Second US to EU Travel Ban Extension Confirmed on July 30

After the initial travel ban exemption list for travelers into the European Union (EU) was created on July 1, where the U.S. was left out, the first extension of the EU travel ban to US travelers came on July 16, when the EU conducted its first fortnightly review. As of this Thursday, July 30, the US has once again been left out of the approved list of countries from which international travelers can enter the European Economic Area (EEA).

The EU’s simple criterion for putting countries on the travel ban exemption list was that the country in question must match the EU in terms of being able to control the spread of COVID-19 infections. The U.S. has been unable to do that through the month of July as cases have started rising again in several states.

As of July 30, the countries from which traveling to EU states is allowed are Australia, Canada, China (subject to China opening up entry to EU nationals), Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay.

EU citizens are already allowed to enter if they were overseas when the travel restrictions first began, as are their family members and other essential travelers.

According to reports from the New York Times, the EU had an average COVID-19 infection rate of 16 people per 100,000 as of June; in contrast, the United States had an average of 107 per 100,000.

The U.S. is still a major hotbed for the novel coronavirus, as the lack of federal guidance and the virtual absence of any leadership at the highest levels has left the states to fend for themselves. State governors have been struggling against a growing number of protests against stay-at-home orders, mask-wearing, social distancing, and other forms of restrictions intended to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Counterintuitively, President Trump himself, in April, appeared to instigate protestors:

“In a series of all-caps tweets that started two minutes after a Fox News report on the protesters, the president declared, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” — two states whose Democratic governors have imposed strict social distancing restrictions. He also lashed out at Virginia, where the state’s Democratic governor and legislature have pushed for strict gun control measures, saying: “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

If the situation persists, there’s no doubt the EU will continue to leave the United States out of the approved list when it reviews its travel ban exemption list again in a fortnight from July 30.

As of July 30, these are the shocking statistics for the damage that the novel coronavirus has caused in the U.S.:

Total Cases: 4.5 million

Total Deaths: 152,000

The map below shows where the spread is on the rise, where it is plateauing, and where it is reducing.

EU travel ban exemption list leaves out the US again and this is why

As you can see, apart from the 10 states marked in green, the rest of the U.S. is seeing fortnight-over-fortnight increases in daily infection rates.

In the short term, it seems improbable that the U.S. will be able to show infection metrics to match those of the EU, thereby allowing regulators to add America to the list of countries from which entry into its ports is allowed. For now, the status quo on the travel ban is being maintained for a further two weeks.

Returning to Australia during the Pandemic? 5 Things You Should Know

The COVID-19 pandemic is already seeing second waves across the globe. In Australia, specifically, there were 363 new cases of infection reported on Sunday, July 19, 2020, in Victoria. Mask-wearing has become mandatory, per Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, who also confirmed that 300,000 of the 3 million masks ordered by the state government are due to arrive within the week. As such, there’s still a blanket ban on travel from and to Australia except for citizens, residents, and immediate family members. If you are eligible and are looking at returning to Australia during the pandemic-triggered border shutdown, there are certain things for you to be aware of.

  1. Be prepared for travel delays and last-minute flight disruptions: Plan your travel well in advance but be ready to wing it. Make sure you check with the local authorities regarding exit requirements; this includes countries of transit. Keep checking with your travel agent for updated information because flight availability is extremely volatile at this point in time.
  2. Don’t travel if you don’t have to: Consider all options before returning to Australia. The COVID-19 threat is still very much a clear and present danger. If you can remain safe where you are and have the option to stay longer, use it.
  3. Get ready for a two-week quarantine: You may be subjected to a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days depending on where you’re returning to Australia from. Inter-state restrictions may also apply on arrival, so make sure you can make it all the way home if you decide to make the trip back to Australia from another country.
  4. Know the rules regarding travel exemptions: Non-citizens who are immediate family members or New Zealand citizens living in Australia can apply to return to Australia but there is a window of 3 months to 4 weeks prior to the date of travel during which your application must be submitted. In addition, you should be aware of the quarantine requirements and other restrictions upon arrival.
  5. Make alternative arrangements if your trip falls through: In this unpredictable environment, always have a Plan B in place in case your original travel plans do not materialize. Flights may be canceled, transit points might close on short notice, and other hindrances may affect your safe return to Australia. As such, ensure you have other options to fall back on, should anything untoward happen.

If you absolutely need to return to Australia for whatever reason, you can take a chance and make travel arrangements. However, be flexible with your travel dates and always have a contingency plan, as outlined above. Most of all, re-evaluate your situation and determine whether it is absolutely necessary for you to return home. If you have family or close friends outside the country where you know you can stay safe, that might be a better option for a few months. Until a vaccine or a cure is officially announced and made widely available, this will be the status quo for traveling from and returning to Australia.

On a lighter note, if you are or your family is overseas and you’re looking for a unique way to communicate with them, consider a Wi-FI touch light set-up. It’s a great way to say “I love you and I’m thinking of you” from miles away, and it works anywhere in the world.

Travel from the U.S. to These Countries is Now Allowed [July 2020 Update]

International travel rules are a mess of misinformation and confusion because of rising COVID-19 infection rates around the world. While many countries have relaxed such restrictions for travelers from low-infection-rate countries, the regulations are in a constant state of evolution. As such, it pays to stay abreast of the latest information if you’re planning to travel from the United States to another country for the purpose of visiting a person you’re in a long-distance relationship with. Here are the countries currently open to accepting visitors who travel from the U.S. If you’re in the States and are in a long-distance relationship with someone from one of the countries listed here, you’re in luck. Depending on your eligibility and whether you’re okay with the conditions imposed, you may be able to book a flight and finally get to be with your significant other across the border.

First of all, a lot of Americans don’t know the answer to the question: “Can I leave the U.S. and travel to another country?” The answer is “Yes, you can.” Although the latest travel advisory issued by the government is to “Avoid All Travel”, which is a Level 4, you are allowed to leave the country. The only catch is that you may be forced into quarantine for two weeks when you return, but that’s based on which state you’re returning to. You may also be subjected to tests, symptom checks, and additional requirements at the port of arrival.

These are the countries and territories you can visit at this moment, but please check with local authorities before you travel to make sure the allowance is still in place. Also, make sure you have all the required documentation to be allowed to make the trip.

U.S. Virgin Islands

No testing or quarantine if you don’t have symptoms such as an elevated temperature on arrival.

UAE (United Arab Emirates)

As of July 7, 2020, passengers arriving at Dubai from the United States are required to provide a ‘health declaration’, must have the necessary health coverage in terms of insurance, and must carry a negative CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel test (PCR test) that is no older than 4 days (96 hours.)

Mexico

No testing required. Any U.S. passport holder is allowed entry into the country. Hotels in key tourist destinations such as Cabo, Cancun, and Playa De Carmen are now open for international tourists as well.

Puerto Rico

You’ll need a negative PCR test to get in, but as of July 15, 2020, Puerto Rico’s doors are open for business (and pleasure, of course.) If your long-distance lover or spouse is in Puerto Rico, you can finally visit them after getting your test done.

Jamaica

As of June 15, 2020, Jamaica opened its borders to U.S. travelers. Testing may be done on arrival and you’ll need to fill out a Travel Authorization Card before embarking on your journey. Several airlines including Jet Blue, Delta, and American Airlines have begun servicing this route from specific cities in the U.S.

Dominican Republic

July 1, 2020 was the date that the DR was opened to American tourists. Until now, the local authorities have not implemented a ‘testing on arrival’ rule, but if you’re headed over to see your LDR spouse or lover, make sure to check with an authentic and official source before making your travel plans.

Ecuador

A mandatory quarantine period of 14 days will apply to all travelers from the United States. That’s even if you have a negative PCR test that’s recent. Moreover, you’ll have to pay for a hotel room for the duration of the quarantine, and your bookings must be made ahead of your departure from the U.S.

Bermuda, Barbados, The Bahamas, Aruba, Belize, and Antigua and Barbuda

All these countries are now open to receiving U.S. travelers. Some of them opened during the second week of July 2020 but Antigua and Barbuda opened their borders to U.S. tourists as early as June 4, 2020. Belize will open its airport to U.S. flights on August 15, 2020. Depending on the country, you may have to do one of the following:

  1. Pay $100 for being tested on arrival (Antigua and Barbuda)
  2. Submit a declaration form and a negative PCR test no more than 3 days (72 hours) prior to boarding the flight (Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda (test on arrival))
  3. Online declaration form to be filled out before you fly, along with a negative PCR test done within 10 days of travel
  4. Download a health app that can perform contact tracing (Belize, still inactive)

What About Travel from the U.S. into Europe?

Unfortunately, European Union countries are still closed to anyone traveling from the U.S. The restrictions, which came into place on July 1, 2020, were reviewed on July 14, 2020, per a Bloomberg report, and have been extended for a further two weeks. That means no traveling to EU nations from the U.S. until the end of July 2020, possibly even after that. The EU currently allows travelers from 13 countries to enter borders of the 27-country bloc. These are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, and China. Serbia and Montenegro have been removed from the original list of 15 countries from which travel into the EU were previously allowed.

The restrictions will be reviewed in another two weeks, at the end of July 2020.

If your long-distance spouse or lover is NOT in the EU or lives in Croatia, you may still be able to visit them.

List of European Countries Permitting Travel from the U.S.

Albania (Candidate for EU Member Status)

Albania opened up to U.S. travelers as of June 15, 2020. No formal procedure on arrival has been announced, other than that “there will be additional medical personnel at all points of entry, as well as screenings and potential quarantine requirements.”

Croatia (EU Member Nation)

Croatia has ignored the EU directive and opened its border to U.S. travelers on July 10, 2020. If you’re traveling from the U.S. to Croatia to visit someone you’re in a long-distance relationship with, you will need to produce a negative PCR test no older than 48 hours prior to arriving at the Croatian border.

Kosovo (Candidate for EU Member Status)

Kosovo is open to visitors from the United States, but the embassy has issued this statement:

“The Pristina International Airport is reportedly open to all travelers; however, some US citizens continue to be denied boarding in the US because they cannot prove they are residents or citizens of Kosovo.

“Despite being open to tourists, the Embassy strongly suggests US visitors cancel or postpone any travel plans to Kosovo this summer.”

So, you might have trouble at the boarding end but if you make it on board, you shouldn’t have problems when disembarking at Pristina airport.

North Macedonia (Candidate for EU Member Status)

The only thing you should be ready for is thermal screening when you land. Other than that, you shouldn’t have any problems at either Skopje or Ohrid.

Serbia (Candidate for EU Member Status)

You can travel to Serbia, but be warned that the number of COVID-19 cases has once again started to spike after a brief respite. There are also reports of widespread protests in the capital city of Belgrade against newly announced lockdown measures by President Aleksandar Vucic. Here’s a photo from last week outside the Serbian parliament building.

protest against COVID-19 lockdown announcement in Belgrade, Serbia, outside the parliament building

Turkey (Candidate for EU Member Status)

Turkey has been open to all international travelers from June 12, 2020; however, visitors from the U.S. are required by the embassy to have return tickets to the States. You may need to fill out a form and be subjected to a check for COVID-19 symptoms, though.

Ukraine

Ukraine currently lists the U.S. as a “red zone”, meaning there are 40 or more active cases per 100,000 people in the country. However, if you’re willing to download an app called Dii Vdoma and choose to either self-quarantine, request an isolation unit, or agree to be PCR-tested within 24 hours of entering the country, you can travel from the U.S. to Ukraine to see your loved one.

United Kingdom (Post-Brexit)

For certain purposes, the UK still comes under the EU until the end of 2020, which is the Brexit transition period. However, the island nation has not closed its borders to U.S. travelers. Tourists and visitors from American cities must necessarily agree to be quarantined for 14 days. So you can definitely go across the pond for the sake of an LDR if you’re willing to be isolated for two weeks on arrival.

For news on traveling from the United States to Asian and African countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, please bookmark this blog. More to come…

Note: If you cannot travel from the U.S. to where your long-distance relationship partner resides, why not consider sending them a unique gift to help you communicate with each other?

‘Travel to Sweden’ Restrictions Eased for Long-distance Relationship Couples

International travel restrictions during the novel coronavirus pandemic have made it hard for millions of long-distance relationship couples (LDR couples) around the world. In many cases, the long-distance part has been forced because of closed borders in the wake of positive cases of COVID-19. However, the restrictions on travel to Sweden for long-distance couples traveling from neighboring Nordic countries such as Norway, Finland, and Denmark have been eased to a great extent. If you’re looking to travel to Sweden to meet your LDR partner or spouse, here’s the latest information on who can travel and how to go about it.

Finland and Sweden

As of June 2020 (around the middle of the month), border restrictions have been loosened for people visiting their long-distance relationship partner or spouse. You aren’t required to be married or even living together but you’ll need to self-isolate for a period of 14 days once you get to your destination. You will most probably be asked to give your LDR partner’s address and name for verification purposes but the ban on leisure travel has been lifted for people in a serious relationship.

Sweden and Norway

Norway had closed its borders to travelers from most regions of Sweden except a few like Blekinge, Kronoberg, and Skåne, and the Gotland region. On July 13, 2020, those restrictions have been lifted to a great degree. From mid-July, a 90-day travel period is being granted; however, you will have to self-isolate when you get there, you should have met your partner at least once before, and you should have been in the LDR for a period of at least nine months prior to applying for a permit to travel. You’ll need to fill out a form in Norwegian to provide these details, but it’s more than likely to pass through once verification has been conducted.

Sweden and Denmark

The rules in Denmark are a little different. Although the restrictions on travel from other Nordic countries are still in place, people who have tested negative for the novel coronavirus are allowed to enter even if they’re from a region with a relatively high infection rate. The good news is that no such qualification is required if you’re traveling to meet a partner of at least three months. The catch is that you should have spent time together prior to applying, even if only for a short while. The partner residing in Denmark will need to fill out a form before making travel plans.

Fortunately, there are almost no restrictions for traveling to Sweden from any of these countries. The only travel restrictions in place are in other Nordic countries, specifically for those traveling from these countries into Sweden. Four regions are currently tagged as being “safe” to travel to, and these are the three aforementioned regions (see Sweden to Norway) and Västerbotten.

Please keep in mind that travel restrictions for International passengers keep changing at a rapid pace, so always check with the local authorities or the embassy of the country you intend to travel to for the most current information.

If you plan to travel to Sweden from – or from Sweden to – any one of the countries we’ve listed here, be sure to take all precautions that you can. Travel light, carry your own food (home-prepared, preferably) and water, keep your social distance at all times, and wash and/or sanitize your hands whenever you can. Keep yourself safe and you can soon be with your long-distance lover.

Good luck, and please visit us again for the latest news on all LDR-related topics in the days to come.

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