International travel during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, but conditions are finally improving. Many Americans are now vaccinated against COVID-19. The latest CDC reporting indicates 50.9% of the U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose and more than 41% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated.
Many international destinations are planning for an uptick in tourism – including Europe. Unfortunately, there remains no consistency in the rules in effect across the pond. With Europe opening, many have been hoping since May that the United States will reciprocate and eliminate at least some of the COVID-19 international travel restrictions.
The EU Commission’s overall recommendation is that tourists from countries with low infection rates be allowed to enter if they are fully vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine. This is reflected in some recent developments from European countries. For example:
- Denmark has opened to EU/Schengen countries and plans to open to international tourists later in June.
- France plans to use a “traffic light” system to determine which countries’ residents can visit and what restrictions will apply.
- Malta is open fully to vaccinated travelers.
- The UK plans to use a “traffic light” system that will determine “green-listed” countries, who will need to quarantine, and what testing will be required.
- Portugal is open to EU/Schengen countries and the UK.
- Italy is open to those from the UK, the EU, and Israel who are fully vaccinated.
- The Netherlands is open to 15 low-risk countries.
- Greece has been open to the EU, the United States, the UK, and Israel if the travelers are fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test.
In the meantime, the CDC has lowered travel restrictions for more than 100 countries. Further, especially due to upcoming international travel requirements, the United States is considering offering voluntary documentation that would allow U.S. residents to prove vaccination status. However, these vaccine “passports” have been controversial and a spokesperson from DHS noted that there will be “no federal vaccination database or a federal requirement for Americans to provide they’ve been vaccinated . . . . ” The status of these “passports” promises to be an evolving area, considering the privacy concerns that have been raised, such as in New York.
For now, everything is country by country and airline by airline – and everything is subject to change (make sure your airline tickets and hotel reservations are refundable!).
Those planning to travel need to make sure to check with the appropriate consulates before starting to plan. Jackson Lewis attorneys stand ready to assist with any questions you may have.