The New Reality of a European Trip: ‘Things Are Going to Change’

Making things even more complex is the fact that the rules frequently change. In Spain, nighttime curfews banning people from being outside between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. were reintroduced in some spots last week, including Barcelona.

“If you’ve come here to party then it could be disappointing, but if you are here for the food, beaches and cultural activities then the restrictions don’t really affect you,” said Mallory Hill, 37, a banker from Seattle, who is traveling around the Catalonian region for the next two weeks with family.

“What’s scary is how quickly the cases are going up here and the trend of vaccinated people getting sick. But there’s also a lot of misinformation and conflicting advice so it’s hard to decide whether we should stay or go all the way back home,” she said. “It looks pretty bad everywhere.”

Even some official advice can be contradictory. On July 26, the U.S. State Department issued a series of “do not travel” advisories for Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Britain because of a rising number of coronavirus cases in those countries, raising the warning level to a 4, the highest. But just days after that warning, the British government announced that fully vaccinated Americans could visit without having to quarantine.

Visiting Britain can also be challenging, because it uses a complex “traffic light” system that determines restrictions based on which country you are traveling from. The list also changes every three weeks, or earlier, depending on the status of the coronavirus in each destination.

So while Americans coming straight from the United States don’t have to quarantine, if they first visit France, they would be required to quarantine for 10 days and take multiple tests because of concerns over the prevalence of the Beta variant in that country.

Going from Britain to the countries of the European Union isn’t any easier. A growing number of countries in the bloc have imposed additional measures for travelers from Britain, including PCR tests and quarantine, because of the high rate of the Delta variant in Britain. All visitors traveling from Britain to Italy must present a negative Covid-19 test before departure, quarantine for five days upon arrival, and present another negative test at the end of their isolation period.

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