Europe travel in summer 2021: What you should know – CNET

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As Americans continue to get their COVID-19 shots and the guidance for fully vaccinated people changes accordingly, some may be itching to travel after more than a year spent at home. On May 19, travel to Europe was put on the table when the European Union voted to ease COVID-19 restrictions for travelers from “COVID-19-safe” countries, as well as vaccinated foreigners from not-so-safe nations — the US included. 

The specifics for nonessential travel to Europe are still rolling out, and it’s important to note that the new traveling privileges will only apply to Americans who are vaccinated with the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Being fully vaccinated means two weeks have passed since you’ve received both doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two weeks since your one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

For those who are fully vaccinated and looking forward to Europe, we made a list of a few questions you’ll want answered before crossing the Atlantic.

This story has been updated with new information. 

Where can I travel in Europe if I’m vaccinated?

The European Union is made up of 27 countries, and all of them will open borders to vaccinated Americans once the new criteria is formally accepted by the countries. Each individual country in the EU will set its own requirements for travel. Italy accepts American travelers who arrive on a COVID-tested flight or agree to quarantine, while Ireland and Greece accept travelers with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Spain opened to vaccinated tourists on June 7, and France opens to vaccinated travelers on June 9. 

Americans are also currently allowed to travel to the UK, which formally split from the European Union last year, though leisure travel is still discouraged and will require testing and quarantine, regardless of vaccination status. 

More countries in Europe plan to reopen throughout the summer. To see if the country you’re interested in visiting is currently accepting vaccinated tourists from the US, use this page from the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Can I go to Europe if I’m not vaccinated? 

People who are not vaccinated may travel to some countries, as long as they provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test and adhere to the country’s quarantine and COVID-19 regulations, but the newest EU travel rules will only apply to Americans who have proof of vaccination. In general, the CDC advises against travel until you are fully vaccinated. 

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If you’re fully vaccinated and decide to travel this summer, you must continue to follow COVID-19 testing regulations, mask rules and other health guidelines put in place by your destination. 


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What about cruises? 

If you want to cruise through Europe, you can take the Norwegian Cruise Line if you’re fully vaccinated and are okay with the cruise line testing you for COVID-19 before boarding. According to the company’s website, the COVID-19 test will be free to guests, and the cruise line may require additional tests throughout the journey. The current regulations will be in place for cruises that sail up to Oct. 31, 2021, or until no longer necessary. 

Other cruise lines are gearing up by setting COVID-19 vaccine requirements for passengers. Celebrity Cruises, Azamara, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea, Victory Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Oceania and other cruise lines will require passengers be fully vaccinated before boarding this summer. 

Is it safe to travel right now?

If you’re vaccinated, yes, for the most part. You should weigh your personal risks and consider who in your household may be most affected. Those who are immunocompromised are not as protected when vaccinated, for example, and no vaccine is 100% effective. Additionally, children under age 12 can’t get vaccinated yet.

According to the CDC, all air passengers returning to the US from another country must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before returning, and then test once more three to five days after returning home. Before traveling, you should consider the current prevalence of COVID-19 in your chosen country.

How will I prove I’m vaccinated?

As of now, the only way for an American to prove vaccination to an airline or anyone asking is to display the card you received after getting your COVID-19 vaccine, which carries the CDC logo and all appropriate information. You also may have been emailed or texted your proof of vaccination. 

The EU’s Digital COVID Certificate will be operational in all EU Member States by July 1, and is already operating in seven countries as of June 1, The New York Times reported. The EU’s certificate provides digital or paper proof via QR code that a person has either recovered from COVID-19, is vaccinated against COVID-19 or has recently received a negative COVID-19 test. Although the free certificate only applies to EU citizens, it may become available to citizens outside the EU in the future, The Times reported. 

COVID-19 “passports” are an evolving concept, but will likely be necessary for European travel this summer, likely in app form. Check out this guide to COVID-19 passports to learn more about their future.  


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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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