The wait is almost over for Americans who have been anxiously waiting for COVID-19 restrictions to ease so they can visit Europe.
In what is a significant change, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told The New York Times that the 27 member states of the European Union would “unconditionally” accept Americans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 this summer.
“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines [Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and Pfizer-BioNTech],” von der Leyen said. “This will enable free movement and travel to the European Union [from the U.S.].”
An Improving Situation
Currently, approximately 42 percent of the U.S. population has had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and it is estimated that just over 28 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. With these numbers in mind, von der Leyen told the New York Times that the U.S. is making “huge progress” and noted that country is on track to vaccinate 70 percent of adults by the middle of June.
Resumption of travel will certainly depend “on the epidemiological situation,” von der Leyen said. However, she did add that “the situation is improving in the U.S., as it is, hopefully, also improving in the European Union.”
Despite her comments, uncertainties abound. For instance, von der Leyen did not provide a specific timeline for when the EU will reopen. What’s more, individual EU member states will still be able to enforce stricter rules than the union as a whole, so ease-of-travel may vary from country to country. And finally, as the New York Times article notes, it’s unclear at this point what documentation will be needed for travelers to demonstrate proof of vaccination.
A Reason For Pause
News that vaccinated Americans will soon be able to visit Europe again is welcomed by air carriers suffering significant financial losses due to reduced air travel during the pandemic. It’s also promising for European countries who desperately need U.S. citizens to visit and boost tourism-based economies, an NPR article points out.
The flip side of the coin, however, is that the U.S. State Department warns Americans against traveling to other countries. Indeed, the department recently announced it will begin to update its travel advisories to more closely align with those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That change “will result in a significant increase in the number of countries at Level 4: Do Not Travel, to approximately 80 percent of countries worldwide,” according to the State Department.
For example, that change means the State Department warns Americans not to travel to countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, or even the UK — at least not yet. You can visit the State Department’s website here to learn about travel warnings and COVID-19 conditions in other countries.