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Whether you enjoy beautiful coasts like Greece’s Caldera, Italy’s Amalfi, Spain’s Ibiza and Majorca, or cultural and classic destinations such as Louvre Museum in France and Brandenburg Gate in Germany, Europe is a diverse destination that one must visit.
Just like other parts of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the European countries hard and forced them to close all of their external borders in order to protect public health by halting the further spread of the Coronavirus within the countries, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
On March 17, 2020, the European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen, together with the President of EU Council Charles Michael, announced that the EU bodies had decided to close the EU’s external borders for non-essential travel to the EU for 30 days, but this lasted until June 30, 2020.
However, as the epidemiological situation inside and outside European countries started to improve, Member States decided to abolish such measures and gradually began to lift the restrictions for EU travellers and several third countries that have been registering low infection rates.
Such lifting of restrictions was further supported by the introduction of the EU Digital COVID-19 Passport, which started being effective on July 1, after the EU Commission considered it to be an efficient way of monitoring the movement of travellers within the EU and Schengen Area countries.
Except for the restrictions imposed against arrivals from outside the 27-nation bloc, the new strains of the virus pushed several EU/Schengen Area countries to close their internal borders and enforce strict restrictions for any arrivals from a Coronavirus high-risk country.
Denmark, Finland, Germany, Portugal, and Spain were just some of the Schengen Area countries that reintroduced internal border checks back in February.
However, since the pandemic situation started to improve, EU citizens were permitted to travel within the block without being subject to strict rules.
Several EU countries have been imposing restrictions on and off, but in general, restriction-free entry is allowed to all EU citizens travelling within the block. Still, it should be kept in mind that to be able to travel freely within the block, one should hold an EU Digital COVID-19 Passport.
As such all holders of the document can travel to other Member/Schengen Associated countries for non-essential purposes without having to undergo stringent restrictions, like additional testing and quarantine requirements.
The EU Digital COVID-19 Passport has been established by the EU Commission and is digital proof that a person has either:
“National authorities are in charge of issuing the certificate. It could, for example, be issued by test centres or health authorities, or directly via an eHealth portal. Information on how to get the certificate should be provided by the national health authorities,” the Commission noted.
In addition, the main features of the certificate are as follows:
Following the European Medicines Agency (EMA) guidelines, until now, the EU Commission has only authorised four different vaccines – BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson – meaning that only persons immunised with one of these vaccines can travel within the EU restriction-free.
>>Netherlands: COVID-19 Vaccines Recognised for Travel
Nonetheless, despite the EU’s announcement, 15 European have decided to recognise the AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India as a valid proof of immunity, the chief scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO) Soumya Swaminathan said.
If planning to travel within the block during summer 2021, a new tool developed by VisaGuide.World helps you to check whether the country you plan to visit recognises the vaccines you have been immunised with.
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Generally, the COVID-19 situation in the EU is stable as most of the countries continue their vaccination campaigns.
According to the latest figures provided by vaccine producers and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), around 500 million vaccine doses have been delivered to the European countries.
Consequently, more than 404.4 million doses have been administered in the EU, suggesting that 66.3 per cent of the adult EU population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. On the other hand, approximately 49.1 per cent have been fully vaccinated.
It should be noted that the Coronavirus situation and the vaccination rate are different in each country in the EU. Thus, it is highly suggested that you check each country’s COVID-19 situation and measures before planning a trip.
>>Travelling to France This Summer Amid COVID-19 – Everything You Need to Know
As for the negative COVID-19 test result certificates, in general, European countries recognise such a document provided that a PCR test result has been taken within 72 hours of arrival or a rapid antigen test result that is not older than 48 hours at the time of entry.
“The EU Digital COVID Certificate should facilitate free movement inside the EU. It will not be a pre-condition to free movement, which is a fundamental right in the EU,” the Commission noted, indicating that even those who have not been immunised yet can travel freely within the EU.
>>Travelling to Greece in Summer 2021: Here’s What You Need to Know
In May 2021, the EU Commission recommended Member States ease the restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU countries, after considering the improvements in the epidemiological situation and vacation campaigns.
“In June 2020, the Council adopted a recommendation on temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU and the possible lifting of such restrictions. The recommendation was last updated on May 20, 2021, to respond to the ongoing vaccination campaigns by introducing certain waivers for vaccinated persons and easing the criteria for lifting restrictions for third countries,” the Commission’s statement reads.
The proposal of the Commission indicated that all persons from countries with a stable epidemiological situation as well as all persons who have received the recommended vaccine doses should be permitted entry to the EU.
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The Commission has been continuously updating the list of epidemiologically safe non-EU countries that should be permitted entry into the 27-nation bloc for non-essential purposes, and according to the latest update made on July 15, the list includes the following third countries:
Ukraine has been just recently added to the list of third countries that are allowed to enter the EU for travel purposes, while Rwanda and Thailand have been removed from the list.
All of the above-mentioned countries have registered less than 75 COVID-19 infection cases per 100,000 inhabitants during the last 14 days, placing them on the list of safe third countries.
“Following a review under the recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU, the Council updated the list of countries, special administrative regions and other entities and territorial authorities for which travel restrictions should be lifted. In particular, Rwanda and Thailand were removed from the list and Ukraine was added to the list,” the statement of the Council reads.
Still, the recommendation of the Commission does not restrict the EU Member States and Schengen Associated countries from imposing requirements related to the Coronavirus and testing and self-isolation measures. This means that each EU country can decide on its own restrictions, provided that they inform the other Member States and the Commission about their decisions.
>> Germany Permits Entry for Non-Vaccinated Tourists From 25 Third Countries
Even though the Commission has made a call to all EU/Schengen Area countries to allow entry for all persons entering from the list of epidemiologically safe non-EU countries, Finland continues to keep more strict rules.
Only citizens of the following third countries can enter Finland restriction-free:
Similarly, Estonia does not allow entry to all 23 third countries placed on the EU’s safe list. Currently, only nationals of the following third countries can enter Estonia without restrictions:
Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Ukraine, and the United States.
It is highly suggested that everyone who plans to travel within the block this summer purchases extended travel insurance that covers pandemic and epidemic situations to make sure that in case their trip gets cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation, a considerable amount of their spendings can be saved.
Before purchasing the travel insurance for European/Schengen Area countries, it is advised that everyone checks if it includes low deductibles for expenses and medical benefits.
Travel insurance protection can be purchased at a very reasonable price from MondialCare, AXA Assistance or Europ Assistance.
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