E.U. Journey Restrictions: What U.S. Vacationers Ought to Know

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On Monday, the European Union removed the United States from its “safe list” of countries whose residents can travel to its 27 member states without restrictions such as quarantine and testing. This created confusion as some people posted on social media that Americans were banned from visiting Europe. That is not actually what the recommendation means. Americans have not been specifically prohibited from going anywhere in Europe. But vaccination status could soon affect travel even more than before. Here you can see what the new developments mean for vaccinated and unvaccinated people:

Since June, the USA has been on the European Union’s “safe list” for travel, which has given American travelers the opportunity to visit many EU member states without quarantine. The European Council of the European Union, the bloc’s governing body, not only removed the US from the safe list on Monday, but also issued a recommendation calling on member countries to put travel restrictions on visitors from the United States who are not have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. The European Union is encouraging authorities across Europe to reintroduce the mandatory quarantine and testing requirements that appeared to be on the way, but only for unvaccinated travelers.

Ultimately, however, it is up to each country whether it wants to issue new requirements.

If you are fully vaccinated with an EU approved vaccine, which includes those manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, the requirements for entry into an EU country should not change. Many Member States have already asked travelers to bring proof of vaccination and waive quarantine requirements for those who can provide proof of vaccination.

Countries could decide to add new restrictions, but it is unclear whether they will. Still, it is advisable to have your Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card on hand no matter where you are traveling.

As of Monday afternoon, it was not yet clear how the new recommendation would change travel for unvaccinated Americans, aside from signaling that some European officials want them to stay away.

Tom Milanovic, a marketing manager for the Spanish Tourism Authority, said many concerned people called him on Monday wondering if they had to cancel upcoming trips. But even for unvaccinated travelers, the recommendation of the European Union has so far not changed the requirements of Spain, he said.

“Every US citizen, regardless of status, is still good to go,” he said, adding that the country is issuing new guidelines every week. Current guidelines, which will run through September 5, continue to categorize the United States as “low risk,” which means Americans do not need to show a negative antigen test before flying to Spain.

The Italian National Tourist Board announced that it would publish an official position later this week on how the European Union’s recommendation will affect travel. Currently, all US visitors must be fully vaccinated or have a coronavirus test done 48 hours before arriving in Italy. (If they have tested positive in the past, they will need a certificate of recovery.) Some airlines, such as Delta Air Lines, may also require vaccinated travelers from the United States to have a coronavirus test before their flight.

Updated

Aug. 30, 2021, 7:41 p.m. ET

Tourism authorities of several other countries said they are not free to discuss the new requirements, but as far as they are aware, the EU recommendation does not change anything immediately.

No, but it underscores how quickly rules and regulations keep changing. Unvaccinated travelers should be prepared to update the entry requirements for their chosen location by the time they leave for the airport. It is also worth remembering that some countries are quarantining unvaccinated travelers long before this recommendation.

If children are too young to be vaccinated, the new recommendation will not affect them, an EU official said.

The new recommendation makes an exception for essential travel.

No, that doesn’t change anything yet. There is no guarantee that the person sitting next to you on your flight has been vaccinated.

You can certainly try.

Kate Kilcoyne, a travel consultant for All-Travel, a Los Angeles-based travel agency, said it was too early to know how airlines and cruises will respond to this new development, but her clients have generally had more success with it Credit as cash refunds when they cancel their travel plans.

Tammy O’Hara, a travel agent for Million Miles Travel Agency, a New York-based boutique company, repeated the point. She found that most hotels are more willing to offer full refunds than airlines, she added.

Standard travel insurance may not be all that helpful, said Svetlana Stein, president of L&B Travel, LLC, a Los Angeles agency.

“Covid-19 is now considered a predictable situation and is often not accepted as a covered reason for cancellation,” she said. For this reason, Ms. Stein asked travelers to take out insurance that offers a “termination for any reason” function.