The past month has seen some pretty ambitious headlines about travel to Europe this summer. Most of these technically only refer to the European Union (though they don’t make that explicitly clear), which includes 27 of the continent’s 50 countries. But even when focusing just on the EU countries, the re-opening of Europe is a tangled web of individual country regulations, hygiene requirements, tracking apps, and localized quarantines, curfews, and lockdowns that break down beyond national borders to state-to-state (sometimes town-to-town) rules.
In short, “Europe reopening” is a big, confusing mish-mash of ever-changing policies and guidelines that can shift at any moment. Yes, even if you’re vaccinated.
Not surprisingly, the European Union wants to make it easy to travel to the economic bloc and between the 27 nations therein. But ambitious travelers need to understand that right now all of this is still a “let’s see if we can make this happen”-type situation. Each EU nation has its own entry requirements and rules once you’re actually in that country. And these are the sorts of rules that can’t be skirted. Fines for things like not wearing masks where mandated can be pretty steep, depending on which country you’re visiting, and PCR testing and quarantining can be very expensive.
There’s is a ray of hope, though. The EU dropped a new app called Re-Open EU. The handy app (which is available wherever you get your apps) breaks down the absolute latest rules covering who can enter each EU country and what the rules are then you’re actually there.
The app has interactive maps that show the situation on the ground with a color-coded display. That color-coded map tells you where every state within every country currently stands in its fight against COVID-19. Green denotes the virus is waning or under control. Amber refers to the virus declining but not overcome. Finally, red means that a certain state or region is a no-go for non-essential travel. All of this helps you make smart decisions about where to travel in general.
From there, if the country is open to U.S. citizens for tourism, they’ll break down what you need to enter. That will always include participation in the EU Digital COVID Certificate — which will show your vaccine data, PCR tests, and whether or not you’ve recovered from covid within the last six months.
The other two sections of the app that are crucial are “Coronavirus Measures” and “Health Situation.” The first covers the rules you’ll have to follow while in-country. It breaks down all the on-the-ground rules in the nation — from museums and cinemas to beaches and parks to bars, clubs, and restaurants. It also covers the rules when going out, dining, partying, and expected behavior along with what’s open and at what capacity. It’s pretty comprehensive. The “Health Situation” section will let you know where vaccination rates stand along with infection, recovery, and death rates right now. Generally, these numbers are updated daily to keep you abreast of the situation to make smart travel decisions.
Finally, the app’s greatest asset might be the “Travel Plan” option. This allows you to input two countries and it’ll give you all the information about crossing the border between those two countries. It’s incredibly useful given that a trip to Europe would often include hitting one or two or more countries within the EU back before all this started. On one side, it’ll tell you if the country you’re in will let you travel to other EU countries in general. Then, it’ll let you know all the entry requirements for the country you want to travel to. The page also links to all health and entry forms you’ll have to fill out and further information about rules for when you’re in that country.
If you are planning to go to the EU this summer, this app really is crucial to do it legally and with as little hassle as possible. Good luck!