I’ve done some traveling around Europe during the past several weeks. Earlier this summer I took a road trip to Paris, and more recently I’ve flown to Mykonos and Venice.
I’ve gotten more questions about the travel process during the COVID-19 pandemic then I have the actual destinations. While I have posted about it under Instagram highlights, I decided to also write a blog post to more fully address the most asked questions.
FAQs on COVID-19/Coronavirus Travel
Q: Are borders open?
That depends on where you’re coming from. The majority of EU countries are closed to US citizens, however, there are a couple of exceptions and loopholes. If an EU country is open to citizens of another EU country, this also includes US citizens with a valid residency permit of an EU country. As an American with EU residency, I’ve been able to take advantage of this and travel within the EU, and going to Greece and Italy was hassle-free.
Q: Are you required to quarantine?
I was not required to quarantine traveling from The Netherlands to Greece or Italy. However, as the number of COVID-19 outbreaks fluctuates, countries are adjusting their mandatory quarantine list weekly. Because things are changing so quickly, I waited until the last possible minute to make my travel arrangements, and I also moved the dates for Italy up by a couple of weeks. Originally wanted to go the last week in August, but instead went earlier in the month to ensure I could go.
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Q: Were you nervous about being in an airport and flying?
No, I wasn’t nervous about being in an airport or flying. There are a limited number of flights in and out of most airports, thus they are significantly less crowded then pre-COVID. Masks were required in the airports, hand sanitizer dispensers were positioned every few feet, and there were vending machines with masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes throughout the airport. The shops and eateries that were opened had social distancing requirements in place, including touchless payment.
I didn’t fly more than 3 hours, and the seat configuration of the planes was 3-4-3 and 2-2, which worked perfectly for Miss P, Miss V, and me to Mykonos and for Miss P and me to Venice, respectively.
Before boarding the flight to Italy, our temperature was taken and we had to fill out a health form. Prior to traveling to Greece, all passengers were required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form after which we received a QR to present upon arrival.
As we boarded, we were given a handout with safety procedures on one side & a menu on the other and an antibacterial wipe. I also had my own wipes, as was my habit long before Coronavirus. Masks were required during the flight unless we were eating or drinking. Speaking of eating and drinking, there was service.
Q: What happens with customs when you arrive?
As I mentioned previously regarding Greece, all passengers were required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form and given a QR code that we had to show to authorities upon arrival, and are also subject to random COVID testing. Amazingly, none of us were selected for testing. For Italy, there were no additional procedures, and we just exited the airport as we normally would.
Q: What are the COVID-19 Procedures where you went? Were you required to social distance and wear masks in public?
I visited Paris at the beginning of summer, just as travel restrictions were being lifted. The restaurants and cafes, though not packed, were definitely back in business. Guests are required to use the provided hand sanitizer before sitting down. The wait staff in every establishment I went to had at least had a mask on, and many wore a face shield, but the tables in most places weren’t 1.5 meters apart.
Shops, like restaurants, required people to use the provided hand sanitizer before entering and to wear a mask. An employee behind a plexiglass shield rings up your purchase and cashless payment is encouraged.
Regarding the hotel, it was the first week of it being reopened and I was the first guest in the room since the lockdown. The desk clerks didn’t wear masks, nor was there plexiglass between them and guests. The hotel was the only place I went in Paris that didn’t have COVID precautionary measures in place.
In Mykonos, Athens, and Venice, wait staff at restaurants didn’t wear masks, nor were tables 1.5 meters apart, but hand sanitizer was provided for guests at the door. All shops required people to use the provided hand sanitizer before entering and to wear a mask. The hotels that I stayed in both Greece and Venice had hand sanitizer throughout, and it was suggested that rooms be cleaned every other day room cleaning (though I did it less frequently than that and only requested fresh towels). In all of the hotels, I’d estimate about 50 – 60% of the staff wore masks.
Q: Did COVID-19 affect your time at your destination? Were most things/places open?
I was in Paris just as the city was reopening, so there were a number of things that hadn’t reopened, though everything I wanted to do/places I wanted to go was open. In Greece and Venice, everything was open. Also, everywhere I went was relatively empty. Mykonos had about 25% of the tourists it normally has this time of year. I was in Venice at the same time 6 years ago, and the difference in the number of people is astounding.
I know the situation is horrible for the tourism industry, and not to rub your nose in it, but to be in these places when there were so few tourists was absolutely blissful.
Have you traveled during the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic? If so, what was your experience like? Please share in the comments.
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Note: Fluctuations in infection rates throughout the EU has resulted in countries adjusting their restrictions, and lists of high infection countries are reissued weekly. Please check the restrictions of any country you are thinking of visiting before making arrangements.