Europe is starting to reopen its countries to tourists. What does this mean for Americans?

TL;DR (4-minute read)

  1. After being recognized as the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic and after slowly rolling out Covid-19 vaccines, European countries are finally starting to see economic progress in their small businesses. Due to the decreasing Covid-19 cases, European countries are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel where they have the opportunity to open up their border to tourists around the world to revitalize the disrupted economy caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  2. Although the country to country regulations differ, there is one similar regulation that all European countries seem to possess when discussing the reopening of its borders to nonessential travel: vaccine proof. If an American is vaccinated, he/she has the option to file for travel into Europe, but whether he/she has to self-isolate depends on the European country. 
  3. Meanwhile, the United States’ borders are still closed due to the ongoing Covid-19 spread. However, President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are expected to discuss the possibility of US-UK travel regulations, which may grant Americans the possibility of travelling to Europe for nonessential reasons. 

For the first time since March 2020, the European Union’s 27 countries are slowly reopening from Covid-induced restrictions, allowing tourists from around the world to visit Europe’s multitude of tourist locations, beaches, and cultural treasures. Although this means that Americans are now welcome to visit Europe, under certain circumstances, the welcoming is not reciprocal as the United States’ borders remain closed off to Europeans. 

Key Items to Consider:

  1. A brief overview of Europe’s battle against COVID-19
  2. Each countries’ rules and regulations for reopening
  3. How this can affect Americans

1: A Brief Overview of Europe’s Battle Against Covid-19

The timeline begins March 13th, 2020, when the number of new cases in Europe exceeds the number of new cases in China, characterizing Europe as the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, and as the worldwide Covid-19 case numbers grow exponentially each day, Europe began to place Covid-induced regulations which all center around “social distancing,” a non-pharmaceutical approach to halting the spread of the virus. As many other countries followed suit, the world began to experience widespread economic disasters, mainly small businesses and restaurants which relied on in-person sales to keep the business running, resulting in 2.6 million workers in the EU (ages 15 to 64) losing their jobs over this period. In fact, the French economy contracted by 5.9 percent in Q1-2020, compared to the previous quarter, and by 13.7 percent in Q2-2020.

EU's COVID Travel Certificate Is Now Available | Travel + Leisure
Despite vaccine rollout around the world, airline companies still require all tourists to wear masks (Getty Images)

However, this all began to slow down and return back to normal after several Covid-19 vaccines were released to the public. Although Europe’s vaccine rollout was characterized as “unacceptably slow,” service providers are confident that a thaw in the economy is coming. At Stihl Group, a manufacturer of chainsaws based in southwest Germany, revenue increased by almost 17% last year to around 4.6 billion euros, equivalent to $5.58 billion. As of June 6th, 2021, 62.57% of the United Kingdom is vaccinated.  With the vaccine halting the spread of the virus, European countries see the need to revitalize their economies, and by opening up their borders to the rest of the world, Europe’s COVID-19 financial crisis may end. 

2: Each Countries’ Rules and Regulations for Reopening

France: If an American wants to enter European borders, he/she must produce official proof of vaccination of one of the four EU-approved vaccines: Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. French border opens this Wednesday, June 6th, which allows Americans to visit many of France’s cultural icons such as the Eiffel Tower. 

Greece: Greece, a tourism reliant country, opened up its borders to Americans back in April, and now, China and 21 other countries, allowing people from around the world to visit for nonessential travel. In order to be let into Greece, one must provide a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test and fill in a passenger locator form on their plans in Greece.

A map showing which European the magnitude of COVID-19 cases in each European country (European Center for Disease Prevention and Control)

Italy: Another highly tourism reliant country, Italy, characterizes Americans as its second biggest foreign tourist group. It opened up its border mid-May, but in order to be allowed into the country, tourists must self-isolate themselves for 10 days unless they arrive on “Covid-tested flights,” which are flights where passengers are tested before and after.

Britain: Although Britain exhibits very few tourists from America, it still has its own system to ensure safety. It has a “traffic light” system where each country is characterized by its Covid-19 risk; for example, the United States is marked “amber,” which means that American tourists wishing to enter Britain for nonessential reasons must quarantine themselves for 10 days. 

3: How This Can Affect Americans

President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are expected to work together to lift travel regulations between the two countries in the upcoming days of this week. They are releasing a new task force to compare the safety regulations and Covid-19 data amongst the two countries to provide the most safe and efficient plan to regulate travel between the United States and the United Kingdom. Although the United States’ actions are not crystal clear yet, as President Biden opens up the businesses in the United States, the opening of the U.S borders to European countries is in the near future. Therefore, it can be expected that the world may soon be returning back to normal. 

Joe Biden (left) and Boris Johnson (right) (CNN)


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