US authorities advise Americans not to travel to Europe, despite the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions across the bloc.
1. Level 4
EU countries have progressively been easing Covid-19 travel restrictions yet the US authorities are encouraging American citizens not to travel to Europe. Despite the lifting of limitations imposed by the pandemic, all EU countries and those from the European Economic Area (EEA) are still considered to be Level 4. For that reason, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) says these countries should be avoided.
Among the Level 4 countries are Portugal, Spain, Italy and France, popular destinations for international tourists. The UK has also been listed as Level 4 since July 2021. In contrast, several EU and EEA countries are opening up, allowing people to travel with no restrictions. Denmark, The Czech Republic, Ireland, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden are all open to international tourists.
How does the CDC decide the Level attributed to each country? The decision is based primarily on the number of Covid-19 cases a given country has. When it has more than 500 cases per 100,000 people registered in the last 28 days, it is designated as Level 4. In the EU/EEA, the most recent weekly average for member states was 1,778 cases per 100,000 people.
2. Ignoring CDC
Many US travellers are ignoring the CDC advise and booking vacations in the EU despite its Level 4 status. For example, data from the Greek Tourism Confederation shows that flight bookings from the US to Greece have now returned to pre-pandemic levels.
On top of that, a survey by the European Travel Commission revealed that 45% of Americans wanted to visit the EU in 2022. Among the main reasons leading them to this decision were the vaccination rates and the way a country had handled the pandemic.
3. Europeans flying to the US
As Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths drop across the US, the CDC is being pushed to drop testing requirements for incoming international travellers, including Europeans. The US is one of the few remaining major holiday destinations still requiring vaccinated visitors to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test (antigen test or a PCR) taken within 24 hours of departure.
“Much has changed since these measures were imposed and they no longer make sense in the current public health context,” stated the industry lobbying group Airlines for America in a letter to the government. Most major US carriers are members of this group.
“Now is the time for the Administration to sunset federal transportation travel restrictions – including the international predeparture testing requirement and the federal mask mandate – that are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment,“ reads the Airlines for America statement.
Last week White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said there were “no plans to change the international travel requirements at this point.”