules will be lifted on June 30.
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Spain dropped the requirement for EU arrivals to produce a recent negative PCR test on Monday, June 7.
Anyone who has been vaccinated can now enter the country, regardless of their point of origin. The recognized vaccines are those approved by the European medicines regulator – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson – as well as two Chinese vaccines authorized by the World Health Organization, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
Authorities will accept official certificates as proof that visitors have been vaccinated at least 14 days before travel or that they have overcome a Covid-19 infection in the past six months.
Certificates can be in Spanish, English, French or German – or their equivalent translations in Spanish, depending on the government order.
Spain continues to ban non-essential travelers from Brazil, India and South Africa, where viral variants remain a major concern.
Masks remain mandatory, including outdoors, except on beaches as long as people keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) from each other. Walking on the beach will always require a mask.
The Madrid region and Catalonia (which includes Barcelona) have lifted their curfews, with bars and restaurants allowed to stay open until 1 a.m. in Madrid and until midnight in Catalonia.
Spain says it is ready for the EU pass but has yet to log into the system.
Arrivals from the EU, Britain and Israel must produce a negative Covid-19 test less than 48 hours old and complete a health form but do not need to go into quarantine.
Travelers from Australia, South Korea, Rwanda, Thailand, Canada and the United States must test negative, self-quarantine for 10 days, and then take another test.
Italy is off-limits to tourists from Brazil, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Masks are still mandatory, although starting in July people may be allowed to take them off outdoors.
A curfew between midnight and 5 a.m. remains in effect, and no more than four people per table are allowed in bars and restaurants.
Portugal’s southern Algarve coast is a favorite destination for British tourists, with bookings resuming since the country reopened to European tourists last month.
All arrivals from EU, Schengen area and UK countries require a negative PCR test dated within 72 hours to enter Portugal. The same rules apply to arrivals from Australia, South Korea, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand and China.
Everyone needs a compelling reason to enter Portugal.
Arrivals from South Africa, Brazil and India will need to self-isolate upon arrival.
Social distancing and mask wearing are mandatory, and special rules are in place for beaches and pool areas, with a minimum distance of 3 meters required between umbrellas.
Portugal is expected to sign the EU travel pass on July 1.
The Greek government hopes to achieve around half of its pre-pandemic tourism revenue this summer, which, if confirmed, would double last year’s figures.
Arrivals from EU and Schengen Area countries are allowed into Greece, as are residents of Canada, the United States, Israel, China, Thailand, Russia and Saudi Arabia. But they are required to complete a form and produce proof of vaccination or a PCR test within 72 hours, or a post-infection immunity certificate.
Masks remain compulsory inside and out.
Nightclubs and covered cultural venues remain closed while the maximum number of people allowed per table in restaurants is six.
Travel to Britain is made difficult for most countries of the world due to strict restrictions on arrivals, costly quarantine requirements and costly Covid-19 testing.
The efforts of the tourism sector are mainly focused on domestic vacationers. Arrivals from Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands can enter freely.
Travelers from a handful of “green” countries – including Australia, New Zealand and Iceland – have the best chance of vacationing in Britain. Although they must produce a negative Covid-19 test and also pay for another test to be performed on the second day after arrival, if this second test turns out to be negative, quarantine is not necessary.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)