If you’d given up hope of an overseas trip this summer, the European Union is here to offer a glimmer of hope—all 27 countries are set to open their doors to vaccinated Americans in time for peak tourist season.
Ambassadors from each state—including vacation hotspots such as Italy, Spain, and France—agreed to a new set of rules Wednesday. They say that, as long as someone has taken all of the shots of any of the vaccines that are approved in the United States, they can visit, after more than a year in which travel to most European nations has been highly restricted.
But, before you book tickets to the Colosseum, there are a few caveats.
The rules need to get formal approval first, there’s no word yet on exactly when the changes would come into effect, and individual nations in the bloc retain the right to ask for extra precautions such as a negative coronavirus test or enforced quarantines. They can also back out of the rules if their pandemic situation gets worse or a new variant gathers steam.
European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said the new rules strike the right balance, explaining, “This will help improve international inbound travel and it’s possible to do so safely while at the same time ensuring quick action to counter the spread of new virus variants.”
The European Council is expected to finalize the exact recommendations, and the timeline for introducing them, later this week. The pandemic statistics have largely been moving in the right direction in Europe since its vaccination rollout began to pick up pace over the past few months after a clunking start, making the new travel guidelines possible.
Bars, shops, and cultural spaces reopened across France on Wednesday, and its nationwide curfew has been pushed back two hours to 9 p.m. In Italy, quarantine measures have already been scrapped for vaccinated tourists arriving from the U.S. Greece, whose economy relies heavily on tourism, has also lifted its quarantine measures.
However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remains skeptical about international tourism during the pandemic. The current guidance on its website states, “Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19... However, international travel poses additional risks and even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new COVID-19 variants.”
So, if you are going to head to Paris this summer, get vaccinated first—and, just in case, maybe it’s best to learn the French for “hospital” too.