The information in this article is correct as of 29/04/21 and sourced from Reuters. However, it will not be updated, so do check government guidelines for up-to-date figures and restrictions.
With at least 19% of EU nationals having received the vaccine, and as many as 50% in some countries, hopes for a summer in Europe are on the rise again. Many European countries rely heavily on tourism, and reopening the borders to holidaymakers in time for summer would constitute a vital way to get their economy back on track. Though most continue to enforce quarantine rules and essential travel restrictions, here is everything we know about some of Europe’s top destinations and their plans for summer travel. The situation is changing every-day, so always consult your own and your destination’s government guidance before making a booking.
Following an announcement on the 16th of April, Greek authorities are planning to lift quarantine restrictions on in-coming flights to anywhere in Greece from 14th of May, provided visitors are coming from an EU country, Israel, Serbia, UAE, UK or US. Visitors must provide evidence either of being fully vaccinated (at least 2 weeks prior) or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival. Children under the age of 10 are exempt, and the certificates must be written in English and identify the name and passport number of the traveller.
The government has also promised a vaccination campaign in all Greek islands with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, making them as safe as possible for tourists and making Greece as attractive a tourist destination as possible for international travellers. Seeing as Greece is actively seeking tourists to visit this summer, not to mention its fame as one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in the world, a visit to Greece may be an excellent option for those desperate to go abroad in summer 2021!
Spain is another country that relies heavily on summer tourism, but with cases still high and fears of another wave, the government are cautious about reopening the borders. January was Spain’s highest month for cases, and though numbers are generally falling, spikes in Easter have raised concerns of a fourth wave. With Spain’s vaccination rate struggling to meet the pace of rising infections, it is hard to tell how Spanish restrictions might change throughout summer, making it an unreliable holiday destination at the moment.
That being said, Spain is currently allowing travellers from the EU, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore and Thailand to enter without quarantine, but must show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival and fill out an FCS Health Control Form.
Spain is also an active proponent of the Digital Green Certificate plan – a technology that will allow travellers to bring up their Covid status when crossing borders via a QR code. By providing immediate data on the traveller’s vaccine status, last negative PCR test results or proof of recovery from the disease, travel for participating countries into Spain should be fairly straight-forward by summer.
Croatia currently has high Covid levels of 377.5 out of 100,000 people (the neighbouring average is somewhere around the 200 out of 100,000 mark). Nevertheless, with the vaccine rollout well underway, the easter spike may soon level out. Croatia currently has relatively low restrictions in place, meaning those displaying evidence of a negative PCR or rapid antigen test taken within 48 hours before arrival are able to enter without quarantine – seemingly from any country except South Africa, Zanzibar and Brazil. The same goes for those with two vaccine doses taken at least 15 days prior to arrival, or a Covid recovery certificate issued at least 12 days prior and at most 180 days prior to arrival.
For those keen for a city break in Copenhagen, Denmark maybe on the cards this summer. With cases down to just 89.4 per 100,000, Denmark currently has some of the lowest numbers in Europe. Vaccination rates are also climbing rapidly, with 13.9% of the country vaccinated. These numbers are hugely promising for a potential summer tourism, yet the government are being particularly careful to not open the borders too early. Denmark is highly keen on the vaccine passport scheme. Lars Ramme Nielsen, from the Chamber of Commerce stated: “If we do nothing, if we sit and wait, nothing will happen. If you start when Covid-19 has left society, it will be too late. With this project [a vaccine passport], we’re very positive we will have a summer of joy, of football, or music. So better get started sooner, now, to plan”.
With these words, we can hopefully expect Denmark to fully participate in an EU-wide vaccine passport rollout, meaning border crossings for any that have received a vaccine by summer. For those still waiting for the vaccine by then, it remains to be seen how Denmark will loosen their restrictions.
Currently, only residents from Germany, Sweden or family members of Danish nationals may enter, and a negative PCR or rapid antigen test (taken within 72 hours prior) must be shown at the border.
Britain had a rocky year, with some of the highest rates in Europe in the early part of 2021. However, thanks to an ambitious vaccine rollout scheme, it has managed to reduce its numbers to just 26 infections per 100,000 people – just 4% of its peak in January. Because of the encouraging numbers, the government is keen to start the roadmap out of lockdown, opening up industry and domestic travel by 26th April (with variations between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
May 17th has been mentioned as a potential date for international travel to start up again, with in-coming nations being designated a three-colour scheme: green, amber or red. Those from green lit countries will need to take a PCR test, but will otherwise be free to enter. Amber nations will be free to enter, but will have to quarantine, and red will have to stay in a designated “quarantine hotel” at their own expense. The distribution of nations into each list will be dependent on their status in May.
Italian infections have been falling steadily since early April, currently at 162 per 100,000. Equally, 13.2% of the population have been fully vaccinated. Since 7th of April, visitors from most countries are able to enter without the need for proof of essential travel, so long as they supply a negative PCR or rapid antigen test, taken 48 hours before entry to Italy. However, they must quarantine for 5 days. Hopefully, this quarantine will lift by summer, but Italy is still holding off officially declaring their summer border policy.
Germany is currently experiencing an Easter wave of infections, hitting roughly 79% of the previous peak in December at 171 infections per 100,000 this week. For this reason, the government drastically scaled back its reopening programme, and those who enter the country must display a negative PCR test, as well as quarantine for 10-14 days. Exemptions apply to those the government deems do not constitute risk areas – published in a weekly changing list. This week, Finland, Ireland, Barbados and the UK were deemed not to be of risk, and therefore exempt from restrictions (though this may change at any moment).
Our final destination on this list is France, currently at 348 infections per 100,000 (61% of November peak). 13% of the population have received two doses of the vaccine and numbers may have hit their peak for the current Easter wave. Travellers are currently required to provide evidence of a negative test taken within 72 hours of arrival and fill out a sworn statement.
If you are arriving from the EU, you do not have to isolate. If you are arriving from Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea or the UK, you must isolate for 7 days. Those from any other country are not allowed into France at this moment. Since cases are still relatively high in France, it is not recommended that travellers visit, at least until cases drop significantly lower.