Travel News

Europe To Stay “Closed” A Little Longer – Even Longer for Americans, Possibly

Written by Charlie

Europe is keeping their external borders closed for a little while longer – but, it could be even longer than that for Americans. Find out the new information on travel to Europe for the summer.

Ok, there is definitely frustration on how the European Commission handled this but let’s hit the top story first – member states of the European Union has decided to keep the external borders closed until at least July 1. But, that’s just the beginning as there is much more to this story.

Europe’s External Borders Staying Closed – For Now

Originally, the closure of Europe’s external borders was to have reopened May 15, then June 15. Now, just 4 days shy of that anticipated opening of the external borders, member states of the European Union have crushed a lot of hopes for summer travel from abroad as that reopening date is kicked to at least July 1.

Don’t forget to check this tool to see updated information on where you can travel!

What Does This Mean for Travel To Europe Now?

Within the EU

Starting June 15, the internal borders throughout Europe will open to other EU countries. This was something strongly encouraged by the Commission today and something that was quite a bit underway in many EU countries. This means that people within the European Union already should be able to move freely about within the EU.

For people in these countries, it could still mean that summer travel is very much a great possibility for them. Of course, the neighboring countries they visit may still have restrictions placed on them, based on their origination, that may include testing or similar but they should be good to go.

From Outside the EU

Now we get to the other part and something that most of the readers here would be included in. For people traveling from outside the EU to Europe (especially from America), the EU is planning on beginning to lift restrictions and controls as of July 1. This does not mean you can book a ticket to Europe for July 2 as it will be based on several factors for people originating in non-EU countries.

Here is what the Commission has to say (and here is their criteria they have laid out for evaluating countries for entry to the EU):

  • Objective criteria: The decision to lift restrictions for a specific country should be based on the epidemiological situation and coronavirus response in that country, the ability to apply containment measures during travel, and whether or not that country has lifted travel restrictions towards the EU. Restrictions should be lifted first with countries whose epidemiological situation is similar to the EU average and where sufficient capabilities to deal with the virus are in place. Restrictions should remain in place for countries whose situation is worse than in the EU. The Commission proposes a detailed checklist to help Member States reach a common assessment. Decisions on lifting travel restrictions would concern non-EU nationals residing in a specific country (not its nationals).
  • Common and coordinated approach: The Commission proposes a coordination mechanism whereby it would support Member States and Schengen Associated States at technical level and facilitate the preparation of a list of countries for which travel restrictions could be lifted. Decisions on lifting restrictions should then be prepared with Member States under the EU’s integrated political crisis response mechanism. Member States should adopt such decisions in a coordinated manner and ensure uniform application across the EU. This will be a dynamic process and the integrated political crisis response mechanism would need to coordinate further updates.
  • Flexibility: It will be possible to reintroduce travel restrictions for a specific country if the criteria are no longer met. In addition, Member States can still refuse entry to a non-EU traveller presenting a threat to public health, even coming from a country for which restrictions were lifted.

There are many that are saying that people from the US may not be welcome at all in Europe this summer – or even longer – based on the criteria and recommendations.

…But, Greece

Apparently, it may have been Greece that put some pressure on the commission to start lifting restrictions post-July 1 at all. After all, Greece has already gone all-in on “tourist season” opening this coming Monday, June 15. And, they have made it clear that they are welcoming people from all over – with some early restrictions until July 1.

The problem is that, until early July, there are no direct flights from the US to Greece. This means that people that would want to visit Greece would have to go through another European country or (maybe an even better option) fly Turkish and transit through Turkey. But, if they transit through an EU country, the airline may not let them get on the plane from the US in the first place. Or, the country may not let them enter the EU when they arrive.

However, Greece is going ahead with a big welcome weekend to kick off tourist season and they really want it to be known that tourists are welcome. But, will that include Americans? We will find out more this weekend.

Frustrated? Yes, I Know!

Last week the European Commission voted on extending the external border closure yet they waited until late yesterday/today – a mere 4 days before the closure was to expire – to announce it. I realize they may have been trying to compromise with the dissenting votes (likely both Italy and Greece) but this is what they did last month as well.

I know there are many people – not even tourists but family members – that had been ready to enter Europe next week. Now, they have to reshuffle their plans and figure out what they can do since the external borders will stay closed. The EU knew they were going to do it but they waited one week before announcing it. Not only that, but their statement on reopening it makes it clear that they don’t want anyone from any country to feel comfortable planning travel just yet.

Hey, I’m an American and I know my country is having more outbreaks and I totally get that this is a decision that EU member states have every right to make. But, I just wish they would be a little more clear and forthcoming in their announcements – especially when they knew so much in advance what they were going to do.

Bottom Line

The external borders to the EU will remain closed until July 1 with similar exceptions to before. After July 1, there will be a slow move to allow more countries to access Europe again – but it is unknown which ones and when. Also, it is pretty clear that many EU countries would rather not have people traveling from the US at all for a while.

While I totally get that and understand that, if this is something they want, I wish they would just come out and say that Americans cannot visit Europe until October 1, for example. Instead, this constant pushing of the dates at the last minute (even when it was known a week ahead of time) is causing many people who had plans to visit family, etc to be left wondering what is going on.

If you had been planning on going to Europe this summer, will these new announcements and changes cause you to skip this year? Or will you wait for the last minute?

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

30 Comments

  • Charlie you think I should cancel? I was planning on coming mid July. Some other reports are saying that member states can make their own rules with entering and from where. Maybe Greece keeps the June 15th date? It still has not been changed on the US embassy’s site and as of now they are still saying Americans can enter on June 15th. There are also direct NY to Rome flights as of right now starting on June 16th. Perhaps states will go their own way?

    • Hey, Constantine – Unless you need the miles/cash/vouchers soon, I would wait a little bit. We will find out more this weekend since the PM is doing a big tourism kickoff in Santorini for June 15th. I think each country will do their own thing and I seriously do not think Greece will back off what they have been advertising. They need tourists for sure.
      I will know more next week – I am heading for the US on Monday and back at the end of the week. I will see if they require my residence permit as permission for entering the EU then or if just my passport at first glance will be enough.
      Fingers crossed your trip can go on as planned!

      • I’m making a final decision on July 1. If there is nothing for certain, I’m cancelling and spending my money in GA, SC, NC, Napa and the bourbon trail.

        The other problem is even if they open it up to Americans, they could close it just like that based on infection rates, etc.

        I’m not even confident rebooking for 2021. I prefer to to go Greece in the middle of May when the weather is great, kids are in school and the masses are not present.

      • Hey Charlie, we are sitting tight but this is really pushing it. Many have the feeling that it will just keep changing instead of them flat out saying like you said to just come out with a firm statement on it. We don’t want to be in the situation where its a 3 days before the trip and they make another announcement with new dates. Have a great trip to the States and please keep us informed. Massively appreciated.

  • The borders aren’t closed…

    Americans can travel to Ireland and the UK
    Americans can also travel to Portugal (in Schengen zone), which then allows them to travel to other Schengen countries like Netherlands and Italy.

      • Wrong.

        An American can fly from the US to Portugal today with absolutely no quarantine or self isolation. You can go to the beach, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then that American can fly from Portugal to Italy (again with absolutely no quarantine) and continue their vacation around Europe.

        With reference to “self-isolate for 2 weeks”, that self isolation ends upon your departure from that country. So, you can fly to the UK, go into isolation for 24 hours, fly out of the country to an EU country and you are defined as arriving from the UK which exempts you from entry requirements otherwise applied to flights departing from the US 🙂

        The point is that the first line of this blog “Europe is keeping their external borders closed” is utterly and completely false. The external borders are NOT closed.

    • This is good to hear! I’m trying to meet with my fiancé after 3 months of separation. Do you think it would be possible to fly to Italy from the US if I have a layover in the UK first? I don’t mind a 14 day quarantine as long as I make it to Italy.

  • Anyone can still fly to Ireland – and they will spend a very peaceful first 14 days after they arrive. (Or they can then fly immediately to the UK upon landing in Dublin and forego the 14 days of tranquility.)
    However, us Irish can not even transit the USA – even though the USA has far more cases of COVID per million population and also more deaths per million population – thanks, Trump!

  • I’m Swedish living in the US and I don’t understand why you feel that the EU should give some kind of heads up for their decisions when it’s not being done by the US. To my knowledge USA doesn’t have or offer a specific date at which the country plans to open towards EU? Not even tentatively. I’m following it closely since I had to push my own trips out 3 times already, now having bookings for August, November and January with the hope I’ll hit the jackpot with one of them. Just like the Americans have chosen through their vote, each European country to their own best interest for their citizens. I am glad they wait – no matter how long or how that affects my travel/family visits.

    • I only say that because they keep setting dates for lifting it – and in this case, they knew one week earlier but didn’t announce it until four days before it lifts. There will be people at the airports Monday that find out then that they aren’t going to be able to take their trip.
      Plus, in this case, it is a bit of a fractured Union with several countries actually not wanting to keep external borders closed and needing the tourists to come while other countries are insisting on the closure. So it makes it more confusing that way also, given that these are independent nations that are having to operate more as one.
      I hope you are able to make your trips!

    • So, you admit that Merkel/the EU is playing politics with this and it is not about health then right?

  • Charlie, thanks for the continuing updates and information. This really is frustrating. Hopefully Greece does open up as planned. We are hoping we will be able to travel there in September, already missed a few trips over. Hopefully it’s smooth sailing, err…flying, for you next week!

  • England is NOT open as of yet to Americans there is hope that come July 1st regular tourist will be allowed without a quarantine but no one knows as of yet. And no once can not slide into the EU and then travel. Gezz

    • Simply false.

      The only restrictions on Americans entering UK or Ireland is a 14 day quarantine (which can be ended early by departing the country, of course). They are absolutely open to American tourists.

      Likewise, once in the UK or Ireland, you can visit EU Schengen countries like Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, etc, which accept flights from other EU countries (like UK/Ireland). The author of this site fails to state these simple facts that Americans can travel freely into EU countries.

      • So it’s possible to fly from the US to the UK (with a s short layover) and then Italy? Will I be allowed in Italy with my US passport even though I’ve come from the US? I’m hearing mixed things..

  • My flight to Greece is scheduled for July 9th and im really hoping everything works out i have family i havent visited for a while and i honestly would rather be there then America right now:)

        • Huh? Which airport are you flying out of from the States? I am asking about your departure not your return.. and if you are flying Lufthansa I guess you have a layover?

  • The problem with wishing they would just say something like Americans won’t be able to visit the EU until Oct 1 is that it is inherently no better than them saying that Americans might be able to visit starting July 1. The dates are completely random and have no connection to anything else happening on the ground. Who’s to say that the US will be well past its peak and that the EU could be swamped by a nasty second wave by October? Anything can happen between now and then, or any other date one can imagine. The best we can hope for is learning to live with the virus while trying to save as much of the tourist economy in each of these countries as we can.

  • “ Hey, I’m an American and I know my country is having more outbreaks and I totally get that this is a decision that EU member states have every right to make. But, I just wish they would be a little more clear and forthcoming in their announcements – especially when they knew so much in advance what they were going to do.”

    Hey, I’m American … tell me again, what are the US government plans and rules for Europeans being allowed to visit the US?

  • Any issues entering Europe from the US as a dual citizen? Can they deny me entry just because I’m coming from the US?

    • No, they cannot deny you if you hold an EU passport. All people with EU passports have not been shut out but what your final destination country may do may be handled differently (such as a possible quarantine/mandatory testing/etc).

  • According to everything I read Portugal is allowing Americans. I have a flight to Portugal after July 1st. No transit through another country. I had booked plans for 2 months there. I do not plan to go to any other country. By airline has not cancelled my flight. I should be fine according to everything I read. Is that not true?

    • The issue will be an EU wide ban. Portugal, Italy and Greece among others want US to come, but as we saw this weekend, the EU can make a bloc-wide ban, which would change that. That is our concern. That a few days before the trip the EU comes out again and says “ban extended another 15 days”. We are in the same boat and are making alternative plans in case this happens. It’s political in some respects because the US has lower death rates per Capita than several EU countries, yet those countries are still allowed in. This fact negates the “based in science” narrative.

    • Anthony, if you go to Portugal, please post your experience. We have tickets to Lisbon for July 16; flying through Amsterdam on KLM. I would be interested in hearing the first-hand report.

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