As eager travelers have been glued to updates coming out of the EU hoping for entry restrictions to be lifted, it seems as if trends are going in the opposite direction, with only stricter measures being put into place.
Eight European nations have recently updated their entry requirements this week, imposing additional rules and entry requirements, like mandatory PCR tests.
The tightening of restrictions is not just for high-risk visitors from third-party countries like the USA, these are also for neighboring countries that had previously been allowed unrestricted access since borders started reopening.
With the sudden surge in cases happening all over Europe many countries are increasing the layers of entry rules, instead of lifting them as currently banned and impatient travelers watch in vain.
This does not come as good news for American travelers, who have been banned from entering the EU for tourism since March. Hopeful visitors have been watching the gradual reopening of the EU to fellow nations in June, and then to select third-party nations in July, but now that progress is slowing reversing.
Some Americans have been trying to find ‘loopholes’ through other European countries like Malta or Croatia in order to gain access into the EU, but these toughening restrictions are making it even harder to accomplish.
The European Union initially suggested a list of 15 nations to be accepted and allowed to travel to EU nations as of July 1st, stating the list would be reviewed every two weeks. After completing two reviews, the list has now shrunken in size to 11 nations, with fear it will dwindle down again on the next review. Algeria, Montenegro, Morocco and Serbia have already been removed from the original list.
Italy announced on August 12th that effective immediately it will be imposing new testing requirements for 4 nations. For the purpose of containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, to people who have stayed or transited through in the previous fourteen days, will be required to bring a negative PCR test within 72 hours of entry, or undergo a test upon arrival and isolate to await results.
This is in addition to the new 14-day quarantine requirement Italy slapped on visitors from Romania and Bulgaria on July 28.
Greece is also joining the list of European countries tightening restrictions.
Effective August 17 2020 until at least August 31 2020, all passengers arriving from Belgium, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Spain or Sweden must have a medical certificate with a negative PCR test result issued at most 72 hours before arrival. The certificate must be in English.
Greece also imposed PCR testing requirements on travelers from Romania and Bulgaria on July 28th, as well as Malta on August 12th.
Earlier this month Norway had a list of ‘Green’ countries on its travel advisory for citizens leaving the country, however the government has just removed all ‘Green’ countries and replaced them all with a ‘Yellow’ advisory, citing a rise in cases as the reason.
As of Aug 13, Norway is now requiring a 10-day quarantine for any arrivals (nationals or tourists) coming from Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Iceland, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic.
On July 10th, the United Kingdom created a list of 60 ‘safe’ travel destinations where arrivals did not have to quarantine upon entering the UK, as long as they were coming from those countries. Since creating the list, the UK has had to remove many countries, with the biggest elimination being Spain on July 26th.
The UK has also removed Luxembourg on July 31st, and Andorra, Bahamas, and Belgium on August 8th. A recent post on the Guardian suggests that France, Malta and The Netherlands might be the next removals from the list.
Breaking since publishing: The UK just updated they WILL in fact be removing 6 more countries as of August 15th:
- the Netherlands
- Turks and Caicos Islands
France is currently seeing their highest daily cases since the lockdown in March, which has measures at the border under pressure.
While non-essential travel from countries outside the EU is still banned, France has now doubled its list of “high-risk” countries which require travelers to take a PCR coronavirus test to cross into its borders. The list of countries now sits at 32 nations that require testing, even if it is French nationals returning home, and in some cases even in transit.
On August 8, Germany added areas of Romania, Spain and Bulgaria to their (huge!) list of high-risk countries, meaning any traveler entering from these regions must bring a negative PCR test with them, or face mandatory testing on arrival.
Although Ireland already has a mandatory 14-day quarantine in place for most arrvials, they’re looking to restrict border control even further as reports of travelers from high-risk areas, like the USA, are not abiding by the rules.
Steven Donnelly, the Minister of Health, tweeted: “Many are asking about travel/tourists coming into Ireland from countries with high Covid rates. My Dept is preparing options for Gov on how to restrict non-essential travel from third countries (outside EU/UK) with high rates of Covid. Am concerned about high rates in some places.”
Reports out of Serbia on August 13 suggest they will be soon implementing a required PCR test and/or 14-day quarantine measures for arrivals. Since reopening on May 22, Serbia has been allowing ALL nations in with no restrictions whatsoever.
While that might be a great option for travelers who are banned from most other nations, Serbia has now seen its own citizens being locked out of countries, especially within the EU, due to their lenient entry rules.
With restrictions starting to tighten all across Europe, any traveler should be ultra-careful when making travel plans, including contacting local consulates, checking with airlines, and reviewing all entry requirements multiple times before embarking.