(CNN) — Fall is almost here, we’re approaching our seventh season of living with a pandemic, and yes, it still sucks.

Never mind, though, as CNN Travel is here as always to sharpen your pencils, straighten your rucksack and get you schooled in our weekly roundup of the latest developments in pandemic travel news.

1. France has banned unvaccinated American travelers

If American tourists want the chance to play beach volleyball in Saint-Malo, France, they'll need to have their jabs.

If American tourists want the chance to play beach volleyball in Saint-Malo, France, they’ll need to have their jabs.

Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP/Getty Images

However, the caution is reciprocated. France was added to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s highest-category risk list — “Level 4: Covid-19 very high” — back on August 9, meaning US citizens are already advised to avoid nonessential travel there.

2. And Spain has done the same

Tourists on Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in June 2021.

Tourists on Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in June 2021.

Jaime Reina/AFP/Getty Images

In a change from policy earlier this summer, Spain is allowing tourists from the United States only if they are fully vaccinated, the health ministry told CNN on Tuesday.

The new rule, which took effect this week, states that visitors from the United States on “nonessential travel,” such as tourism, must show “a vaccination certificate that the (Spanish) Ministry of Health recognizes as valid.”

Like France, Spain is on CDC’s highest-risk Level 4.

3. Cuba will start to reopen its borders in November

Cuba is changing faster than ever. See the vintage cars, the musicians and the stunning architecture as soon as you can.

Cuba’s state-run media has announced that the island will begin to reopen borders in November, despite a recent surge in Covid cases.

Cuba has been closed for much of the pandemic, which has hit the local tourism industry hard.

According to Cuba’s Ministry of Health, more than four million people on the island have been fully vaccinated with the island’s home-grown vaccines.

A statement from the Ministry of Tourism that was published on Monday in the Communist-party newspaper Granma said that Cuba will gradually reopen borders starting November 15 and will no longer require travelers to take a PCR test upon arrival.

4. Israel will reopen to small groups of tourists this month

Arrivals at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport in May 2021.

Arrivals at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport in May 2021.

Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

An Israeli pilot program to kick-start tourism will allow small foreign tour groups from selected countries, reports Reuters.

Fully vaccinated tour groups of between 5 and 30 people from countries on Israel’s green, yellow and orange lists will be allowed to enter the country, the tourism ministry said on September 5.

Individual tourists will still not be allowed to enter outside of a tour group, with exceptions being made for people visiting family members.

5. The Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc will reopen next month

Vietnam has taken a tough line with its Covid restrictions — this week a man was jailed for five years for spreading the virus — but there are still plans to revive its tourism industry.

(CNN) — France has become the latest European country — and the most significant tourism destination — to remove the United States from its safe travel list, following EU recommendations in the wake of a US Covid spike.

A French government decree issued on Thursday bumped the United States and Israel from the country’s “green” list, down to “orange,” effectively prohibiting nonessential travel to France for unvaccinated visitors.

Under France’s rules, unvaccinated travelers from either country will still be allowed in provided they have an essential reason for travel, however they’ll need a negative Covid-19 test before travel and must quarantine for seven days on arrival.

France’s move follow restrictions imposed on US travelers from several other European destinations. Earlier this week, Spain changed its entry policy for arrivals from the US, requiring them to have a certificate proving double vaccination.

Covid-battered economies

Italy last week began requiring all visitors, including those from the United States, to show proof of a PCR or antigen Covid test taken within 72 hours of travel, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.

Many European travel destinations reopened their borders to Americans earlier in the summer in the hope of attracting much needed tourism dollars to boost Covid-battered economies.

With Covid’s Delta variant spreading throughout the US, some countries, including Germany, had already begun restricting access to Americans prior to the EU recommendation. Others, such as Greece, insist they will remain open regardless of traveler vaccination status.

France is joining the list of European travel destinations tightening restrictions on U.S. tourists as COVID-19 cases surge due to the delta variant.

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 12, only vaccinated visitors will be allowed to visit for vacation, the French embassy confirmed Friday. Non-vaccinated travelers can only visit for essential reasons and need a negative COVID-19 test. They also must isolate for seven days upon arrival. Currently, unvaccinated tourists just need to show a negative COVID test to enter France.

The moves come after the European Union’s decision on Aug. 30 to remove the United States from its list of safe countries due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, essentially recommending a ban of nonessential travel such as vacations. It is only a recommendation, with individual countries setting their own travel policies.

France already requires vaccination proof or a COVID test to visit restaurants and ride on trains as well as to visit popular tourist destinations including museums and the Eiffel Tower.

►International travel:European Union countries tightening COVID-19 restrictions for US tourists

►Travel testing:Here’s what travelers should know about at-home COVID-19 tests

The NetherlandsSpain and Denmark are also banning unvaccinated U.S. tourists and Italy has added entry requirements, even for those who are vaccinated.

The new restrictions add up to another confusing maze of entry requirements for travelers planning fall visits to Europe.

Permitting entry for vaccinated travellers has become the most normal and acceptable fact of this summer, quite differently compared to April 2020 when SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that a vaccine would for sure become mandatory for those wishing to travel throughout the Schengen Area once it is approved and available. At the time, the idea was widely criticised and doubted.

Yet, being vaccinated against COVID-19, and being vaccinated with one of the vaccines accepted as valid proof of immunity by a destination country, have sometimes turned out to be two different things for some travellers.

Travellers’ excitement for the reopening of borders across the European Union Member States, in particular for those vaccinated, has recently been extinguished by the fact that some of the countries in the block accept only a limited number of COVID-19 vaccines as proof of immunity for travel into their territory.

France, one of the world’s top tourism destinations, is also among the countries that do not accept a wide number of COVID-19 vaccines as proof of immunity against the virus, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

In order to be eligible to enter France under their border reopening policy for vaccinated travellers amid COVID-19, one must be vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency.

Only vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be accepted, i.e. Pfizer (Comirnaty), Moderna, AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen),” the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs points out.

In order to be eligible to enter France as a vaccinated person, the traveller must be fully vaccinated, which means:

  • At least 14 days have passed since the second shot for two-shot vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca)
  • At least four weeks have passed after the shot for one-shot vaccines (Johnson & Johnson)

Travellers who have previously been infected with COVID-19, and have recovered, can enter France after two weeks of receiving the first jab of the vaccine.

Does France Accept Covishield Vaccine?

Unlike some other EU countries, like Belgium, which accepts the Covishield vaccine for entry, France does not.

The issue of the Covishield, the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India, has been widely discussed in the media recently, as the majority of EU countries do not accept this vaccine as valid, though they accept the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in Europe.

The CEO of the Indian manufacturer of this vaccine, the Serum Institute India (SII), Adar Poonawalla, has insisted that he has taken up the issue and is working to address it soon.

I realise that a lot of Indians who have taken Covishield are facing issues with travel to the EU, I assure everyone, I have taken this up at the highest levels and hope to resolve this matter soon, both with regulators and at a diplomatic level with countries,” he had stated on June 28.

However, the majority of EU members, including France, refuse to approve this vaccine without EMA authorising it first.

SchengenVisaInfo.com previously reported that nearly 300,000 Canadians who have received at least one shot

With summer already underway and UK residents desperate for sunnier skies, there could be a glimmer of hope for that last minute getaway.

An expert claims some 22 countries, including popular destinations such Italy and France as well as countries outside Europe, meet the government’s threshold for moving from the amber to green travel list.

Aviation consultant and former chief strategist for British Airways Robert Boyle told The Telegraph he has used an algorithm based on the data he says the UK government uses for the traffic light system. This determines which countries are safest for international travel.

The criteria states a country has to have an infection rate lower than 20 cases per 100,000 people and have a positive COVID-19 testing rate of less than 1.5 per cent.

“There seems to be nothing in the data the government says it is using that explains why they are languishing on the amber list at this point,” he told The Telegraph, adding, “there doesn’t even seem to be any obvious political logic for why two apparently similar countries get classified differently.”

What makes a ‘green list’ country?

But Paul Charles, chief executive officer and founder of specialist travel PR and brand consultancy The PC Agency says Boyle’s calculations are “nonsense”.

“Anyone that claims they’ve cracked the algorithm are talking nonsense. There is no algorithm the government is using,” Charles told Euronews Travel.

He said political, economic and health reasons are what determine the travel list for the UK and other countries, adding it was “no coincidence” that Germany removed quarantine on entry for UK citizens five days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with his German counterpart Angela Merkel.

Charles said he is “certain” that there will be changes to the travel list on July 15, when the UK will review which countries are safe to travel to.

In the last review on June 24, 16 countries or regions were moved from amber to green, including, Malta, Madeira and Spain’s Balearic Islands.

But Charles said any changes need to be made “urgently to salvage the summer.” If the UK government doesn’t, UK residents will not be so willing to travel and will also request refunds on pre-paid tickets, which will hurt the already wounded airline and travel industries.

He also urged the government to scrap COVID tests for passengers who are fully vaccinated as the cost and nuisance of it might deter travellers.

Which countries could be on the UK’s green list?

  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Lebanon
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Moldova
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam

What is the traffic light system?

Current rules state that returning from an amber list country means you would have to quarantine for 10 days, take a COVID-19 test as well as two further tests on day two and eight of arrival – and fill in a passenger locator form.

But from a green listed country, no quarantine is needed, unless the required COVID

DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: I’ve been trying for months to get a refund from Expedia for flights canceled during the pandemic. Although Expedia has politely replied to all my refund requests, I still don’t have my money.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter ...
Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter 

I used Expedia to book round-trip tickets from Boston to Paris on Air France last March. Just before the departure date, I received a text message from Air France. It said it canceled my flight from Boston to Paris because of the virus and rebooked me on a Delta flight instead. Air France transferred my flight without my knowledge or consent. Of course, Delta canceled its flight as well.

Since that time, I have made multiple requests for a refund of $568. Every time, Expedia has politely replied that the request is on the way, but there are delays because Air France is “overwhelmed” with the cancellation requests. An Expedia representative said it could take up to 12 weeks, but it’s been much longer. Can you help me get a refund for the canceled Air France flight?

— Liga Aldins, Westwood, Massachusetts

ANSWER: Air France owes you a prompt refund. If an airline cancels your flight, you’re entitled to an immediate refund. If you accept a rescheduled flight, then the same cancellation terms apply as before. Which is to say, if the airline cancels, you can get a full refund; if you cancel, you get a ticket credit. But you never accepted the new flight.

I see the back and forth between you and Expedia in the paper trail you provided. You were correct to lean on your online travel agent for a refund, but it looks as if the site was powerless to move your refund forward. It wasn’t even clear who had your money. Was it Air France, Delta or Expedia? (Answer: It was Air France.)

I understand that refunds are slower during the pandemic, but this is ridiculous. Working with Expedia should make the process move faster, since technically an online travel agent is your advocate.

You could have reached out to an executive at Expedia. I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of Expedia’s managers on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/expedia-customer-service-contacts/. If that didn’t work, you could have also reached out to Air France (www.elliott.org/company-contacts/air-france/) or Delta (www.elliott.org/company-contacts/delta-air-lines-customer-service-contacts/). Many readers have used the executive contacts for help getting refunds during the pandemic, and those executives were very responsive.

I like the fact that you kept all of your communication with Expedia in writing. That’s great if you have to prove you did your due diligence (which you certainly did). But at some point, you’ll need to escalate this to the next level.

By the way, if that doesn’t work, you can always file a dispute with your credit card company. That’s also worked for a lot of travelers seeking pandemic flight refunds.

I contacted Expedia on your behalf. It offered a $100 voucher to make up for the

(CNN) — If you’re struggling to know your PCRs from your CDCs from your PPEs, you’re not alone.

Luckily CNN Travel is here to help you unravel the rat’s nest that is the constantly changing world of global travel restrictions.

Come to these round-ups each week to learn about the countries relaxing entry rules, the attractions reopening the doors and the places that have shuttered because of Covid-19 outbreaks.

Explainers explained

The EU digital Covid-19 certificate for travel can be opened to non-EU international travelers, including those from the United States, subject to individual member states’ acceptance of proof of vaccination, a negative test result or recovery from Covid infection, an EU Commission spokesperson told CNN on June 2.

Our travel elves have been working around the clock to put together explainers on all the latest twists and turns in travel guidance.

In Europe or hoping to travel there? The EU Digital Covid Certificate — known informally as a “Covid vaccine passport” — will be issued by July 1. CNN Travel gives you the lowdown here on who’s eligible, how to get one, and which countries have started using it.
In the United States? The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new travel advice for more than 120 countries. Thirty-three destinations — including Iceland, Israel and Singapore — have moved into the lowest risk category. Find out more here.

Cruise news

first cruise ship sail celebrity millennium caribbean trnd

On board Celebrity Millennium, part of the Celebrity Cruises group.

Colleen McDaniel/Cruise Critic

Celebrity Millennium — the first major cruise ship allowing American passengers since the pandemic began — set off last weekend from Sint Maarten. Its first port of call was Barbados, which is now welcoming fully vaccinated travelers.
It’ll depart from Florida in May 2022 with a select 500 guests on board a 2,800-passenger ship. However, the most on-brand sitcom-meets-cruise adventure is still “Golden Fan at Seas,” a celebration of “The Golden Girls,” which is also set to return next year.
Luxury barging specialist European Waterways plans to resume barge cruises this June. It serves nine countries, including France, Germany, Holland and Italy.

The latest from Europe

Tourists walk toward the Erechtheion on the Acropolis hill in Athens on June 4.

Tourists walk toward the Erechtheion on the Acropolis hill in Athens on June 4.

Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

The EU has a white list of countries from which nonessential travel into the bloc is approved: Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Japan and Australia.

While the European Union is trying to create more universal requirements for tourism, conditions of entry differ from country to country.

Spain opened to vaccinated travelers from outside the EU on June 7 while France opened in international travelers on June 9 (the same day as it resumed indoor dining and the national curfew moved to 11 p.m.)

Those on France’s “green list” — vaccinated travelers from the European Union, Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand and Singapore — can enter restriction-free.

By Ange Aboa

JACQUEVILLE, Ivory Coast (Reuters) – Ivory Coast and France inaugurated a new counter-terrorism academy in the West African country on Thursday, intended to boost regional capacity to combat a growing Islamist threat.

The International Academy for the Fight Against Terrorism (AILCT), in the outskirts of Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan, will include a school for government officials, a training centre for special forces, and a research institute.

It comes as Ivory Coast faces increasing attacks from jihadist groups based to the north in Mali and Burkina Faso, who are trying to expand their reach toward the Gulf of Guinea. One soldier was killed in an attack in northern Ivory Coast this week.

“The questions before us are clear: how to fight effectively against terrorist groups that are more mobile than ever… how to prevent them from importing their strategy here,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at the academy’s opening.

“Regional states must step up their military cooperation, their security cooperation, and their judicial cooperation,” he said, adding that AILCT will help with this goal.

France has a 5,100-strong counter-terrorism force in the Sahel region, but according to two sources French President Emmanuel Macron is due to announce a troop reduction on Thursday.

Le Drian will travel on Friday to Burkina Faso, where at least 132 civilians were killed last week in the deadliest attack in years, pushing the number of people killed by suspected Islamists in the Sahel to over 500 since January.

(Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

By Ange Aboa

JACQUEVILLE, Ivory Coast (Reuters) – Ivory Coast and France inaugurated a new counter-terrorism academy in the West African country on Thursday, intended to boost regional capacity to combat a growing Islamist threat.

The International Academy for the Fight Against Terrorism (AILCT), in the outskirts of Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan, will include a school for government officials, a training centre for special forces, and a research institute.

It comes as Ivory Coast faces increasing attacks from jihadist groups based to the north in Mali and Burkina Faso, who are trying to expand their reach toward the Gulf of Guinea. One soldier was killed in an attack in northern Ivory Coast this week.

“The questions before us are clear: how to fight effectively against terrorist groups that are more mobile than ever… how to prevent them from importing their strategy here,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at the academy’s opening.

“Regional states must step up their military cooperation, their security cooperation, and their judicial cooperation,” he said, adding that AILCT will help with this goal.

France has a 5,100-strong counter-terrorism force in the Sahel region, but according to two sources French President Emmanuel Macron is due to announce a troop reduction on Thursday.

Le Drian will travel on Friday to Burkina Faso, where at least 132 civilians were killed last week in the deadliest attack in years, pushing the number of people killed by suspected Islamists in the Sahel to over 500 since January.

(Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

PARIS — Europe is opening up to Americans and other visitors after more than a year of COVID-induced restrictions, in hope of luring back tourists – and their dollars – to the continent’s trattorias, vistas and cultural treasures. But travelers will need patience to figure out who’s allowed into which country, how and when.

As the European Union’s doors reopen one by one to the outside world for the first time since March 2020, tourists will discover a patchwork of systems instead of a single border-free leisure zone, because national governments have resisted surrendering control over their frontiers amid the pandemic. And post-Brexit Britain is going its own way altogether.

Meanwhile, the welcoming mood isn’t always mutual. U.S. borders, for example, remain largely closed to non-Americans.

Here’s a look at current entry rules in some popular European tourist destinations. One caveat: While these are the regulations as written by governments, travelers may meet hiccups as airlines or railway officials try to make sense of them.

► Have COVID vaccine, will travel:  These are the countries open to fully vaccinated Americans

France

If you’re vaccinated, come to France. But only if you got one of the four EU-approved vaccines: Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. That works for Americans – as long as they can produce official proof of vaccination – but not for large swaths of the world like China and Russia where other vaccines are used.

France’s borders officially reopened Wednesday. Vaccinated visitors from outside Europe and a few “green” countries will still be asked for a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours, or a negative antigen test of no more than 48 hours. Unvaccinated children will be allowed in with vaccinated adults, but will have to show a negative test from age 11.

France puts out welcome sign for Americans: But only if they’re vaccinated against COVID

Tourists are banned from 16 countries wrestling with virus surges and worrisome variants that are on a red list that includes India, South Africa and Brazil.

Non-vaccinated visitors from “orange list” countries – including the U.S. and Britain – can’t come for tourism either, only for specific, imperative reasons.

Italy

Italy announced that Americans can enter and bypass quarantine with a negative COVID test taken no more than 48 hours prior to entry; vaccinated travelers are not exempt from the testing requirements.

Americans – the second-biggest group of foreign tourists to Italy – have been welcome since mid-May and international tourists in general have been welcome since June 3. However, they need to self-isolate upon arrival for 10 days unless they arrive on so-called “COVID-tested flights.” That means passengers are tested before and after the flight and must fill out documents about their whereabouts to facilitate contact tracing if required.

“COVID-tested” flights from the U.S. started in December and have also been operating since May from Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

Italy also started allowing tourists from Britain and Israel last month, meaning they no longer need an “essential” reason to visit and don’t have to self-isolate, providing they present proof of a negative COVID test taken no more than 48 hours prior to arrival.