European Travel in 2021. What is it going to be like?
March 22, 2021/in /by Brett

European Travel 2021: What is it going to look like?

An Educated Guess

As more people are getting vaccinated against Covid19 and case numbers are starting to go down, many people are starting to feel a glimmer of hope that they might be able to travel internationally later this year. Some of you might wonder what that would be like and what precautions are being put into place in Europe to make sure that travel is safe, so we’ve put together a quick summary of what travel might look like later this year (this is our “best guess,” so as always, please check the current situation before embarking on any travel!).

It is clear that two sets of rules will be established to regulate all aspects of travel in Europe for the rest of 2021. One set of rules will be for people who are vaccinated (or who have recovered from Covid-19) and who can produce some sort of officially recognized certificate to prove they have been vaccinated. The second set of rules will be for those people who are not vaccinated.

We will only address the rules that apply to vaccinated people as we assume that our travelers coming to Europe from the U.S.A, Canada, and the U.K. will only be travelling if they are vaccinated.

The European Union has recently unveiled a plan for a Digital Green Certificate which would allow European Union Citizens (E.U. citizens) to travel more freely within the bloc this summer. The certificates would be free and available in digital or paper format. It would allow people to skip quarantine and testing requirements if they can prove that they have been vaccinated.

Vaccinated people will simply be able to enter and move around Europe much easier than non-vaccinated travelers because they will not be subject to testing requirements that non-vaccinated people will have to endure. The proposal is still pending a vote and each country in the E.U. will have its own specific regulations. We will update our information and keep anybody booked on one of tours up to date.

We mention this pending European development because eventually a similar protocol will surely be put into place for non. E.U. citizens which would therefore apply to American, Canadian, British, Australian and New Zealand citizens. Some E.U. countries are already making bilateral “travel partnerships” with other nations to ensure an open door to international tourists. For example, Greece has already done this with Israel and is working on a deal with 10 more countries, including the U.K., Canada, and the U.S.

Once you’re in Europe as a vaccinated traveler:

* Masks: you can expect there to be a mask mandate in most countries. Throughout the past year the general rule in Italy has been that you have to wear a mask when indoors or if you’re outdoors but in proximity to other people. You’re allowed to take your mask off if you’re jogging, biking, or hiking and able to maintain a two-meter physical distance from other people. Even though you will be vaccinated, it is probable that mask wearing will still be required for everyone, otherwise it would be impossible to “police”.

* Shops: most stores will be open, although there might be limits on the number of people who can enter at one time. Some shops will take your temperature before they let you in.

* Museums: most museums will be open, though you may need to book your entry time (check with the museum website) and you have to wear a mask.

* Restaurants & Bars: in all likelihood outdoor dining will be allowed and indoor dining MAY be allowed but with limited numbers. You have to wear your mask as you enter and exit or move around the space but you can take it off to eat and drink (good thing!). It is plausible that some indoor spaces within a restaurant that can be “quarantined” from the rest of the restaurant can be reserved for vaccinated diners and staff, but for the time being that is hypothetical.

* Trains & Planes: train travel shouldn’t be disrupted, though they may limit capacity to 50% (last summer, for example, the regional trains in Italy had every other seat blocked off). Flights may have limited capacity but that’s up to the airline and we’re not sure yet about current conditions.

* Taxis, buses and Cars: taxis are freely available and the drivers wear a mask. Buses are running as normal and you need to wear a mask. If you decide to drive, you’ll have to check with the rules for passenger capacity and mask wearing. Now, for example, you have to wear a mask if there are passengers who are not from your immediate household, and you’re supposed to try and space people out in the car as much as possible. Again, please see current rules at the time of travel.

* Crowds: it’s best to avoid crowded situations, and people in Europe are pretty conscious about keeping physical distance. The good thing is that there fewer people traveling than normal, so if you are vaccinated it’s actually a great time to visit European cities!

* Hotels: hotels are eager to have guests to stay so most have established exceptional cleaning practices to make sure the rooms are completely sterilized between every visitor. None of them want the stigma of having been a repository of Covid!

Your guides: they have lived through the Covid lockdown in Europe for over a year, so know what it’s like and how things work. They can help steer you through any special requirements and make sure you know what to do. Unfortunately, many of them might not have had the chance to get vaccinated before this summer but that shouldn’t affect their ability to work. There is talk of giving priority to frontline tourism workers (guides, hotel receptionists, restaurant staff, etc.), in which case our guides may be vaccinated sooner than presently anticipated.

It will be a different travel experience in 2021 but all European countries are eager to get their tourism industry going again, and they will all be doing their utmost to facilitate travel. As you know, our walks and hikes are on trails where we seldom see anyone else (except for parts of the Cinque Terre and some parts of the Dolomites) so it is easy for us to hike in peace, and without a mask. Given that we expect all of our travelers to be vaccinated, our “tour bubbles” will be safe. If the only inconvenience is wearing a mask, that’s a small price to pay to be able to travel again! The views will be even more magnificent, the food and wine even more delicious, and the history and culture so much more fascinating since it was off-limits for so long. In fact, many of Europe’s gems will shine even brighter this year as tourism numbers will still be down more than 50% , so 2021 will be a rare opportunity to enjoy a more relaxed, less crowded European travel experience.

Finally, we will be overjoyed to welcome you back on one of our tours. We can’t wait to get out on the trail with you and celebrate together the magnificent scenery we encounter on our adventures. Come join us, and help make 2021 a more positive year for us all.  

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