The European Union (EU) has recommended that member countries allow fully vaccinated travelers, including those from the US, entry with proof of vaccination. The EU has also relaxed its requirements for unvaccinated travelers from third countries. Here’s what the changes mean:
Under the new EU rules, member states may accept proof of vaccination to waive travel restrictions, such as testing and quarantines. Vaccines must have been taken at least 14 days before arrival and be approved by the European Medicines Agency or the World Health Organization. Approved vaccines include Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca and Johnson and Johnson.
Be aware that the EU’s recommendations are not legally binding, and its member states are not required to adopt them. While the EU recommends uniform rules, it is likely that member states will adapt differing variations of the recommendations.
No clear timeline is available, but the EU hopes to have a mechanism in place for vaccinated travelers by June for the summer vacation season. The 27 EU member countries are Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Also, EU restrictions on non-essential travelers from third countries can be waived if the country’s COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days are no more than 75 (previously 25), and progress has been made in vaccinating the population. Other previous criteria that continue to apply are: stable or decreasing trends in new cases, the number of tests performed, a maximum of 4% positivity rate among all tests conducted, the overall response to COVID-19 in the country and the reliability of the available information.
The EU plans to release a new list of third countries that meet the new criteria for unrestricted travel within the next few days. Some believe the US will be included. At this writing only eight countries were listed: Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and China.
Several EU countries have already begun to relax entry requirements for travelers outside of Europe. Add to that a score of countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America, and travelers with cabin fever have lots of options for this summer vacation season and for the coming hunting seasons.
That said, travelers must remain informed of developments in their intended destination, as the situation can change at any time with the development of a new strain or a change in infection rates caused by various factors. In fact, the EU’s recommendations included an “emergency brake mechanism” that would allow a member state to quickly implement restrictions should conditions in a country suddenly change.
That means SCI members should check the US State Department Travel website (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html) or contact SCI’s Hunter Information Service (www.safariclub.org/contact) for the latest information as their travel dates near. A number of destinations that were previously open to travelers have closed again, so it’s a good idea to get trip cancellation or some form of travel insurance to cover any border closures or other COVID-19 developments that may occur.
Here’s a list of countries open to travelers and that are of interest to hunters: Austria, Benin, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Pakistan, Romania, South Africa, Tanzania, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Although the US/Mexico land border is still closed to non-essential traffic, Americans are free to fly into Mexico without any proof of vaccine, negative COVID test or quarantine required.
Several important hunting destinations remain closed. Those included Argentina, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Mongolia.