The European Union on Wednesday agreed to reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travelers, including Americans, and people from a list of COVID-safe countries that will be determined later this week ahead of the summer tourism season.
Visitors from outside the bloc who have received EU-approved vaccines — including those from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — will be allowed to enter European Union countries without having to take a test or quarantine upon arrival.
The new measures could go into effect as early as next week, after EU leaders give formal approval and individual countries set up systems to check vaccination status. While the EU aims to take a coordinated approach to travel this summer, member states will be allowed to set their own requirements for travelers from individual countries based on their own epidemiological criteria.
Some European countries are already allowing in American travelers with vaccine or testing requirements. Here is a guide to six of the continent’s most popular tourist destinations, explaining what is required for entry and what to expect if you do visit. — Ceylan Yeginsu
State of the virus
Like other countries in Europe, Croatia experienced a third wave that appears to have peaked in April. Since then, daily cases have steadily decreased. Croatia’s Institute of Public Health tracks cases on this website but doesn’t provide figures on deaths. According to World Health Organization data, from May 10 to May 16 Croatia had 239 COVID-related deaths (daily average: 34) and 5,896 new cases (daily average: 842). About 31% of adults in Croatia have had at least one vaccine dose while nearly 10% have been fully vaccinated, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Unlike some other European countries, Croatia makes no distinction between tourists and other travelers, applying the same conditions for leisure travel, essential family and business. Visitors from the European countries on the ECDC’s so-called green list (which varies constantly) can travel without restrictions. Those coming from European countries not on the green list must provide one of the following: a negative COVID test, proof of vaccination or a certificate of recovery. Finally, visitors from outside Europe must provide the same evidence (either a negative COVID test, a vaccination certificate or a certificate of recovery) and provide evidence of accommodations paid in advance or proof that they own property in Croatia, according to the government website. Travelers are advised to fill out the Enter Croatia form to speed up the process.
Currently, no direct flights operate between Croatia and the United States, but United Airlines and Delta Air Lines will launch seasonal direct flights from Newark Liberty International Airport and Kennedy International Airport in July, said Ina Rodin, an official with the Croatian National Tourist Office.
Croatia has universal health care and the quality of medical facilities are in line with European standards. Rapid antigen and PCR tests are widely available, with contact information listed on Croatia’s Institute of Public Health website. Those who develop symptoms of COVID-19 while in Croatia should contact a COVID-dedicated call center by dialing 113 or one of the designated medical facilities.
Bars and restaurants can operate but customers must be seated outside. The only indoor dining allowed is in hotels. There is a 10 p.m. curfew for shops, restaurants and other businesses. While beaches, thermal spas, parks, zoos and most museums are open, nightclubs are closed.
The general mood seems relaxed, and people seem eager to return to quasi-normal life and welcome tourists. Croatia’s economy heavily relies on tourism, accounting for almost 20% of the country’s gross domestic product according to 2018 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
“Most people have a normal social life,” said Kresimira Kruslin, 30, a lawyer in Zagreb. “The general feeling is very optimistic. Young people feel comfortable going out for drinks and things like that,” she said. “Some people are more cautious than others, but I don’t know anyone who is scared.”
State of the virus
France’s positivity rate and case numbers have dropped steadily over the past month, thanks to the country’s accelerating vaccination campaign and a national lockdown that was announced at the end of March. As of May 17, the seven-day average for daily new confirmed cases was just over 14,000, down from more than 45,000 one month earlier. The share of tests that are positive has similarly dropped from around 10% to 4.5% over the same period. And after a slow start, the pace of the vaccination campaign has recently picked up. As of May 17, nearly 31% of the French population had received at least one dose of vaccine, and 14% were fully vaccinated. Universal adult eligibility for vaccination will open up on June 15.
President Emmanuel Macron has announced that, beginning June 9, visitors from outside Europe will once again be allowed entry into France, provided they carry a pass sanitaire (health pass), details of which have yet to be announced.
Pressure on France’s health system has eased considerably, with the number of patients in the country’s intensive care units dropping from a high of more than 6,000 on April 26 to just over 4,000 on May 18. In a move that should appeal to tourists and public health officials alike, France will make PCR tests available to all visitors free of charge this summer, France’s foreign minister, Clément Beaune, recently told an interviewer. Anyone who tests positive should isolate and call a local doctor’s office if needed; for medical emergencies, dial 15.
Nonessential stores are reopening, outdoor dining has started, and the national curfew has been pushed back from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Museums like the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay are also opening their doors, as are theaters, movie theaters and cultural sites across the country, including the Château de Versailles and the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey. Disneyland Paris will reopen on June 17. The next easing of nationwide restrictions will come on June 9, when France’s curfew will be rolled back to 11 p.m., and limited indoor dining will be permitted. The last of the major restrictions will be lifted on June 30, when the curfew will be abolished and larger gatherings will be allowed, opening the door for the summer festival season. But even after all of the lockdown measures have been eased, visitors to France should expect to encounter mask requirements and social distancing measures, including limited capacity at museums, restaurants, stores and other establishments.
It’s been a long spring in France, and for many here, the annual grandes vacances can’t come soon enough. Restaurants just opened for outdoor dining, and people flocked to the tables, despite chilly, rainy weather in much of the country. But the prospect of summer vacations may be as important to the national economy as it is to the French spirit. The tourism industry accounts for nearly 8% of France’s gross domestic product and supports some 2 million jobs. “We need, we want, in good health conditions, to remain the top tourist destination in Europe and the world,” Beaune, the French official, said. “This is an economic issue for us.” — Paige McClanahan
State of the virus
Greece is recovering steadily from its latest coronavirus wave, which reached its peak in early April. As of May 18, the average daily case count had fallen to just over 2,000, down from a peak of more than 3,000 on April 5. Similarly, the share of coronavirus tests that are positive dropped to 4.3% on May 13 from 6.8% on April 1.
Nearly 28% of the Greek population had received at least one…