Covid-19 era's summer travel rules for Europe

Anyone who has been fully vaccinated can enter Spain, irrespective of their point of origin.
Anyone who has been fully vaccinated can enter Spain, irrespective of their point of origin.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - Europe's tourism hot spots are gearing up for what they hope will be a summer season marked by the return of foreigners eager for a taste of freedom after a year of Covid-19 restrictions worldwide.

But visitors will face a hodgepodge of entry rules across the bloc, even with the launch of a "travel pass" for European Union residents aimed at speeding up processing at arrival points.

Access for tourists from some countries outside the bloc has also become easier, but many others continue to impose draconian restrictions as governments try to avert a fourth coronavirus wave while throwing tourism a lifeline.

Here is a summary of rules in some of Europe's key tourism spots:

1. France

The world's top tourist destination uses a colour-coded map laying out entry protocols, with EU residents who are vaccinated or have a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test able to enter freely.

The same goes for a number of "green" countries, including the United States, Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand and Singapore.

Visitors from "orange" zones, which include Britain and most of Asia and Africa, have to produce a recent negative Covid-19 test even when vaccinated.

For non-vaccinated people coming from "orange" zones, however, only essential trips are allowed and a seven-day self-quarantine imposed.

Just over 20 countries remain largely off-limits, including India, South Africa and much of South America, including Brazil.

Mask wearing remains mandatory indoors, but curfew rules have been lifted.

2. Spain

Anyone who has been fully vaccinated can enter Spain, irrespective of their point of origin.

Arrivals from several countries and regions no longer even need proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test. They are Albania, Australia, South Korea, the US, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Non-vaccinated travellers from EU countries need to produce a negative Covid-19 test less than 48 hours old.

Arrivals from Britain, which makes up the biggest foreign tourist group in Spain, again need to show a negative PCR test, a requirement that had been dropped previously.

Masks are mandatory indoors, but no longer outside, and curfews and domestic travel restrictions have been lifted.

Restaurants and bars are cleared for outdoor and indoor seating, but there are some restrictions on hours and the number of patrons allowed at any one time.

Nightclubs have reopened in the Madrid region and Catalonia, which includes hot spot Barcelona.

3. Italy

The country hopes for 20 per cent more tourists than last year.

Arrivals from the EU can enter freely if they have either been fully vaccinated, recovered from Covid-19 or present a negative Covid-19 test less than 48 hours old.

The same goes for passengers arriving from the US, Canada, Japan, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Rwanda, Singapore and Thailand.

Visitors from Britain are subject to a five-day quarantine after presentation of a negative test. A second test is required after quarantine.

Italy remains off-limits for tourists from Brazil, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Masks are no longer compulsory outside, but must be worn indoors.

Curfews have been lifted, as have restrictions on restaurants and bars, but tables must still be placed at least 1m apart.

4. Portugal

According to rules in force until July 11, all arrivals need to present proof of vaccination or a PCR test less than 72 hours old or an antigen rapid test (ART) of less than 48 hours.

Non-vaccinated arrivals from Britain will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

Except for EU member countries, Schengen members and a small number of other countries including the US and Australia, travellers need a compelling reason to enter Portugal.

Social distancing and mask wearing are mandatory, and special rules are in place for beaches and swimming pool areas, with a distance of 3m minimum required between parasols.

5. Greece

The Greek government is hoping to reach about half of its pre-pandemic tourism revenues this summer which, if confirmed, would double last year's figure.

Some 150,000 tourists have travelled to Greece since the start of the season on May 14, according to Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis.

Arrivals from EU countries and the Schengen area are authorised to enter Greece, as are residents of Canada, the US, Israel, China, Thailand, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

But they are required to fill in a form and produce proof of full vaccination, or a PCR test of less than 72 hours, an antigen test of less than 48 hours, or a certificate of post-infection immunity.

The authorities said they will also carry out spot antigen testing of arriving passengers.

6. UK

Travel to Britain is made difficult for most of the world by strict curbs on arrivals, costly quarantine requirements and Covid-19 tests.

The tourism sector's efforts are mostly focused on domestic holidaymakers.

Travellers from "green" countries - including Australia, New Zealand and Iceland - need only produce a negative Covid-19 test.

The green list was extended by 16 countries on Wednesday (June 30), including Israel, the Balearic Islands and the Cayman Islands.

Arrivals from Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands can enter freely.

Covid-19 infections due to the Delta variant delayed the planned lifting of many social restrictions, but Britain hopes to scrap a ban on large social gatherings and non-seated drinking in pubs on July 19, as well as to reopen nightclubs.