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TRAVEL NEWS

EU recommends tighter restrictions on American tourists as US removed from Covid safe travel list

The EU removed the US and five other countries from its travel safe list on Monday, meaning visitors, particularly those not vaccinated against Covid-19, could face tighter restrictions on travel to Europe. Individual member states can decide how to act.

EU recommends tighter restrictions on American tourists as US removed from Covid safe travel list
Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

The European Council announced on Monday that five countries and one territory have been removed from its recommended safe list of countries.

The countries and territories that were removed as of August 30th were Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia and the United States of America.

The latest move by the EU is however non-binding and individual member states are free to set their own border restrictions and quarantine rules when it comes to Covid, as they have done since the start of the pandemic.

Why has the US been removed?

The move follows a steep rise in Covid rates in both the US and Israel sparked by the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.

The EU Council bases its decision on “the epidemiological situation and overall response to COVID-19, as well as the reliability of the available information and data sources.”

It also takes into account reciprocity, in other words how countries treat travellers from EU countries.

In recent weeks there has been heightened pressure to remove the US from the list, not only due to rising Covid rates but also because the US still bars non-essential travel from European countries.

What does this mean in reality?

As stated above the EU’s list safe list for non-essential travel is non-binding meaning EU member states as well as Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Iceland are free to set their own rules for travel.

European countries may follow the EU’s lead and tighten restrictions such as quarantine measures or they could simply ignore the recommendation. Most EU countries reopened their border to travel from the US earlier in the summer in a bid to boost their tourism industry, but that was at a time when Covid rates in the US had plummeted.

Readers are recommended to keep a close eye on The Local’s individual country websites where any changes in travel rules will be reported on as soon as they are announced.

What does this mean for American travellers?

For vaccinated Americans nothing much should change, but it depends on where you’re travelling to as countries are allowed to set their own rules. 

The EU recommends that anyone vaccinated should be allowed to travel to Europe as long as they are vaccinated with an EU or WHO approved vaccine and had the last recommended dose at least 14 days before travel, as well as so-called “essential travellers” (see below) and all travellers from countries on the safe list, which includes the likes of Australia, New Zealand and China.

So the big change for travellers from the US to Europe – if countries follow up on the new recommendation – would be those who are not vaccinated and are travelling for “non-essential” reasons. But not all countries have separate rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers.

The EU states that essential travel basically covers EU citizens and their families, EU residents and their families as well as “travellers with an essential function or need”.

It’s also worth pointing out that the US currently advises its citizens against travel to most European countries.

Which countries and territories remain on the list?

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bosnia and Hercegovina
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • New Zealand
  • Qatar
  • Republic of Moldova
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Ukraine
  • China (plus Hong Kong and Macao)

The list is reviewed every two weeks.

Member comments

  1. Important to know if you are traveling to Italy as a non vaccinated US citizen; you will not be able to dine inside. You will need a Green Pass showing you are fully vaccinated to be able to do so. You will also not be permitted to enter a museum or any other public building. And as of September 1st you will not be allowed to travel on interregional trains or buses. They all require the same Green Pass. So if you do happen to be able to get here, there isn’t much you will be able to do.

    1. Heh, so they can “look but don’t touch” or eat in this case?? Good, cause their (anti-vaxx idiots) money isn’t worth another outbreak and preventable deaths; Nine times out of ten they’ll just make a scene at the restaurant anyway, complaining about how the food tastes like garbage (all they’re used to is sugary and salty junk), and then demand to see the manager to try and get out of paying for it. They make good fodder for YT videos but that’s about it, and even then it’s not worth it. Good on Italy and other countries that do the same.

  2. We two Americans are supposed to fly in four days on SAS from San Francisco to Copenhagen, non-stop, for a three week vacation in Denmark. We are fully Pfizer vaccinated more than fourteen days ago. We cannot get anyone, including SAS and the Danish consulate, to tell us if Denmark will let us into its wonderful country. Are we correct to presume Denmark will?

    1. David, according to the US Embassy & Consulate in the Kingdom of Denmark website “Effective June 5, the Danish government announced that fully vaccinated travelers from OECD countries – which includes the United States – may travel to Denmark, including for tourism. Travelers from the United States can enter Denmark if you have been vaccinated with a European Medicines Agency (EMA)-approved vaccine and it has been 14 days or longer since your last vaccine shot. Fully vaccinated travelers from the United States are also exempt from testing and quarantine requirements upon arrival in Denmark. You must present documentation that you are fully vaccinated which includes: your name, your date of birth, what disease you were vaccinated against, the vaccine name, your vaccination status, and the date of vaccination (both first and second dose if your vaccine had more than one dose). ”

      That was last updated August 30 2021, so it’s very recent and if you want to read the whole thing, here’s the website: https://dk.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/security-and-travel-information/covid-19-information/

      Good luck, and I hope you can still make your trip. Goodness knows we all need one right about now.

  3. Why has the US been removed?? “Because half of the country are a bunch of anti-science/vaxx idiots, who believe that taking vitamins, injecting bleach, or the latest fad: taking anti-parasitic medication meant for livestock, will “cure” them of coronavirus.” “They’re also more scared of wearing a mask, than a virus that has killed well over 500,000 people here, and on track to reach a million by the end of the year.” There, I fixed that for you.

    In all seriousness though, OF COURSE the US was going to be either banned or put on a risk list, cause the writing was on the wall; it never left in the first place, so literally no one should be surprised at this point, and the money isn’t worth another outbreak.

    Also, I’m dead serious about people resorting to using livestock medication to try and “cure” coronavirus; it’s called Ivermectin, and it’s typically used to get rid of parasites like roundworms in livestock like cattle, and obviously it’s doing more harm than good, but the misinformation has spread so much here, that some prisons are using it as a “treatment”. Here’s some links to the articles in case you don’t believe me; I wouldn’t blame you since it sounds so insane, and prepare your sanity cause it’s about to be tested with stupid that’s amped up to 11: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cdc-anti-parasite-drug-ivermectin-treat-prevent-covid-19/ (the story about Ivermectin)

    and the story on inmates in Arkansas given Ivermection as “coronavirus treatment”: https://www.npr.org/2021/09/02/1033586429/anti-parasite-drug-covid-19-ivermectin-washington-county-arkansas

  4. Well, this surprised absolutely NO ONE and if anything I’m surprised we (US) ever even left the risk list in the first place; if the news that people and some jails here are trying to use anti-parasitic medication to “treat” coronavirus, isn’t enough cause for concern then I don’t know what is. The medication in question is called Ivermectin, and is used to treat parasites like roundworms in livestock, and of course it’s not going well for people that use it…

    Here’s the story from NPR about how some jails are trying to use this for treating coronavirus: https://www.npr.org/2021/09/02/1033586429/anti-parasite-drug-covid-19-ivermectin-washington-county-arkansas

    and a story from CBS on how the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) are in an uphill battle warning people NOT to use this stuff. Prepare your sanity for a lot of stupid in these stories: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cdc-anti-parasite-drug-ivermectin-treat-prevent-covid-19/

  5. Another important issue that I haven’t seen addressed anywhere is the fact that Covid survivors here in Italy don’t meet the vaccination requirement of some countries, like Canada. That’s because Italy is one of those countries (Switzerland’s another) that’s decided to only give one vaccine shot to Covid survivors, and Canada requires two shots from everybody, whether you’re a Covid survivor or not. Since we survivors here in Italy are not allowed a second shot (I’ve asked my doctor for one and he said he couldn’t), we’re pretty much stuck..!

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TRAVEL NEWS

The busiest Italian roads to avoid over Ferragosto weekend

Traffic authorities have warned of busy roads as people in Italy set off for the long summer holiday weekend. Here’s what you need to know.

The busiest Italian roads to avoid over Ferragosto weekend

Italy’s autostrade, or motorways, rarely see much in the way of heavy traffic during the cold season. But that all changes in summer, especially in August, when hundreds of thousands of Italians take to the road to reach their chosen holiday destinations. 

The Ferragosto weekend is generally the worst time of year to travel on Italian roads, and the latest road traffic forecasts show this year is no exception.

READ ALSO: The worst dates to travel on Italy’s roads this August

The official road traffic calendar released by the Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato) offers a good overview of which days are likely to see the worst congestion. 

The calendar is colour-coded, with a ‘yellow’ spot indicating heavy traffic, ‘red’ indicating heavy traffic with ‘possible critical conditions’, and ‘black’ indicating ‘critical’ traffic.

Italy's August traffic calendar warning.

Italy’s August traffic calendar warning. Source: Polizia di Stato

As the table shows, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are all expected to be marked by very intense or critical traffic, with congestion worst on Saturday morning.

The situation should improve on Monday, August 15th, the day of Ferragosto, though traffic on most Italian roads is expected to still be fairly heavy throughout the day.

READ ALSO: Ferragosto: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

Naturally, the best way to avoid getting stuck in traffic over the weekend (and consequently rediscovering your appreciation for Italian swear words) would be to travel outside of the above-mentioned days, that is either before or after them.

Should that not be possible, here’s a breakdown of the roads that are more likely to register nightmarish levels of traffic this weekend, according to Italian media reports. This might help you plan alternative routes or reschedule your departure times accordingly.

Motorways (Autostrade)

  • Motorway junctions RA13 and RA14 near Trieste, Friuli Venezia-Giulia
  • Motorway A14, connecting Bologna (Emilia-Romagna) to Taranto (Puglia)
  • Motorway A1, connecting Milan to Naples
  • Motorway A2, commonly known as the ‘Mediterranean Motorway’ (Autostrada del Mediterraneo), connecting Salerno (Campania) to Reggio Calabria (Calabria)
  • Motorway A30, connecting Caserta to Salerno (Campania)
  • Motorways A19 (Palermo-Catania) and A29 (Palermo-Mazara del Vallo) in Sicily

State Roads (Statali)

  • State Road 16, known as ‘Statale Adriatica’, going from Padua, Veneto to Otranto, Puglia
  • State Road 309, known as ‘Strada Romea’, connecting Venice to Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna
  • State Road 36, stretching from Sesto San Giovanni, Lombardy to Italy’s border with Switzerland (Passo dello Spluga)
  • State Road 18, commonly known as ‘Tirrenia Inferiore’ connecting Naples to Reggio Calabria
  • State Road 106, commonly known as ‘Statale Jonica’, stretching from Reggio Calabria to Taranto (Puglia)
  • State Road 148, known as ‘Statale Pontina’, stretching from Rome to Terracina and
  • State Road 7, known as ‘Statale Appia’, going from Rome to Brindisi (Puglia)
  • State Road 1, known as ‘Via Aurelia’, connecting Rome to Ventimiglia, Liguria
  • State Roads 675 (from Terni, Umbria to Monte Romano, Latium) and 3-bis (from Terni to Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna)
  • State Road 131, known as ‘Statale Carlo Felice’, connecting Cagliari to Porto Torres (Sardinia)

Unsurprisingly, the roads that tend to be busier over the Ferragosto weekend are those leading to popular tourist destinations, especially those located near the seaside.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which parts of Italy will get the most tourism this summer?

If you were planning on using one of the above-mentioned roads to reach your holiday destination, you may want to consider drawing up an alternative route.

A view of the A4 motorway near Verona

Motorists can keep up to date with the situation on the roads (closures, maintenance works, traffic, etc.) through a number of online services. Photo by Claudio MARTINELLI / AFP

Further information

The Italian State Police offers guidance on alternative itineraries at the following online links:

The following resources will keep you up to date with the latest developments on the roads:

This online map from Italy’s motorway construction and maintenance company ANAS features live updates on road closures, maintenance work, traffic levels and even weather conditions. The service is also available through their mobile app, ‘VAI’.

Motorway company Autostrade per l’Italia offers a similar live map, showing road closures and traffic jams as well as the locations of the nearest petrol stations and service areas. 

The Italian Transport and Infrastructure Ministry’s Twitter account gives live updates on the status of the country’s major roads. 

If you want to speak directly to an operator while you’re on the road, you can do so by either contacting ANAS’s customer service at 800 841 148 or using their live chat.

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