Americans Traveling to Europe Need to Know About These 3 New Travel Restrictions

by Brittney Myers | Published on July 16, 2021

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Masked travelers going through airport customs check with passports.

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Quarantines and curfews are back again.

Although there are plenty of people pushing for a return to "normalcy," the coronavirus pandemic is still very much ongoing. Especially concerning are the new Delta and Lambda variants, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned are significantly more transmissible than previous versions of the virus.

Despite concerns, many in the U.S. were excited when Europe recently opened up to tourists, giving cooped up travelers a good reason to dust off their travel rewards. Unfortunately, some countries seem to be questioning the move.

In the weeks following reopening, the number of new cases have spiked across the European continent. Those spikes, together with worries over the rapidly evolving new coronavirus variants, have led several countries in Europe to impose new restrictions on travelers.

1. Quarantines may be required

A number of countries seem to be re-evaluating their quarantine requirements, especially for travelers who have not received both doses of a two-dose vaccine.

Malta, in particular, has recently reinstated a mandatory quarantine period for visitors who cannot show a Malta-recognized proof of vaccination. Since Malta does not currently recognize the CDC certificate common in the U.S., this means U.S. tourists to Malta will likely need to quarantine for 14 days upon entry.

While other countries haven't updated their quarantine requirements yet, we could see more of Europe add additional entry restrictions if cases continue to climb. New variants could also spark quarantine requirements.

2. New restrictions on indoor activities

Of course, the absence of quarantine requirements doesn't mean you'll have completely unrestricted movement. There have been a number of restrictions placed on indoor activities across Europe. For example, multiple countries have shut down nightclubs and bars, or otherwise limited their capacities. The Netherlands, which not long ago lifted mask requirements for indoors, reversed course after infections rose. The country has since closed bars and restaurants to indoor service.

Other countries are trying to avoid complete shutdowns by adding new entry requirements. Earlier this week, France announced new restrictions on indoor cafes, bars, and shopping centers that limit visitors to only those who have been vaccinated or very recently had a negative COVID test. Greece has also imposed similar restrictions for bars and theaters.

3. Some curfews are back in place

In a few countries, nightly curfews are being put in place rather than limiting or shutting down specific businesses. Spain, for instance, recently reinstated curfews in more than 30 cities, including the popular tourist destination of Valencia. They've also banned social gatherings larger than 10 people due to case rates tripling in the last month.

Portugal reinstated its curfews in the face of case spikes due to the Delta variant. Other countries still have long standing curfews in place, including Albania and parts of Cyprus. A few countries let curfews lapse earlier this month, but that could change if the Delta variant continues to cause spikes throughout the continent.

Many protections have also been extended

Even in areas that have yet to impose new restrictions, plans to ease existing restrictions have been scrapped. This means you'll more than likely need masks when indoors throughout Europe, even if you're vaccinated. Social distancing measures are also fully in force across most of Europe.

The takeaway? Things are constantly changing as authorities work to respond to an evolving pandemic. Before you travel anywhere, internationally or even within the U.S., be sure to research the latest restrictions and requirements for the most up-to-date information.

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