Earlier today I wrote about plans to re-open the European Union to American tourists this summer. While that sounds amazing in theory, much of Western Europe is under lockdown again as a third wave has brought a tidal wave of cases and deaths.
Caution: It’s Too Early To Know If European Summer Travel Will Take Place
In India, the pandemic is so bad that some media outlets are pausing coverage of cricket, deeming it wholly inappropriate as patients are dying waiting to get into hospitals or sharing scarce bottles of oxygen. While Europe is not at that level, Germany just shut down again and plans to remains closed until June. Parts of France and Italy are in lockdown as well.
Cases are also on the rise again in the Netherlands, Poland, and Croatia (but on the downturn in warmer Portugal and Spain).
With that backdrop, is it even reasonable to think about traveling to Europe as an American tourist this summer? Even if European borders are open, will restaurants, bars, and museums be open?
The answer is simple: it is too early to tell. Yet it is prudent to consider this carefully if you are considering booking travel in light of the latest news.
European leaders hope that the current shutdowns will allow for full summer re-openings, less so for American tourists than to allow European citizens to enjoy summer holidays after over a year of shutdown.
But even as progress on vaccinations is being made, there are still so many unknowns. Although European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen indicted optimism that Europe would re-open to tourism this summer, she warned that actual re-opening will depend upon the “epidemiological situation.”
Currently, nonessential travel is banned in most EU countries (Greece and Iceland are the exceptions). Travel restrictions and lockdown measures will continue until numbers drop (and they are moving in the wrong direction in Germany and France) and questions over vaccine certificates or vaccine passports (digital green certificates) remain unresolved.
My Advice: Wait Or Book With Miles
While I tend to think Italy and France will re-open this summer, I’d still be cautious before tying up thousands of dollars in revenue tickets to travel there.
Should you buy a restricted ticket and travel restrictions not be lifted, the best you can hope for is travel credit (unless the flight is cancelled). Visa restrictions are generally not sufficient grounds to trigger a refund.
Thus, I recommend you use miles (which tend to be much more flexible) or simply hold off on booking for now. Until case numbers and deaths start to drop in Europe, I just would not book if you plan to enter on the basis of your United States passport and vaccination card.
I certainly hope Europe will be open to American travelers this summer. At this point, however, I would not bet on it…the numbers in key nations remain a concern.
image: Jernej Furman