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EU recommends tighter restrictions on American tourists as US removed from Covid safe travel list

The EU removed the US and five other countries from its travel safe list on Monday, meaning visitors, particularly those not vaccinated against Covid-19, could face tighter restrictions on travel to Europe. Individual member states can decide how to act.

EU recommends tighter restrictions on American tourists as US removed from Covid safe travel list
Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

The European Council announced on Monday that five countries and one territory have been removed from its recommended safe list of countries.

The countries and territories that were removed as of August 30th were Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia and the United States of America.

The latest move by the EU is however non-binding and individual member states are free to set their own border restrictions and quarantine rules when it comes to Covid, as they have done since the start of the pandemic.

Why has the US been removed?

The move follows a steep rise in Covid rates in both the US and Israel sparked by the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.

The EU Council bases its decision on “the epidemiological situation and overall response to COVID-19, as well as the reliability of the available information and data sources.”

It also takes into account reciprocity, in other words how countries treat travellers from EU countries.

In recent weeks there has been heightened pressure to remove the US from the list, not only due to rising Covid rates but also because the US still bars non-essential travel from European countries.

What does this mean in reality?

As stated above the EU’s list safe list for non-essential travel is non-binding meaning EU member states as well as Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland are free to set their own rules for travel.

European countries may follow the EU’s lead and tighten restrictions such as quarantine measures or they could simply ignore the recommendation. Most EU countries reopened their border to travel from the US earlier in the summer in a bid to boost their tourism industry, but that was at a time when Covid rates in the US had plummeted.

Readers are recommended to keep a close eye on The Local’s individual country websites where any changes in travel rules will be reported on as soon as they are announced.

What does this mean for American travellers?

For vaccinated Americans nothing much should change, but it depends on where you’re travelling to as countries are allowed to set their own rules. 

The EU recommends that anyone vaccinated should be allowed to travel to Europe as long as they are vaccinated with an EU or WHO approved vaccine and had the last recommended dose at least 14 days before travel, as well as so-called “essential travellers” (see below) and all travellers from countries on the safe list, which includes the likes of Australia, New Zealand and China.

So the big change for travellers from the US to Europe – if countries follow up on the new recommendation – would be those who are not vaccinated and are travelling for “non-essential” reasons. But not all countries have separate rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers.

The EU states that essential travel basically covers EU citizens and their families, EU residents and their families as well as “travellers with an essential function or need”.

It’s also worth pointing out that the US currently advises its citizens against travel to most European countries.

Which countries and territories remain on the list?

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bosnia and Hercegovina
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • New Zealand
  • Qatar
  • Republic of Moldova
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Ukraine
  • China (plus Hong Kong and Macao)

The list is reviewed every two weeks.

Member comments

  1. Important to know if you are traveling to Italy as a non vaccinated US citizen; you will not be able to dine inside. You will need a Green Pass showing you are fully vaccinated to be able to do so. You will also not be permitted to enter a museum or any other public building. And as of September 1st you will not be allowed to travel on interregional trains or buses. They all require the same Green Pass. So if you do happen to be able to get here, there isn’t much you will be able to do.

    1. Heh, so they can “look but don’t touch” or eat in this case?? Good, cause their (anti-vaxx idiots) money isn’t worth another outbreak and preventable deaths; Nine times out of ten they’ll just make a scene at the restaurant anyway, complaining about how the food tastes like garbage (all they’re used to is sugary and salty junk), and then demand to see the manager to try and get out of paying for it. They make good fodder for YT videos but that’s about it, and even then it’s not worth it. Good on Italy and other countries that do the same.

  2. We two Americans are supposed to fly in four days on SAS from San Francisco to Copenhagen, non-stop, for a three week vacation in Denmark. We are fully Pfizer vaccinated more than fourteen days ago. We cannot get anyone, including SAS and the Danish consulate, to tell us if Denmark will let us into its wonderful country. Are we correct to presume Denmark will?

    1. David, according to the US Embassy & Consulate in the Kingdom of Denmark website “Effective June 5, the Danish government announced that fully vaccinated travelers from OECD countries – which includes the United States – may travel to Denmark, including for tourism. Travelers from the United States can enter Denmark if you have been vaccinated with a European Medicines Agency (EMA)-approved vaccine and it has been 14 days or longer since your last vaccine shot. Fully vaccinated travelers from the United States are also exempt from testing and quarantine requirements upon arrival in Denmark. You must present documentation that you are fully vaccinated which includes: your name, your date of birth, what disease you were vaccinated against, the vaccine name, your vaccination status, and the date of vaccination (both first and second dose if your vaccine had more than one dose). ”

      That was last updated August 30 2021, so it’s very recent and if you want to read the whole thing, here’s the website: https://dk.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/security-and-travel-information/covid-19-information/

      Good luck, and I hope you can still make your trip. Goodness knows we all need one right about now.

  3. Why has the US been removed?? “Because half of the country are a bunch of anti-science/vaxx idiots, who believe that taking vitamins, injecting bleach, or the latest fad: taking anti-parasitic medication meant for livestock, will “cure” them of coronavirus.” “They’re also more scared of wearing a mask, than a virus that has killed well over 500,000 people here, and on track to reach a million by the end of the year.” There, I fixed that for you.

    In all seriousness though, OF COURSE the US was going to be either banned or put on a risk list, cause the writing was on the wall; it never left in the first place, so literally no one should be surprised at this point, and the money isn’t worth another outbreak.

    Also, I’m dead serious about people resorting to using livestock medication to try and “cure” coronavirus; it’s called Ivermectin, and it’s typically used to get rid of parasites like roundworms in livestock like cattle, and obviously it’s doing more harm than good, but the misinformation has spread so much here, that some prisons are using it as a “treatment”. Here’s some links to the articles in case you don’t believe me; I wouldn’t blame you since it sounds so insane, and prepare your sanity cause it’s about to be tested with stupid that’s amped up to 11: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cdc-anti-parasite-drug-ivermectin-treat-prevent-covid-19/ (the story about Ivermectin)

    and the story on inmates in Arkansas given Ivermection as “coronavirus treatment”: https://www.npr.org/2021/09/02/1033586429/anti-parasite-drug-covid-19-ivermectin-washington-county-arkansas

  4. Well, this surprised absolutely NO ONE and if anything I’m surprised we (US) ever even left the risk list in the first place; if the news that people and some jails here are trying to use anti-parasitic medication to “treat” coronavirus, isn’t enough cause for concern then I don’t know what is. The medication in question is called Ivermectin, and is used to treat parasites like roundworms in livestock, and of course it’s not going well for people that use it…

    Here’s the story from NPR about how some jails are trying to use this for treating coronavirus: https://www.npr.org/2021/09/02/1033586429/anti-parasite-drug-covid-19-ivermectin-washington-county-arkansas

    and a story from CBS on how the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) are in an uphill battle warning people NOT to use this stuff. Prepare your sanity for a lot of stupid in these stories: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cdc-anti-parasite-drug-ivermectin-treat-prevent-covid-19/

  5. Another important issue that I haven’t seen addressed anywhere is the fact that Covid survivors here in Italy don’t meet the vaccination requirement of some countries, like Canada. That’s because Italy is one of those countries (Switzerland’s another) that’s decided to only give one vaccine shot to Covid survivors, and Canada requires two shots from everybody, whether you’re a Covid survivor or not. Since we survivors here in Italy are not allowed a second shot (I’ve asked my doctor for one and he said he couldn’t), we’re pretty much stuck..!

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Horrible queues’: What Frankfurt airport is really like this summer

A recent survey placed two German airports among the worst in the world this summer for delayed flights. The Local readers told us Frankfurt airport is particularly bad.

'Horrible queues': What Frankfurt airport is really like this summer

It’s well known that flying can be a nightmare at the moment, whether there are delays, cancellations, long queues or lost luggage. 

According to a recent ranking by FlightAware, Germany’s largest airport in Frankfurt saw 45.4 percent of its flights delayed between May 26th and July 19th, while Munich airport had 40.4 percent of flights disrupted. 

We decided to ask The Local readers what their experience of flying to or from these airports has been this summer. 

Around 30 people answered our survey last week – and of those, just over 32 percent said their flight from one of these two German airports had been cancelled. Meanwhile, 60.7 percent of those surveyed said their flight was delayed. 

Missed connections

Frankfurt airport, which is airline giant Lufthansa’s main base, seemed to be the travel hub where people had experienced the most problems. 

The airline has struggled with staff shortages after cutting back its workforce during the pandemic travel restrictions. Around 6,000 flights have been cancelled from Frankfurt this summer. Lufthansa ground crew staff also recently held a strike over pay and conditions. 

Adding to the problem is that many people are off sick in Germany at the moment due to a high number of Covid infections.  

READ ALSO: Why is flying in Germany so expensive and chaotic right now?

Alison Townsend, 49, said: “No problems at Munich but major problems outwards at Frankfurt. Only a 30 minute delay but then hit the 45 minute non-EU passport queue and ridiculous distance between gates.

“I missed my connection so missed boarding my cruise in Athens and had a five-day catch-up to board it after with high hotel costs and expenses. Staffing levels were ok but lines for border control were too long.”

However, Townsend said both airports were “very good in terms of seating and shops plus food outlets”.

Craig, 68, who flew to and from Frankfurt, said: “It was chaos and clueless. No Lufthansa desks were open. And it was the third flight of my scheduled trip to be cancelled.”

Queues at Frankfurt airport in July.

Queues at Frankfurt airport in July. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

Nicolas, 37, flew to Marseille from Frankfurt, and said there were no staff there to tell passengers about their cancelled flight. 

“You feel very lonely in the big airport,” he said. “No one knew the right answer. I travel a lot around the world and I never felt that before.”

Another reader called Anna, 33, said she was put off from flying with Lufthansa after having her travel plans wrecked during recent strike action. Her outbound flight was delayed by 2.5 hours “and I missed the connecting flight”.

“Due to the strike I was left all alone in Munich with a toddler,” she said.

Tom Boon said he experienced lots of problems when flying with Lufthansa from or to Frankfurt. He said his return Lufthansa flight from London was “almost an hour late due to the aircraft not leaving Frankfurt on time to come to collect us in London City”.

Long queues at immigration

Lots of respondents mentioned the issue of waiting in line when arriving at Frankfurt airport. 

Balakrishnan, 41, who flew to Frankfurt from Abu Dhabi in July, said there were problems getting through passport control: “We waited nearly two hours in a long queue to clear immigration.

“Though the queue was too much, only two counters with four immigration officers were opened for non-EU passport holders.”

Paul, 52, flew to Frankfurt Airport at the end of July. He said: “Horrible queues for passport control, two people were there at 7.30am and there were queues of at least 200 people, stretching out of sight down the corridor.”

Source: Statista

Will the problems continue?

At the weekend, Lufthansa board member Christina Foerster told newspapers in the Funke Media group that flight operations were now “stabilised”.

“The low point has passed,” she said. However, Foerster said there were still major issues with staff having to take sick leave. 

Last week it also emerged that hundreds of new temporary employees from abroad, likely to be stationed at Munich, Frankfurt and Nuremberg airports, are set to join teams on the ground later this month. 

READ ALSO: German airports to recruit hundreds of emergency staff ‘in August’

And some readers said it’s not all that bad – even with the current staff shortages. 

Rebecca, 70, flew to Frankfurt airport on July 28th. 

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She said: “Flight arrived early. There was no line at passport control. Baggage arrived on the belt within 30 minutes. Shuttle to Terminal 1 was punctual.”

Steven, 35, said: “Munich had no issues at all, the airport was practically empty around 3pm. No baggage delays, customs did take a few minutes longer than usual. No other problems at all.”

Meanwhile, one reader said his worst experience was actually flying from another German airport – Cologne/Bonn. 

Angad, 28, said: “Security lines that were kilometres long and more than a two hour delayed flight. Fast track security that we paid for did not exist. Horrible, horrible experience.”

Tips and advice

We also asked readers for their suggestions on travelling at the moment. Here’s a summary of what they said:

  • Put a tracking device like an AirTag in checked baggage or only bring hand luggage 
  • Arrive earlier than usual for your flight, and be mindful of leaving time for connecting flights 
  • Wear trainers or comfortable shoes for getting through big airports quickly 
  • Lower your expectations 

Nick, 56, said: “Remain calm, other airports in the world are also going through the same issues.”

Another reader, Fiona, 54, said: “Don’t travel unless you really need to.”

Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out our survey. Although we can’t include all the responses, we do read all of them and really appreciate you taking the time to share your views with us.

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