Covid-19 has brought international travel to a temporary standstill. The good news is that as the health situation gradually improves, some countries are now considered safe to travel to Europe during the pandemic.
European destinations are amongst those that are now becoming more accessible as certain travelers from outside the European Union are now able to visit the EU Member States.
The list of countries considered safe is being reviewed and updated every two weeks with new nations added as they meet all the EU’s criteria. Find out whether your country has already been included on the list and, if not, the conditions it needs to meet.
If you are hoping to travel to Europe soon, you should also be aware of the new entry requirement for Europe, the ETIAS visa waiver. It is scheduled to be launched by the EU in 2022 and many of the details can be found here.
Safe Travel To Europe During The Pandemic – What You Need To Know
Which Countries are on the EU Safe Country of Origin List
From early July, travel restrictions at the external borders of EU countries have started to be lifted for residents of several countries outside of the EU.
An exception to the status of a third country (or country outside of the EU) has been made for Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City. Therefore, residents of these countries will not face third country travel restrictions.
The list of countries considered safe to travel from is a recommendation set out by the European Commission. As such, individual European nations can still decide exactly when to open their borders and to which countries.
So, if your country appears on this list, it is still important to check that the EU country you wish to visit is accepting travelers before making plans.
The current list (as of July 21st) is as follows:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- China (subject to confirmation, reciprocal agreement required)
With the list being updated every two weeks, it is expected that more countries will continue to be added as the health situation in those areas improves.
Similarly, if criteria are no longer met, countries may be removed from the list. So, it’s important to check the latest version before your planned travel date.
Covid-19 Criteria Countries Must Meet to Be Considered Safe Origins
In order to make the list, third countries must have a number of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents close to or below the EU average on 15th June.
Countries must also show a stable decreasing trend of new cases compared to the previous 14 days, and have an acceptable overall response to Covid-19.
An acceptable response includes testing, surveillance of cases, contact tracing, content, treatment, and reporting, etc…. Reciprocity is also taken into account when assessing the eligibility of each country.
Are There Any Exemptions to the EU Travel Restrictions?
Even if your country is not included on the list, you may still be able to travel to Europe if you are also an EU citizen or the immediate family member/dependent of an EU citizen.
This is also true if you or an immediate family member/dependent is a long-term EU resident. Long-term residents are those who are not a citizen of an EU country but have resided legally and continuously within its territory for five years or more while maintaining a source of support.
Others who may be able to travel regardless of the status of their country include individuals with an essential function such as healthcare professionals, seasonal agricultural workers, students, and, of course, diplomats.
Check with the authorities of the country you wish to visit if you believe one of these exemptions apply to you.
Tips for Safe Travel to Europe During the Coronavirus Pandemic
As it may be some time before a vaccine becomes available, it is likely that we will be living with the coronavirus for the foreseeable future. For this reason, it is important that we learn to travel safely despite Covid-19.
There are many reasons why you may wish to travel to Europe during the pandemic. Perhaps you have family living overseas or essential business activities in cities across Europe.
Or maybe you want to take the opportunity to see some of Europe’s most popular destinations without the crowds of tourists you would normally find.
If you are traveling in Europe in the coming weeks and months, be sure to carry a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you and use it frequently. This is especially true after coming into contact with high-touch surfaces.
It is also important for your safety and the safety of others to wear a mask on all forms of transport. This includes while waiting at airports and stations.
Other safety tips include avoiding touching your face, eyes, and mouth as well as keeping a distance of at least six feet (1.5 meters) from others. And whenever possible, choose seats away from other passengers.
The Future of European Travel
While it may not be possible to say exactly when entry restrictions will be fully lifted, what is certain is that EU nations are keen to welcome back overseas visitors and to make Europe an even safer destination for tourists.
From 2022, travelers from visa-exempt nations will require a new travel authorization to cross the Schengen Area exterior border. ETIAS is a visa waiver aimed at making Europe more secure.
Not only will ETIAS improve border security, but it will also help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Travelers who pose a high epidemic risk will be blocked from entering.
You’ll be able to apply online in just a few minutes. With your approved ETIAS you have the chance to explore all 26 Schengen countries for up to 90 days.
It means you are considered safe to travel to Europe during pandemic restrictions. It’s the perfect opportunity to make up for time lost since the borders were closed.