If you have been looking forward to a European vacation and the chance to soak up all that old world charm, the good news is that Europe is now open to American visitors. The message is that Americans are now welcome to visit all 27 European countries but there are still some restrictions as the COVID pandemic is still far from over.
Ursula Von De Leyden made the announcement back in May. She has stipulated that a condition of travel is that all US visitors must have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine which meets European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval. The approved vaccines are Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech.
Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are working out a design for a Vaccine Passport at the time of writing, so we can only hope that this will be fully operational as we move into August.
According to Ursula Von De Leyden, this vaccine passport will enable travel and full access to the 27 countries of the European Union. The message is that you cannot travel without it, so you will need to get this in order before you even consider coming to Europe.
So does this mean that travel in Europe is now safe?
The COVID pandemic is far from over. Italy, Belgium and France have all experienced a high death rate and the vaccination program has not had a significant uptake in all the EU countries. France has not developed its own vaccine for example so you can’t rely on any EU country having a fully vaccinated population.
This combined with the rise of new variants originating from across the world such as South Africa and India means that you cannot guarantee safety. Local regulations are still in force so you will need to follow these in order to avoid a hefty fine.
Fines for contravening COVID regulations vary across the EU. In Spain for example there is a €6,000 fine for failing to produce a valid PCR test. At the time of writing there is still a curfew in France which will cost you €135 for breaking. All the countries across Europe have different regulations and restrictions so it is important to be aware of these for the country you are visiting.
So is it a good idea to travel to Europe right now?
If you need to visit Europe for family or business reasons, the good news is that yes, now you can!
However if you are considering visiting Europe for a vacation, you may find that the risks may derail your vacation.
You will find that the COVID restrictions and risks may have an impact. You may still be required to wear a mask in public areas and it is very important to follow the local regulations to avoid a fine.