A number of countries are tightening travel restrictions against people from the United States in light of the new guidance from the European Union, but at least one member state – Portugal – plans to remain open for now. 

The EU removed the U.S. from its safe travel list on Monday, a move that signaled that travel restrictions should no longer be eased for Americans given the country’s COVID-19 case counts. August was the fourth-worst month for cases in the U.S., with almost 4.22 million new coronavirus cases reported.

In light of the news, EU member state Bulgaria announced it would move the U.S. into its “red zone” and prohibit travel from the United States as the country faces its fourth surge of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, all people from the U.S., regardless of vaccination status, cannot enter Bulgaria. There are a number of exemptions, including travelers with Bulgarian or EU citizenship. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and State Department have each labeled Bulgaria as a Level 3 destination, meaning unvaccinated Americans are advised to “avoid nonessential travel” to the country. Bulgaria reported more than 10,600 new COVID-19 cases in the past week and has more than 16% of its adult population fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

Other countries have been tightening restrictions on American travelers. Earlier this week, Italy updated its entry requirements so that vaccinated travelers from the U.S. would have to take a pre-departure coronavirus test and unvaccinated travelers would have to test for the virus multiple times and self-isolate at least five days. 

Portugal plans to stay open to US travelers

Meanwhile, EU member state Portugal will remain open to U.S. tourists, according to a press release from Visit Portugal, the country’s tourism authority.

“Portugal has confirmed that discretionary, non-essential travel is still allowed, provided visitors present a negative COVID-19 test result at boarding and entry into the country,” the statement reads. 

The CDC suggests avoiding travel to Portugal due to its COVID-19 rates. The country has more than 73% of its adult population vaccinated and reported more than 15,100 new cases in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

► Can Americans visit Europe this fall?:It’s complicated, after the EU decision. What travelers need to know.

► EU takes US off safe country list:Recommends Europe travel restrictions tighten for Americans

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Spain’s top diplomat pushed back Friday against French cautions over vacationing in the Iberian peninsula, as southern Europe’s holiday hotspots worry that repeated changes to rules on who can visit is putting people off travel.

On Thursday, France’s secretary of state for European affairs, Clément Beaune, advised people to “avoid Spain and Portugal as destinations” when booking their holidays because the French government is considering restrictions on travel to the Iberian neighbors, where COVID-19 infections are surging.

Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya said the current surge is not translating into more hospitalizations and urged people to be “proportionate” in their response to pandemic trends.

“This is a time for prudence, not for panicking,” she said at a press conference in Madrid. “There is no reason at the moment to ask people to cancel their vacations.”

Visiting French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian urged people to have a COVID-19 jab before travelling.

“The vaccine is the door to Spain,” he said.

Millions of tourists arriving every year in Spain and Portugal are crucial for the Iberian countries’ economies and jobs. Both hope tourism will help drive an economic recovery after the pandemic.

French tourists staying away would be a major blow.

For Iberian tourism businesses, last year was mostly a washout due to COVID-19 lockdowns and local and international travel restrictions.

This year is turning out to be a wild ride, as rules have flip-flopped amid efforts to resume leisure travel.

Germany on Friday labelled the whole of Spain as a “risk area,” potentially discouraging travel there.

Portugal has also been clobbered by changing rules.

Last month, Portuguese companies cheered when the country was placed on the U.K.’s “green list,” permitting British tourists to skip quarantine when returning home. Three weeks later, amid a surge in COVID-19 infections, Portugal was axed from the list and the British market dried up.

There are hopes this could change again after July 19, when the British government scraps the requirement for people going abroad to quarantine, as long as they are fully vaccinated.

Germany this week eased its recent strict restrictions on travel to Portugal, which had disheartened the Portuguese tourism sector. Now, a negative test is enough for Germans returning from holiday to avoid quarantining.

“Everyone keeps chopping and changing their rules,” Eliderico Viegas, head of Portugal’s Algarve Hotel and Resort Association, a representative body, said. “France, and before it Germany, are good examples of that.”

Portugal, like Spain, was expecting this summer to be less bad than last year. The French minister’s comments have changed that outlook, according to Viegas.

“There’s no doubt that demand will fall now,” he told the Associated Press.

Germany is easing strict restrictions on travel from Britain, Portugal and some other countries that were imposed because of the rise of the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus

BERLIN — Germany is easing strict restrictions on travel from Britain, Portugal and some other countries that were imposed because of the rise of the more contagious delta virus variant.

Germany’s national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said late Monday that Britain, Portugal, Russia, India and Nepal will be removed from the country’s highest risk category of “virus variant areas” effective Wednesday. They will move into the second-highest category of “high-incidence areas.”

Airlines and others are restricted largely to transporting German citizens and residents from “virus variant areas,” and those who arrive must spend 14 days in quarantine at home.

People arriving from “high incidence areas,” however, can avoid quarantine if they can prove that they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19. Others can cut short a mandatory 10-day quarantine by testing negative after five days. Transport is no longer restricted.

Officials have said the listings would be reviewed as the proportion of infections caused by the delta variant in Germany rises. Although overall case numbers are very low, more than half of new cases are now believed to be caused by delta.

Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated during a visit to Britain on Friday that the restrictions on travel from the U.K. would soon be relaxed.

Eleven countries will remain on Germany’s “virus variant area” list for now: Botswana, Brazil, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Uruguay.

———

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Spain has confirmed that it will require British visitors to either be fully vaccinated or present a negative Covid test for entry from 2 July, following a month of no restrictions.

Malta tightened its rules to say it would only admit vaccinated British travellers aged 12 and over, which effectively ends any hope of a family holiday; while Portugal demands quarantine from those who haven’t been fully jabbed.

Meanwhile, hopes are fading for US-UK travel to restart before the end of the summer. According to reports, travel between the two nations is unlikely to resume anytime soon, despite intense pressure from airlines and lobby groups.

Travel between the US and the UK, usually a thriving market, has been largely frozen since March 2020.

Key points

  • Stricter entry requirements for Spain to come into force from Friday
  • US-UK air corridor delayed until ‘end of summer’
  • Malta and Portugal tighten entry requirements

When does green list come into effect?

17:42 , Cathy Adams

As a reminder, the expanded “green list”, which now includes Malta, the Balearics and Madeira, will come into force at 4am on Wednesday 30 June.

That means if you’re arriving in the UK from a green-rated destination after that time, you won’t be required to self-isolate.

Here’s a full list of all the green grade:



water next to the building


© Provided by The Independent


Which countries are on the green list?

While these territories have been added, all new additions bar Malta remain on the “green watchlist”, meaning they are at risk of turning amber.

How to get a cheap PCR test for travel

17:16 , Cathy Adams

Chances are your travel plans now will involve some sort of PCR test: either as a “Fit to Fly” before you depart, or when you return back to the UK.

UK travellers are not permitted to use the free NHS testing service and must instead go through a private firm to obtain their result although, increasingly, travel firms are luring holidaymakers with discounted or subsidised travel tests.

All returning travellers, meanwhile, will be required to take at least two tests: one before departing for the UK, which can be a lateral flow or rapid antigen; and at least one PCR test within two days of arrival to the UK, depending on whether they’ve been to a green, amber or red country.

The average cost of a PCR test is about £120, but we’ve put together a handy guide to some of the cheapest on the market.






© Provided by The Independent


PCR tests for travel: The cheapest ways to buy one

Update to Maltese entry rules

17:13 , Cathy Adams

Malta has updated its entry requirements for Britons, due to come into force tomorrow. Only those fully vaccinated, aged 12 and above, will be allowed to enter the country.

The Malta Ministry for Health now says that all UK arrivals must present proof of full vaccination “in the form of the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate Letter issued by the NHS”.

It adds: “Only the paper

Travelling to Germany from Portugal & Russia will be banned starting from Tuesday, June 29, due to the high number of cases of the Coronavirus Delta variant detected in both countries in recent weeks.

The German Robert Koch Institute, a German federal government agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention, has unfolded on Friday, June 25, the new list of countries with COVID-19 variants, including both Russia and Portugal in the list.

The move means that aside from citizens and residents of Germany, all other travel from both these countries will be prohibited.

German citizens and residents who reach Germany from June 29 and on will be subject to a fortnight of quarantine, regardless of whether they are vaccinated against the virus or have tested negatively. The option to end the quarantine early with a negative test is not available for these travellers.

According to the head of the RKI, Robert Wieler, the Delta variant is expected to become the dominant strain in Germany by the autumn.

Currently, Germany bans travel from the following countries, which are considered to have a high number of COVID-19 cases:

  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Eswatini
  • India
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Portugal
  • Russian Federation
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • South Africa
  • Uruguay
  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of the Isle of Man, including the Channel Islands and all British Overseas Territories

As per countries in the other categories, following Friday’s update of the RKI, no new countries have been added to the list of the high incidence areas since the last change.

On the other hand, both Rwanda and Fiji are now considered new simple risk areas with increased SARS-CoV-2 infection risk, as well as Croatia’s Zadar County.

Several other countries have been removed from the list of risk areas, including Denmark, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovenia, and the Netherlands.  Croatia’s Varaždin County is no longer considered a risk area, as well as all of Sweden, with the exception of the provinces Kronoberg, Norrbotten and Värmland.

Since June 25, 2021, Germany has permitted fully vaccinated third-country travellers for non-essential purposes like tourism and visiting friends and family members if two weeks have passed since they were fully vaccinated.

Previously on June 20, travellers from the USA, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Albania, Serbia, North Macedonia and Lebanon have been permitted to enter Germany regardless of their vaccination status after the government decided to include these countries in the list of epidemiologically safe third countries, upon a recommendation of the EU Council.

By BARRY HATTON, Associated Press

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal’s battle to contain the surging COVID-19 delta variant has prompted it to put the United Kingdom on its red list for travel, speed up vaccinations in Lisbon and cancel school classes in the southern Algarve region, its main tourist destination.

Portugal has in recent days been reporting the highest number of daily new coronavirus cases since February. Though hospitals are comfortably coping with new virus admissions, officials say the increase of about 30% over the past week was a worrying trend.

On Monday, the number of coronavirus patients in hospital surpassed 500 for the first time since early April.

The country’s 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate per 100,000 people, meanwhile, rose to 162 — the highest officially recorded since early March.

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Lisbon, the capital, is one of Portugal’s hot spots, with a case rate of 438. The city council said Monday it will extend the opening hours of vaccine centers, with people over 50 allowed to walk in without an appointment. Already last week, Lisbon doubled the number of jabs being administered over seven days, with more than 46,000. The next goal is 65,000 a week.

Also, British travelers who aren’t vaccinated must quarantine for two weeks after arriving in Portugal, the Portuguese government announced Monday. The delta variant is believed to account for almost all of the United Kingdom’s new COVID-19 cases.

British arrivals can quarantine at their home or in a place stipulated by Portuguese health authorities. Arrivals from Brazil, India and South Africa come under the same rule.

All those entering Portugal must show either the European Union’s COVID Digital Certificate or a negative PCR test.

Health authorities in southern Portugal’s Algarve region, known for its numerous beaches and sunny weather, canceled in-person classes for children up to 16 years old in a bid to break transmission chains in five towns, including the well-known vacation spots Albufeira and Faro.

Thousands of British tourists visited the Algarve earlier this month when the British government briefly allowed easier travel to Portugal.

The Algarve Regional Health Authority said classes would stop Monday for at least 12 days. It didn’t say how many students would be affected.

Albufeira’s 14-day COVID-19 case notification rate per 100,000 people stands at 583, it said.

Portugal was the worst-hit country in the world, in terms of weekly infections, in January. But an extended lockdown contained the spread.

Since the pandemic began, Portugal has officially recorded around 870,000 cases of COVID-19 and about 17,000 deaths.

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https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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Germany has classified Portugal and Russia as so-called coronavirus variant countries, and banned most arrivals from those countries.

Beginning Tuesday, only citizens and residents of Germany will be allowed to travel to Germany from Portugal and Russia.

Those allowed to enter from Russia and Portugal will be subject to a two-week quarantine, regardless of whether they can provide a negative COVID-19 test.

Both Russia and Portugal are currently reporting a surge in cases over the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Worries over delta becoming dominant variant

German health authorities have issued repeated warnings about the delta variant, which was first detected in India and is prevalent in Britain.

Robert Wieler, who heads the disease control agency Robert Koch Institute (RKI), has said the delta variant is expected to become the dominant strain in Germany by the autumn.

Portugal and Russia join a list that includes 14 other countries, including the UK, India, South Africa and Brazil, where highly transmissible variants have been spreading.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday urged fellow EU leaders to take a firm line on travel from Britain to prevent the variant spreading in the bloc

kbd/sri (AFP, Reuters)

The Portuguese government will limit travel to and from the greater Lisbon area during the weekend following an increase in coronavirus cases in the region.

The restrictions on movement will apply from 3 p.m. on Friday, with exceptions including international travel, Presidency Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said at a press conference in Lisbon on Thursday. “Apparently there is a greater prevalence of the delta variant” in the Lisbon region, the minister said.

The government is trying to contain a surge of infections around the capital city and had already said on June 9 that the next step of a plan to gradually ease confinement measures across the country wouldn’t apply in Lisbon. Portugal aims to administer at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose to 70% of its adult population by Aug. 8.

  • Portugal reported 1,233 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, mostly in the Lisbon region. That’s down from 1,350 new cases on Wednesday, which was the highest number of daily cases since Feb. 24. The latest figures are still a fraction of the daily record of more than 16,000 cases reported at the end of January, when the country faced one of the world’s worst outbreaks.

Portugal is the latest European country to open its borders to U.S. travelers.

The country announced Tuesday that tourists from the U.S. would be permitted to enter the country, as long as they provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. 

Travelers 2 years and older must take a nucleic acid amplification test – such as a PCR test – within the last 72 hours before boarding, or a rapid antigen test within 24 hours of boarding. 

Various COVID-19 restrictions are still in various places across Portugal. Masks are required at beaches while entering and moving around, and visitors must keep at least 1.5 meters (around 5 feet) between their towels while lounging. Social distance measures and masks are also enforced in closed public spaces, and masks are mandatory when social distancing is not possible, according to the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Portugal. 

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United Airlines is the first U.S. carrier to resume flights to Portugal this summer, according to a statement from the company. Daily flights from New York and Newark, New Jersey will begin July 1. 

Ministers removed Portugal from the travel “green list” amid increasing worries that coronavirus variants could scupper domestic reopening, with studies indicating the type now dominant in the UK is almost twice as likely to cause serious illness as the one it replaced.

The removal of Portugal – the only mainstream tourist destination to which Britons could travel without quarantining on return – and the lack of any new green list countries provoked fury and plunging share prices within the travel industry, and warnings of job losses.

Portugal, including Madeira and the Azores, will be moved to the amber list on Tuesday. Seven more countries will be added to the red list, to which virtually all travel is effectively prohibited.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said that as well as rising Covid test positivity rates in Portugal, what he called a “difficult decision” hinged on worries about variants, particularly a possible additional mutation of the Delta variant.

 'Safety first': Grant Shapps on Portugal's removal from travel 'green list' – video
‘Safety first’: Grant Shapps on Portugal’s removal from travel ‘green list’ – video

Data from Public Health England released on Thursday evening has shown that the Delta variant, first detected in India, is dominant in the UK, now accounting for 75% of cases.

It also indicated that the Delta variant appears significantly more likely to cause serious illness than the Alpha variant of Covid, which has been dominant across the UK since being first detected in Kent in the autumn.

While the PHE team stressed more research was needed, an analysis of 38,805 sequenced cases in England showed that Delta variant had 1.67 time more change of patients needing emergency care or hospitalisation within 14 days than the Alpha, once demographic factors and vaccination status were taken into account.

Data from Scotland pointing to a more than twofold higher risk of hospitalisation for those infected with the Delta variant compared with the Alpha.

Shapps tied the decision over Portugal to fears that returning travellers could bring in more variants, further jeopardising the government’s timetable to end many remaining Covid restrictions on 21 June.

There is still no decision as to whether the planned reopening will happen then, or if restrictions might need to be extended so more people can be vaccinated. A decision is due by 14 June.

“We just don’t know the potential for that to be a vaccine-defeating mutation, and we don’t want to take the risk as we come up to 21 June and the review of the fourth stage of the unlock,” he said in a TV interview.

Shapps highlighted what he called “a sort of Nepal mutation”. A mutation of the Delta variant, this is suspected of potentially being more resistant to vaccines, but is not under observation by PHE. It has been seen in numerous countries, but only once in Nepal. which carries out very little genome sequencing for Covid.

As news leaked out about the green list decision, hours before the official announcement, it wiped hundreds of millions of pounds off the value of tour operators and