Europe’s travel rules are dropping as fast as its Covid cases
Travel restrictions are quickly disappearing in Europe, with new announcements coming by the week — and, more recently, by the day.
As a result of an epidemic of omicron-related illnesses, January saw changes to Covid travel regulations gain momentum.
Parts of Europe acted quickly. Nation’s moved to eliminate rules due to high vaccination rates, mild omicron infection and other factors. deemed no longer effective in the global fight against Covid-19.
The United Kingdom and Switzerland announced that they would no longer conduct pre-departure Covid testing for travelers vaccinated against Covid infection, even though it was already January when the epidemic reached its peak in Europe. Other European countries also reduced self-isolation times and eliminated color-coded travel restrictions.
The Council of the European Union recommended on Jan. 25 that member nations apply a “person-based approach” — rather than a country-based one — that allowed free travel for those with an EU digital Covid certificate that showed proof of vaccination with an EU-approved vaccine, a recent negative Covid test or recovery from an infection.
On Feb. 22, the Council recommended member nations open more broadly to travelers from outside of the EU as well — with the caveat that they be vaccinated or have recently recovered. However, the recommendation didn’t include any provision that would allow in outsiders with negative Covid tests results.
This is a good idea for countries that have strained hospitals systems. Unvaccinated persons are more likely to contract severe illness, says Cyrille, the head of Israel’s immunotherapy laboratory at Bar-Ilan University.
He said that vaccines still work well at keeping severe diseases from happening by an additional 10x.
Many countries insist that foreign travelers get vaccinated, according to Dale Fisher (group chief of medicine at Singapore’s National University Health System).
His pre-travel testing method is different. He called it inconvenient as well as unsustainable.
You can’t keep doing this forever. [tests]He said that he would have to travel one day. “I think travel will be a lot better when people know they just have to be vaccinated — it’s simple as that.”
Many countries across Europe have dropped mandatory testing requirements. This includes France, Finland, Lithuania and others.
Some nations — such as Greece, Portugal, Croatia and Denmark — are also relaxing vaccination requirements, though some limit this to travelers from EU or Schengen countries who test negative or have recently recovered.
Iceland removed all Covid-19-related restrictions at the border and within Iceland.
Sam Spicer | Moment | Getty Images
IcelandAnd NorwayHowever, almost all Covid travel restrictions have been lifted this month. Travelers don’t need to take any tests or get vaccinated in order to be admitted to Norway archipelago Svalbard. Similar to Denmark, the two countries are scrapping their own internal regulations, like those regarding masks, social distancing and event restrictions.
Although the Council of the EU tries to coordinate Covid restraints in Europe, their recommendations are not binding on EU members. The continent is currently governed by a mix of rules for travel.
But, generally speaking, the rules are shifting in the same direction — toward a more travel-friendly environment with fewer, and in some cases no, Covid restrictions.
The number of daily Covid cases has more than doubled over the past month in Europe, going from 1.7million in December to 730,000 by February 25, to approximately 730,000 today. Reuters.
Over the past two weeks, infections have fallen in every major European country, according to the news agency, with one major exception — IcelandWhere cases are increasing,
It has reported nearly 155,000,000 cases and over 2 million deaths. Reuters reported that 40 of 100 cases in the world are still being confirmed on the continent.