Which Doors Are Open in Europe

Travel Blog 2: The Quickening

Just made it through the airport to my gate. I was honestly nervous, the whole time wondering if they would ask more from me (my liver, eye teeth, you never know) but all they needed was my vaccine card. Now I’ll likely have to fill out some more forms. Oh goody.

So let’s talk about details about traveling during a pandemic.

Of course I have decided to unsimplify my life at every turn. My internal monologue usually goes something like this: “Hey, remember that thing you’ve constantly dreamed yourself doing while you’re still young and (most) of your hair still remains on your head? You should do it when half the countries you long to visit don’t want you going there. You know, because of a virus that’s killed close to 4 million people worldwide.”

Backpacking even as small as a portion of the would as Europe during the pandemic will mean dealing with different countries and their varied restrictions on travel. With my current plans to go from France to Spain, then take a plane over to Greece before heading north to Denmark, I’m lucky that most currently maintain lax restrictions for those who are vaccinated, at least in theory. 

Recently, the European Union announced the U.S. has become a Green country for travel, eliminating certain restrictions on travel. No longer will you need to provide a negative PCR test in order to enter France, for example.

I have been using each individual U.S. embassy websites for each European country for my travel guidlelines. I have also been relying on NYTimes reporting to understand where each country is at with lockdown restrictions, but even then things change so fast that it’s hard to keep up to date.

So I’ve done up a little list featuring different country restrictions if you or someone you know wants to travel this summer. This is up to date as far as I know, and I don’t plan to update it going forward, just so you know.

Switzerland has also announced it plans to allow travellers on the 28th, but since it lacks details I didn’t use it on the list.

So let’s take a look at which western European countries are allowing people and which aren’t. Not on this list are countries like North Macedonia, Croatia and Turkey, as I don’t plan on visiting those for my trip, but in case you’re interested, check out the time’s article specifically for U.S. travelers.

France: Tourism 9.6% of country’s GDP in 2019, 36% Vaccinated

France allowed travellers from several foreign nations with declining virus numbers on June 9. Those following the country’s announcement saw it was touch and go there, as there was little information declaring whether the U.S. would be part of the string of countries allowed into France. You still need to be two weeks from your second vaccine shot.

Restrictions are being rolled back, and most restaurants and shops are open at a limited capacity. The curfew has been lifted as of June 20.

Spain: Tourism 11.8% of country’s GDP in 2018, 37% Vaccinated

Spain beat France by two days for allowing vaccinated U.S. travellers to enter the country. All travelers require a vaccine.

You do not need a PCR test to enter, though instead tourists flying into the country need a QR code generated from this website or by downloading the SpTH app in Google Play or App Store. That’s for flying, though since I’m going overland, apparently I will only require my vaccine card. (We’ll see what’s happens when I get there).

Much of the initial lockdown restrictions have been repealed throughout the country’s different regions. It seems like depending on where you go, you will experience different mandates and requirements. Madrid is far more open than 

Italy: Tourism 13.3% of country’s GPD in 2019, 38% Vaccinated

Italy was one of those countries hit hardest during the initial phase of the pandemic. I remember reading the heartbreaking stories of a country that reveres its elderly population losing their fathers and grandfathers daily. I was writing stories about young people studying in Florence who were forced to return home and were quarantined by the U.S. government. And then of course the virus came home, and we no longer had to read about it to know what it felt like to lose family members to COVID.

That’s why Italy’s restrictions are somewhat more harsh than other countries. You need to have a negative PCR test and a vaccine to gain entry, do a test after you enter, and also do a 10-day quarantine, that is unless you take a COVID-tested flight.

Oh, and you also need to sign a form if going overland. 

I don’t plan on going to Italy because of the harsher restrictions, but I included it here in case any of my Italian peeps are peeping their own trek.

Italian officials have also created a color-coded system for determining which areas are free to travel. Red and orange areas are severely limited travel, but currently the country is relatively safe, with only yellow and white zones.

As most of the country is in a yellow zone, there are restrictions like a midnight curfew and mask requirements.

Denmark: Tourism 8.2% of country’s GPD in 2019, 26% Vaccinated

Compared to its other nordic brethren, Denmark said starting June 5 they are allowed fully vaccinated travelers from certain other countries to enter, including the U.S. Arriving after two weeks since your second vaccine shot means you don’t have to quarantine either.

Denmark and Greece bear some of the easiest entry restrictions, at least on paper. Time will tell whether that’s true or not. Once I try and gain entry in person.

Greece: Tourism 21.2% (Jeezus, over a fifth) of country’s GPD in 2019, 35% Vaccinated

Entry into Greece will require proof of being two weeks past your second dose, a negative PCR test taken in the past three days or proof of recovery in the past nine months. Travellers also have to complete a passenger locator form.

Greece heavily relies on tourism for its still-struggling economy. It’s no wonder that they were one of the first countries that tried to ease restrictions. Infections are down in the country from when they peaked in April. Reuters estimates just over 35% of the population is vaccinated, and at the current rate it will take close to a month to reach just 40%. The NYTimes has reported that Greece is also focusing on vaccinated people from the heavily-touristed islands first.

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