International Travel

Some European countries are re-opening their borders

Depending on the restrictions in your country or area, many people are looking forward to the ability to travel to different countries on vacation again and with the global rollout of vaccinations against coronavirus, that is once again looking like a very attainable possibility.

In a bid to re-start the very lucrative, and for many countries central, tourism industry, some countries have now began opening their borders. However, access may be dependent on a number of variables depending on the country – from whether you need proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, to what country you are entering from. 

The popular destination, Italy is among those to open its borders again to some visitors. Those from the EU countries, the Schengen travel zone, Australia, Japan and some other countries will be allowed in, however those from countries such as the UK and Brazil are not allowed to travel into Italy due to the emergence of virus variants in said countries. Time Out writes: 

‘New rules also mean that you might be required to provide a negative test result on arrival. If you’re entering the country from within the Schengen area, you will now be asked to provide evidence that you received a negative result in a test administered in the 48 hours before travel (or face quarantine).

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Travelers from Austria and outside the Schengen area will instead be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. All international visitors, from any country, must also fill out this ‘travel declaration form’ before departure. You should also note that Italy has brought in a tiered lockdown system, with the country split into ‘yellow’, ‘orange’ and ‘red’ areas depending on how rampant the virus is. For the moment, most of the country is considered ‘red’, which means bars, restaurants and all other non-essential businesses are closed.’

Greece, was a country campaigning for the use of a digital vaccine pass in order to re-open its tourism industry, on which its economy heavily relies. They now have begun lifting lockdown restrictions to the EU, Schengen member states, the UK and other countries such as Australia, Japan, Israel, Turkey and some more. Those countries that are not in the list may not travel. 

The majority of EU countries are allowing travelers within the EU to travel freely, and a handful of other countries, Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand are also allowed entry at the time of writing this article. This list is evolving and changing depending on rising or falling infection rates. The UK for example, has been taken off of many countries’ ‘entry’ list due to the new strain that evolved from the country last year.  

The EU recently put forward a proposal for vaccine passports In a bid to create a system that will allow tourism to restart in Europe by the summer. The BBC explains: 

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‘The aim of the EU pass is to get travel moving across borders, “without discrimination”, but getting it all organized in a short space of time will be a significant challenge. EU leaders have called for legal and technical work to go ahead “as a matter of urgency” while maintaining restrictions on non-essential travel for the moment. The original plan is for the certificate to be in place for the summer but that deadline could be hard to meet. The certificate, either digital or on paper, will enable anyone vaccinated against Covid, or who has tested negative, or recently recovered from the virus, to travel across all 27 member states.

The EU also wants to include non-EU countries such as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. Key to the digital certificate is a QR code – a machine-readable graphic code made up of black and white squares – that contains personal data and the EU’s Commission says it will be safe and secure. It is working with the World Health Organization to ensure the certificate is recognized beyond Europe. ’

Places like Denmark will use the pass to also allow access to access services within the country, such as hairdressers and restaurants. Sweden is also considering this application. 

Some countries such as Iceland have already opened its borders to vaccinated travellers, so those who have been fully inoculated against COVID-19 (and can prove it) should be able to enter the country. However, before you attempt to travel anywhere, be sure to check the rules and restrictions for both your destination and the country that you are travelling from. You may need to also check the rules for re-entering your home country, whether this is to provide a negative COVID test or quarantine in a hotel or no-restrictions at all. Be aware that the pace of the pandemic has meant that rules are changing rather quickly, so be prepared to adapt to new restrictions and regularly update yourself on the safety guidelines. 

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