In March 2020, most of Europe closed its borders. Rampant infections across multiple countries put the brakes on traditional tourism, forcing holidaymakers to go elsewhere.
However, from around June 2021, the continent began opening up again. And now, for vaccinated passengers at least, things are returning to normal.
Travelling to Europe, though, still isn’t a guaranteed thing. Member states of the EU can decide to unilaterally prevent travellers from entering their countries. They can also decide who they want to stay in and out, even if they are all officially part of the Schengen area.
In this post, we take a look at some of the things that you need to know about travelling to Europe this fall.
Not All Of Europe Is Part Of The Schengen Area
The Schengen area includes countries that are in the European Economic Area – basically a free trade zone that operates across the continuent. However, some countries don’t qualify and, therefore, set their own rules for whether they allow tourists or not. For instance, Belarus is a part of Europe, but it is not in the Schengen area. It will have its own rules.
You Can Travel To Europe Unvaccinated, But You Will Need To Quarantine
The EU is currently allowing both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to enter from outside the economic bloc. However, if you haven’t had two doses of an approved vaccine, you will likely have to quarantine and take multiple PCR tests to prove that you’re COVID-negative. If you’re positive, then you may have to remain in quarantine until your symptoms subside.
Before you travel, check the requirements of the destination country. Ensure that you make the right preparations.
You Need To Apply For ETIAS
People travelling to Europe from developed countries, such as the US, Canada, Australia and Japan, don’t need to apply for a Schengen area visa. However, they still need to lodge an application via the ETIAS system. You can find guidelines for ETIAS on many sites across the internet. These show you how to apply and what you need to do to enter Europe visa-free.
However, if you are from a country in the developing world, then you will need to complete a visa. The purpose of the visa is to ensure that you can support yourself financially during your trip and that you will return home once your stay is over.
It’s Still Not Safe To Travel
Despite the fact that Europe is opening up, it’s still not safe to travel, especially for those who don’t have natural or vaccine-induced immunity.
If you’re travelling with children who haven’t been vaccinated yet, be careful. The delta variant appears to affect young people more than the alpha variant.
When you return home, you may still need to quarantine, depending on precisely where you have been, and your country of origin. European case rates have been falling in recent months, but they remain stubbornly high from the peak last winter, despite vaccinations rollouts and lockdown efforts.