I don’t know about you, but I really want to figure out when we can start traveling again. Don’t you feel that if someone could just give you a solid date, you could mentally deal with that, and plan accordingly? Sadly, my crystal ball is broken and we are dealing with moving targets.
Believe me, I understand there just aren’t any good, solid answers right now. We need to follow the science and respect the recommendations and guidelines given in their objective reports. We have to wait for travel to be safe again and it all depends on an awful lot of things that are out of our control. It’s just very difficult to predict when that time will turn out to be.
We don’t have to be idle in the meantime, though. There is a lot of information out there that we can use to get a sense of when things will begin to open up in Europe. Even though the situation is constantly changing, there are pieces of the puzzle out there that can give us some clues, and help us understand the timing we might be able to expect.
Each country has its own time frame and parameters for opening up their economies. This will occur in stages. Each domestic economy will need to more fully open up before tourism can resume. We can expect it to take quite a bit of time for this to happen.
What’s happening with travel to Italy?
There were rumors that Italy closed its borders to foreign travelers until 2021. Fortunately, this gossip is completely untrue. There is no such rule in place. In addition, according to the Italian Tourism Minister, Italy plans to welcome visitors as soon as it is safe to do so. The country will start to loosen up some of its lockdown rules beginning May 4, but it will be a gradual process. Italy’s tourism business will likely focus on domestic travelers for the summer time frame.
When will the lockdown in France be over?
The two-month nationwide lockdown in France began March 17. During this time, people in France were allowed 1 hour of leisure a day, within 1 km of their home. They also had to carry a lockdown permission form, that was used to validate every single outing – from shopping to exercise. Their “deconfinement plan” is expected begin to be implemented on May 11, but will be re-evaluated several days prior. The plan has 3 major points: protect, test and isolate. If all goes well, another wave of openings will begin June 2.
What is the plan to open up in Spain?
Spain’s de-escalation measures will allow citizens to gain more freedom of movement a little bit at a time. Spaniards are now able to go outside for a walk, in preparation for phase 1 of the 3 phase plan leading to a new normality. They are now in Phase 0 with walks allowed within 1 km of home at certain times of day, depending on age. Phase 1 will ease things a bit further beginning May 10. This phase will allow social contact between people from the same city who are not at risk. Sidewalk cafés will open at 30% capacity, and hotels will be able to open, but with no common areas such as a buffet. Unless it’s for work, Spaniards will not be allowed out of their own provinces until the end of June, at least.
What’s going on in the UK?
Boris Johnson announced the UK lockdown on March 23 and it began the very next day. The lockdown requirements are some of the most draconian the British people have ever faced. The Brits cannot leave their home without a “reasonable excuse” which includes shopping for food, exercise, medical reasons and work, if it can’t be done from home. Weddings have been cancelled. Only immediate family can attend funerals. Johnson recently announced the government will start to release its plans for lifting some elements of the lockdown on May 4, 3 days earlier than the original deadline.
What about Ireland?
The lockdown in Ireland is expected to begin its phased ending May 5, after the bank holiday, unless the Irish exhibit a lack of compliance with current measures. In that case, the lockdown could be extended. Assuming the economy begins to open up soon, it will be in waves over the next several months, or longer. In Ireland, politicians, public health officials and civil servants are having intense, complex discussions about how quickly and how best to open up the economy. There is a lot still to be determined in this “hammer and dance” approach.
When Can North Americans Visit Europe?
The possibility of American travelers entering Europe in the coming months depends a great deal on the results of the US battle with coronavirus. That said, European countries truly want us to be able to visit. When it is safe for us all to travel again, they will be waiting for us with open arms. Safety and security will take on a whole new meaning when we do get to travel abroad again. Airports, hotels, restaurants and museums will all create new ways to make sure we can visit safely in a post pandemic world. Even so, they will be glad to have us there as soon as it is possible. When that will be remains to be seen, but it will be several months, at least.
What Else Indicates When We Can Travel in Europe?
Following some of the major players in the travel industry can give us a good indication of when travel will resume. EasyJet is a British low-cost airline that typically flies all over Europe. They completely grounded their fleet a few weeks ago, with most of Europe in lockdown. They continue to reevaluate the situation in order to gain a better understanding of when it will be safe for them to offer flights again. For now, they are not selling any tickets for flights before May 18, 2020.
Viking was the first cruise line to temporarily suspend all operations of their river and ocean cruises on March 11, 2020. At the end of March, they made the difficult decision to continue the suspension of all sailings through the end of June. They want the world to be safe again before welcoming their guests on board. Keeping an eye on when they begin sailing again will help us understand when Europe will be able to fully open up to tourism.
Experts agree that travel restrictions in Europe will likely remain in place for many more weeks. It will take time to sort everything out. In addition, the travel industry itself will be developing new directives that will be necessary in order to emerge safely from this crisis.
As countries consider what to do as they emerge from lockdown, each one is generating a different plan. For the most part, borders remain closed for the moment. As countries decide what to do and what the timing will be, confusion abounds. Ursula Von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, has advised travelers to wait before making holiday plans, stating that no one can make reliable forecasts for July and August.
President Emmanuel Macron of France has called for the external borders of the Schengen Zone (most continental European countries) to remain closed until September. This has been interpreted as an additional indication that EU restrictions will remain in force for months to come.
We will get to travel to Europe again. It won’t be as soon as we would like, but we’ll get there. It will definitely be worth the wait.
Remember that we are always available to you and your friends and family to help you dream about travel to Europe, and create amazing trip plans when it’s safe to travel again. We are here for your custom trip planning to Italy, France, Ireland, the UK and all of Europe. We are experts in creating custom travel itineraries and leading small group trips to European destinations. We also book European cruises! Feel free to reach out via email — We’re always available to talk about travel!
Betsy Ball – Betsy is co-founder and partner of Euro Travel Coach (ETC), which crafts custom European vacations for independent travelers and leads small group trips to Europe. She is a passionate and culturally curious traveler who thoroughly enjoys sharing her love for exploring Europe with ETC clients. Prior to founding ETC, Betsy taught International Business at Tarleton State University in Texas (part of the A & M System) where she led study abroad trips to multiple European countries and other worldwide destinations. She retired from teaching two and a half years ago and now travels 9 months of the year in Europe. She has a degree in hotel, restaurant management from Michigan State University and an MBA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She also holds a Level 3 certification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust.
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