As first talked about at the beginning of the month, the time has finally come that the European Commission has removed the US from the travel safe list, in light of Covid-19 infection rates. So, what does this really mean?
The EU Removes the US from the “Safe List”
The EU safe list is made up of countries that meat certain metrics for Covid-19 infections. The US was not the only country that was removed from this list. The follow countries were also removed from the safe list:
- North Macedonia
Israel was a country that has seen a big uptick in positive cases recently, in light of the fact that most of the country either had been vaccinated or recovered from Covid (and an Israeli study shows that those who had Covid have a better immunity against the Delta variant that even the vaccines).
The EU now recommends that American tourists coming to European nations (EU member nations) would need to be tested and quarantined for unvaccinated travelers. They could also move it to ban unvaccinated travelers entirely and continue to test vaccinated travelers. There was some talk that even vaccinated travelers could be banned but this would likely be a phased move after today’s ruling.
What Does This Mean for Americans?
This Would be a Recommendation
First of all, the EU member nations are not required to act on this. This would come from the European Commission which only has the power to make a recommendation. Granted, recommendations of this nature are almost always followed by at least most of the member nations but they do not have to. So, it will remain to see which countries would actually follow through on the recommendation.
Countries Could Form Their Own Rules
Which brings us to point number two – there were already EU member nations that had bucked the trend of the closure to Americans before the EU as a whole was ready to open. They included Greece, Italy, and Spain as well as some other countries on the continent that had never really closed to American tourists in the first place (but which were not great points of transit to EU countries for a long time, either).
So, even if the EU majority does accept the recommendations, that does not mean the country you are visiting will. If you are visiting one of the Mediterranean countries – which, incidentally need tourist dollars more than other countries – chances are pretty good they will go on their own system of data and you could still enter.
I will say that, at least for Greece, I do not think there is any way they will close the borders to Americans. That means that, as I have said for a while, if you are flying to Greece, I highly recommend one of the many non-stop options between the US and Greece to ensure you have no trouble arriving there.
However, tourist season will start slowing down now that September is just about here. With school starting up again, the middle of September would likely be when many countries would consider that tourists would not be coming in droves again. For Greece, there are more restrictions going in place on September 13 for unvaccinated people all over the country – such as no attendance in dining or entertainment venues.
Could Change in Two Weeks
Third is that this list that is considered is one that is considered every two weeks based on the data. So, no reason to worry and cancel your European adventure that takes place in September just yet. Remember that these kinds of bans are part of the current travel space so you just need to be flexible.
But, reciprocity is also what the EU looks at and the US has still not allowed European tourists in to the US in almost 18 months now.
Airlines Would Reimburse
Lastly, if they do ban US visitors and the ban holds for a while, you will still be able to get your money back from the airline or move your travel to another date. Just don’t worry right now – this is something that could happen and if it does, it still doesn’t mean your vacation is ruined.
I would just hold off right now on any kind of prepaid hotel/tourist experience. With even a non-chain hotel, chances are good you could at least get a voucher since this is out of your control but no reason to test that if you don’t have to. I always prefer skipping prepaid options – even before Covid – because I never wanted to be locked in.
The EU Commission has removed the US from the “Safe List” which means that member nations could decide to impose these new restrictions on American visitors or ban them outright. At this point, it is just a recommendation but most of the 27 EU nations do typically follow these recommendations with the exception of the Mediterranean countries.