Restriction of movement was one of the biggest problems that people felt throughout Canada once the coronavirus took hold in March of 2020. The thought of a summer without a few afternoons spent relaxing on a Mediterranean beach or a winter season without seeing the bright lights of Christmas markets was unbearable to those who love to travel to and within Europe.
Fortunately, the world’s collective Herculean efforts to return to a semblance of normality have allowed health and tourism officials around the globe to begin easing restrictions for foreign travelers crossing their borders and Canadians are taking notice.
One of the most important questions for Canadians who love to travel was how Europe, and more specifically the countries that make up the Schengen Area, would approach the re-opening of borders: would it be as a group or would individual nations make their own rules?
In 2022, European Union travel officials will officially introduce the European Travel Information Authorization System (ETIAS) for Canadian passport holders. The ETIAS is not a visa, but a visa-waiver system, allowing for citizens from Canada to enter into Europe with pre-authorization granted through an online portal system.
Before the pandemic took hold, Canadians were one of a handful of countries whose citizens were not required to have prior authorization for travel in Europe. Now that the coronavirus appears to be lessening its stranglehold, the question that remains for Canadians who are eager to grab their pack and hit the airport is if they can travel to Europe this summer?
Which European Nations Are Accepting Canadian Vacationers?
In an official meeting at the end of June, Schengen Area Member States voted to move Canada to the list of countries whose residents are cleared to enter Europe. The decision came after a long spell where Canadian passport holders were barred from entering the Schengen Area because of troublesome COVID-19 transmission rates within their home country.
So Can Canadians Fly to Any European Nation Now?
The short answer is: No, Canadians are not necessarily able to book a flight to any country in Europe. There are several reasons why.
Although the recommendation was made to move Canada to the “approved list,” each Schengen Area Member States (which consists of 26 countries) is free to continue denying Canadians the right to cross their external borders.
Usually, countries will not stop Canadians from entering should they do so through a different Schengen Area Member State as that is the entire purpose of the Schengen Area. However, during the pandemic, health officials and politicians of each country are deciding who they wish to allow entry to.
What Else Can Individual European Countries Decide?
One of the most important travel tips for international journeys during a pandemic is to be up to date on the latest information. That means that people must check and then double-check the destination country’s guidelines and restrictions before booking a trip and flying.
Rules are subject to change as the pandemic continues to evolve and travelers may be denied entry onto an airplane or into a country because they failed to follow the posted regulations.
While the situation is fluid, some European countries will require that all Canadian passport holders who wish to enter be at least two weeks removed from their second vaccination.
Other countries will require a negative PCR test and still, some countries will require a quarantine on arrival. It is essential to research before traveling as there is no blanket answer to these questions.
But Should Canadian Citizens Travel?
The answer to this question is always going to be on a personal, case-by-case basis. To some people, the pandemic was a great opportunity to reflect on what it was about traveling, in particular, that was most important to them.
Many vacationers have re-examined the way they travel and are focusing only on sustainable, eco-friendly travel, which may not include a cross-Atlantic flight from Canada to Europe.
Other people who may be more at risk of ill effects of the coronavirus may opt to wait until transmission rates are further reduced worldwide before getting back onto an airplane.
Of course, there will always be people who are eager to get back out into the world and as long as those people follow and respect the guidelines of the places they are visiting, then it should be safe for them to once again visit their favourite cathedrals and cafés of Barcelona and Berlin.
The most important aspect of whether or not a Canadian passport holder should make the voyage to Europe is that each potential traveler takes responsibility for themselves and makes the decision that they are most comfortable with.
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