Canceled, by Rich Paschall
Since March of 2020, there have been various travel restrictions in place. Many people have been awaiting the opening of borders so they may travel again. You may have greeted some recently announced changes with the hopes that you may hop an airplane to your favorite destination. Maybe you want to visit family and friends. Maybe you want to revive those delayed vacation plans. Maybe you want to cross an item off your bucket list. Maybe you should have a plan.
In early 2020 countries started closing their borders in an effort to control the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19. The United States ultimately slapped restrictions on crossing the land borders and stopped citizens from dozens of countries. These restrictions, put in place by the previous administration, seemed to be guided by politics rather than health and science. Citizens from some countries with high Coronavirus rates were still allowed to enter. This likely does not surprise you.
On August 9th Canada began welcoming vaccinated US travelers but the US did not reciprocate as some had hoped. The ban remained in place. The tourist industry suffered.
Not only did the US travel restrictions keep out visitors from our neighboring countries to the north and south, but they also kept out much of Europe. For a while, the United States had been on the list of “green countries” that were allowed to visit Europe, but things have changed. On August 30th the US became an “orange country” and the EU recommended that its 27 member nations ban entry of non-essential American travelers. Members were free to accept the recommendations or not, and this led to a variety of regulations across the European Union.
Four countries have banned non-essential travelers from the United States. Twelve countries will accept fully vaccinated Americans, with proof of course. Eleven countries allow unvaccinated travelers but they have strict quarantine rules. The regulations are subject to change on short notice.
On November 8th, the US will begin welcoming fully vaccinated international travelers. Those who were free to come and go before must now show proof of vaccination and have a negative COVID-19 test in order to fly. Those crossing by land will need to show proof of vaccination only. The US will accept vaccines approved by the CDC and by the World Health Organization. Children will be exempt for now. A few countries where COVID-19 is still at a high rate will remain on the list of those not allowed to enter.
The travel industry has been awaiting this news. A loosening of restrictions on international travelers, will not only help the airlines but will also help the “hospitality industry,” that is to say, hotels, restaurants, bars, theme parks, and various tourist attractions. Sweden’s ambassador to the United States called the November 9th reopening “very welcoming news.” It’s an odd comment considering Sweden is one of the countries currently banning Americans.
If your Sunday travels brought you to SERENDIPITY last week, you may have noticed that I mentioned I would like to travel again this year. I had gone to France ten years in a row and had been halted in 2020 by the global pandemic. Since my last visit in October 2019, my friend got married. His wife is now pregnant and it seems this may be the last chance for me to go on my own. I have airline vouchers and vaccinated friends. There is a place to stay and friends to visit. This week I was going to present you with the results of my travels. I canceled the trip.
If you wish to travel to France, you must obtain the French Health Certificate. This applies to all those 12 and older. If you have someone under 18 who has not yet gotten vaccinated, consider the country rules before travel. The vaccine must be on their approved list. Johnson and Johnson is not on their drop-down list. If you got the J&J one shot pick one by Janssen (made by J&J) and explain in the comments. You have to upload your CDC card anyway. You must also indicate your dates of travel and upload your ticket and passport. This process was meant to take one to three days. You would receive a QR code that you could have on your phone or you could print it. This is what I received when I finished:
“Habituellement, les dossiers de cette démarche sont traités dans un délai de 24 days.”
Basically, that says the process could be delayed up to 24 days. The French news site The Connexion gave examples of long delays and canceled trips by Americans and others. Not only will most businesses in France require the QR code for the passe Sanitaire, but airlines and Customs agents may check as well. Airlines do not want to have to immediately take you back to your origin because you were not allowed in the country.
My plan was to fly to Frankfurt and go on to France from there. Will the French certificate be honored in Germany? Germany requires digital registration before entry. It is a separate form, but it is asking for basically the same information.
My QR code arrived several days after my trip was to have begun. I am applying for both codes and giving it one more try in November. It is clear that any trip involving multiple countries will require advanced planning. You may think that this whole process may not be worth it and you should hold off. It is not likely to get easier as the EU is set to implement a tourist visa for Americans at some point next year.
Sources include: “U.S. to lift restrictions Nov 8 for vaccinated foreign travelers,” by David Shepherdson, Reuters, October 15, 2021.
“EU Travel Ban: Which Countries Are Open To Americans, Vaccinated Or Not? Country-By-Country Guide For October,” by Alex Ledson, Forbes, October 1, 2021
“Europe’s Travel Restrictions for U.S. Citizens,” EUROPEAN TRAVEL INFORMATION AND AUTHORIZATION SYSTEM, as of October 18, 2021
“EU Travel Recommendations: What U.S. Travelers Need to Know,” by Allison Pohle, The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2021.