As Europe’s borders start to reopen for travel from July 1, it will begin by welcoming tourists only from countries with low Covid-19 infection levels. Following a lifting of all internal border checks inside the EU by late June, holidays in Europe will be possible for non-Europeans too.
The travel ban which currently blocks entry to 30 European countries for all non-essential travel will gradually unwind through July. But the EU says only international travelers arriving from low-risk countries, with comparable health and safety measures, will be welcome.
“While we will all have to remain careful, the time has come to make concrete preparations for lifting restrictions with countries whose health situation is similar to the EU’s and for resuming visa operations,” said EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson on Thursday.
If EU members adopt the recommendations, the move will make Europe out-of-bounds to travelers from many countries. At least in the early days.
Europe will form a giant travel bubble. Connected with a network of safe countries overseas. More countries will be added to the list in time, as the EU reopens its borders to an increasing number.
Tourists From Safe Countries Welcome In Europe Travel Bubble
The criteria for countries which get a green light to Europe holidays from July 1 pivot on Covid-19 infection rates. As EU members decide which tourists to allow in, they are being urged to use data from WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention And Control as a guide.
Key considerations in deciding whether holidaymakers from a particular country are welcome will be:
- Does the country have a similar Covid-19 situation as the average in the EU and Schengen countries. Particularly with regards to the number of new Covid-19 cases and trend in new infections.
- The country’s health response to Covid-19 including adequate corona testing and surveillance. Plus contact tracing, containment, treatment and reporting.
EU Will Lift Restrictions On Countries With Matching Covid Spread
The ECDC risk assessment hinges on the number of cases per 100,000 people. As well as the overall trend in infections. For 28 EU and Schengen countries, that number is below 20. “Decreasing trends in disease incidence are observed and sustained in almost all Member States,” it says. The U.K. too is on the downward trend. Poland and Sweden are the only EU countries who have not hit the virus peak. In Sweden the rate is above 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
By contrast, in the U.S., the national average is currently around 350. Which will almost certainly rule out American travelers to Europe in July.
The EU plans to first ease travel curbs with countries where the Covid spread corresponds. The WHO Covid dashboard shows Europe on average has 200 new cases a day; the U.S. 5,200; the Western Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan etc.) -275; Southeast Asia 184; and Africa 884. So this gives an idea of which countries may get the go-ahead first.
Backtracking On The Lifting Of The Travel Ban Will Be Possible
The EU wants a flexible approach to reopening its borders to holidaymakers. If a country’s health situation worsens, the travel ban will return it warns. And citizens of that nation will no longer be welcome.
Furthermore, individual travelers from a country can be denied entry.
“It will be possible to reintroduce travel restrictions for a specific country if the criteria are no longer met,” the guidelines say. “Member States can still refuse entry to a non-EU traveller presenting a threat to public health, even coming from a country for which restrictions were lifted.”
Balkan, Southeastern European Countries First In
The EU recommends members to lift travel restrictions for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia as of July 1. “Given that their epidemiological situation is similar to or better than that of the EU.”