After three long months of quarantine, shelter-in-place, lockdown and travel restrictions – plus some other choice words in Italian, German, French and other languages we probably can’t print here – Europe is finally reopening its borders for the lucrative summer travel season.
Except the continent isn’t exactly rolling out the welcome mat for one of its biggest constituents.
Tourism to Europe is set to begin on July 1, if not sooner for some European countries, just as summer starts to heat up. Restrictions will be lifted for border countries in the European Union, as well as the designated ‘Schengen Agreement’ areas.
Schengen countries are those European nations with no internal border controls, essentially allowing free movement between countries. Four countries – Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechenstein – are in the Schengen Area but are not EU member states: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechenstein. Three microstates are also included in the Schengen Agreement – Monaco, Vatican City and San Marino.
But because of its rate of coronavirus infections, the United States and parts of Asia, Latin America and the Middle East won’t be able to send tourists to Europe just yet.
“The EU travel restriction is based on residence, not nationality,” says a spokesperson for the European Commission in Brussels. “Similarly, decisions on lifting travel restrictions would also concern non-EU nationals residing in a specific country. … Given that the health situation in certain third countries remains critical, the Commission does not propose a general lifting of the travel restriction at this stage,” the document states.”
“Given the U.S. currently has an average of about 345 active cases of coronavirus infections per 100,000 citizens, the chances are high that travelers from the U.S. will only be able to travel to the Schengen zone at a later date,” estimates Granit Sadiku, a researcher at SchengenVisaInfo.
He says as EU countries reopen land borders to fellow Europeans, they are applying infection rates lower than 15 per 100,000 citizens. And with 14 states in the U.S. seeing rising numbers after reopening, it’s not helping America’s case in the near term.
Here is what residents in the U.S. are facing – Does the country have a similar or better epidemiological situation as the average in the EU+ area with regard to the number of new Covid-19 infections, the trend in new infections, and the health response to Covid-19 testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment, treatment and reporting?
EU member nations will make their own final determinations on when visitors from the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, Iran and Russia, among other nations, can start visiting Europe again.
Members have the final say on the border measures. Some may go their own way, to an extent. Greece says visitors from everywhere are welcome from June 15 on, though they will have to quarantine upon arrival. Italy is still not accepting U.S. travelers. Spain on Sunday moved its opening up to June 21 but only to European travelers.
“My appeal to all those who travel: Enjoy your summer vacation — but enjoy it with caution and responsibility,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. “In the summer holidays, we want to make it as difficult as possible for the virus to spread again in Europe.”
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