(CNN) – It was too good to last.
As summer saw much of Europe opening up to American visitors, offering them the chance to fulfill block dreams of eating ice cream in Italy or visiting Paris’s art museums, the end of the season brought with it new restrictions and the continent’s doors begin to close.
The news prompted various European countries to update travel restrictions for Americans, while some have completely barred entry for US travelers.
Unsurprisingly, the changes have sparked widespread confusion, particularly for those planning to travel to Europe in the coming months.
Here’s a look at the more stringent rules and what they mean for American travelers.
Can Americans still travel to Europe?
Other countries may soon restrict access to Americans.
Clara Margais / Picture Alliance / Getty Images
Yes They can. Only a small number of countries have so far limited all non-essential arrivals from the United States. Since the EU opinion was issued, Bulgaria, Norway and Sweden are the only ones to restrict all access.
However, although at least one destination, Greece, has ruled out the imposition of new travel limits in the foreseeable future, it’s safe to say that Americans, particularly those unvaccinated, are likely to face further restrictions in the days and weeks to come.
What are the new EU rules?
His advice, however, is not binding. There is no pressure for countries to take this measure and they are free to ignore it if they wish.
This means that there is no general rule covering the continent. Instead, each destination country is free to adopt or ignore the advice according to their preferences.
Given the value of US visitors to European tourism economies, any decision to restrict their arrival is likely to be made with considerable reluctance.
What do the EU rules mean for Americans traveling to Europe?
Much more bureaucracy, uncertainty and research, that’s for sure.
Ultimately it means that traveling to European countries may become more difficult for Americans in the coming weeks, although not necessarily impossible.
As the rules change, it is up to individual travelers to verify their eligibility to travel. Although airlines can also carry out pre-departure checks, they will not need them to sell tickets.
Some countries may keep their doors open, but change requirements such as Covid pre-departure tests, quarantine provisions, or proof of vaccination.
Which countries can Americans visit in Europe?
Croatia is still open to Americans.
DENIS LOVROVIC / AFP via Getty Image
Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain are currently all open to fully vaccinated Americans.
The restrictions in place vary from country to country. Many destinations require travelers to present a negative Covid test upon arrival, while some have both testing and quarantine measures in place for vaccinated visitors.
France currently has no travel restrictions for fully vaccinated Americans, but a negative Covid test carried out no more than 72 hours prior to arrival is required before they can enter Italy. A mandatory 10-day quarantine is set for fully vaccinated US travelers visiting the Netherlands, while those entering Germany must provide a negative Covid test result before they can enter.
Fully vaccinated Americans can visit the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.
However, different test and / or quarantine measures have been implemented in each country.
Is traveling in Europe safe?
No travel during the pandemic is completely free of Covid risks, even for vaccinated travelers, and the best way to stay safe is to stay home and minimize exposure to the virus.
That said, if safety protocols such as mask use, social distancing and hand sanitation are followed, there is no reason why travelers can’t make a safe trip to Europe. Statistically, most Western European countries have lower Covid rates than the United States.
There are still Covid hotspots – Montenegro recently experienced a sharp spike in cases – so it’s worth checking the US Embassy’s travel advice at your destination. Again, it’s a research question.
Will more countries close their borders?
It is not entirely clear. As several European countries have introduced new restrictions for US travelers based on EU advice, it is possible that others will follow suit in the coming weeks.
The restrictions are due to the spread of Covid’s Delta variant in the United States, with cases reaching their highest number in many months between July and August. As numbers remain high in September and colder months are expected to fuel the spread of the disease, further restrictions appear likely.
What should I do if I have booked a trip to Europe?
If you’ve booked a trip to a country that remains open to Americans, you shouldn’t run into any problems as long as you follow all the recommended advice.
But if the rules have changed since you booked, many hotels and airlines recognize Covid issues and restrictions and may offer refunds if you booked directly. It’s worth asking.
As with all travel during the pandemic, however, there is a risk that you can end up out of your own pocket.
Luis Araujo, president of the European Travel Commission, a non-profit organization that promotes tourism on the continent, points out that US travelers are still a huge priority for Europe despite the changes in the rules.
“American travelers are of paramount importance to Europe and most European destinations are still open to US visitors and eager to welcome them back to our shores,” Araujo told CNN Travel in a statement.
“That said, we must accept that we are still experiencing the reality of this ongoing pandemic and will experience some setbacks on our road to recovery.
“Travelers from the United States still need to be aware of health measures and abide by the rules at their destination.”
Do I need to book a future trip to Europe?
As previously mentioned, with any travel plan in the current pandemic, there are risks that may need to be changed or canceled. If you are looking for an escape that is completely free of bureaucratic hassles, uncertainties and stress, then perhaps the answer is a simple no.
But Araujo insists that US citizens should “continue planning their trips to Europe”, while keeping an eye on “all the latest travel rules and cancellation policies”.
“With current vaccination rates and safety protocols in place, safe international travel is absolutely possible, with this summer season proving it.”
Which European countries have banned unvaccinated US travelers?
The Netherlands now requires quarantine of vaccinated Americans.
Ramon Van Flymen / ANP / AFP / Getty Images
Denmark, Finland, France, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands and Spain have banned all non-essential unvaccinated US travelers. Meanwhile, all non-essential American travelers are prohibited from visiting Bulgaria, Norway and Sweden, regardless of their vaccination status.
What vaccinations are accepted in Europe?
To be considered a fully vaccinated visitor, travelers must have been given a full dose of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen – two weeks before travel.
Can I travel to Europe with unvaccinated children?
The new rules will have no impact on children too young to be vaccinated. Children under the age of 12 can travel with vaccinated adults to European countries where US travelers can enter. But while children under 12 are exempt from all restrictions in some countries, others require a negative Covid test.
People aged 12-18 are subject to the same rules and restrictions as adult travelers. Again, it’s worth double-checking for each destination in case any changes to these guidelines are introduced.
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