Top European Union officials voted Wednesday to add the United States to its “safe travel list,” CNBC reports. After more than a year of banning all non-essential travel, that decision clears the way for American vacationers to travel freely throughout much of Europe.
Notably, that goes even further than the EU's ongoing efforts to set up a vaccine passport system dubbed the digital green certificate. Rather than requiring proof of vaccination, travelers arriving from safe countries need only show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to skip mandatory quarantines upon arrival.
The change was expected to take effect within the coming days as top European officials finalized the requirements. The EU also added a slew of other countries to its safe list Wednesday, including Albania, Lebanon, North Macedonia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau.
But it's not a green light to head anywhere in Europe just yet. The EU's vote Wednesday is merely a recommendation to countries across the bloc, who could choose to loosen travel restrictions or keep them in place. There could be a patchwork of rules, restrictions, and entry requirements that vary by country across the continent. Some countries may still require proof of vaccination or even mandatory quarantines for entry.
The U.S. has not yet lifted its own ban on European travelers. And Americans returning from Europe are still currently required to provide a negative COVID-19 test no more than three days before their flight back to the states – regardless of their vaccination status.
It's a different situation entirely for visiting the United Kingdom, which left the EU last year. The U.S. and U.K. are working on a separate travel corridor between the two countries.
Several popular countries have already beat the EU to the punch in reopening for travel.
Iceland, which isn't a member of the EU, was the first in Europe to reopen way back in March with vaccination requirements. Greece and Croatia followed soon after, opening to travelers with proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. In just the last few weeks alone, Spain, France, Portugal, and Switzerland have all opened their borders to American tourists.
Finally, the finish line is in sight. While it's not a done deal, this is the clearest sign yet that travel to Europe this summer is in reach.
In fact, it could be even easier than it initially appeared.