(CNN) – It was too good to last.
While the summer saw much of Europe opening up to American visitors, offering them the chance to fulfill their lockdown dreams of eating ice cream in Italy or visiting Paris art museums, the end of the season has brought new restrictions and the gates of the continent are starting to close.
The news prompted various European countries to update travel restrictions for Americans, while some have banned entry for American travelers altogether.
Unsurprisingly, the changes have sparked widespread confusion, especially for those planning to travel to Europe in the coming months.
Here’s a look at the stricter rules and what they mean for American travelers.
Can Americans still travel to Europe?
Other countries may soon restrict access to Americans.
Clara Margais / Picture Alliance / Getty Images
Yes they can. Only a small number of countries have so far restricted all non-essential arrivals from the United States. Since the EU opinion, Bulgaria, Norway and Sweden are the only ones to restrict all access.
However, while at least one destination – Greece – has ruled out imposing new travel restrictions in the near future, it’s safe to say that Americans, especially those who aren’t vaccinated, are likely to face more restrictions in the days and weeks to come.
What are the new European rules?
However, his advice is non-binding. There is no pressure for countries to adopt this measure and they are free to ignore it if they wish.
This means that there is no general rule covering the continent. Instead, each destination country is free to adopt or ignore the advice according to its own preferences.
Given the value of American visitors to European tourism economies, it is likely that any decision to restrict their arrival will be taken with considerable reluctance.
What do EU rules mean for Americans traveling to Europe?
Much more paperwork, uncertainty and research, that’s for sure.
Ultimately, this means that traveling to European countries is likely to become more difficult for Americans in the coming weeks, although not necessarily impossible.
As the rules change, it is up to individual travelers to verify their eligibility to travel. While airlines can also perform pre-departure checks, they won’t need them to sell tickets.
Some countries may keep their doors open, but adjust requirements such as pre-departure Covid testing, quarantine provisions, or proof of vaccination.
Which countries can Americans visit in Europe?
Croatia is still open to Americans.
DENIS LOVROVIC / AFP via Getty Image
Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain are currently all open to fully immunized Americans.
The restrictions in place vary from country to country. Many destinations require travelers to submit a negative Covid test upon arrival, while some have both testing and quarantine measures in place for vaccinated visitors.
France currently has no travel restrictions for fully vaccinated Americans, but a negative Covid test performed no more than 72 hours before arrival is required before they can enter Italy. A mandatory 10-day quarantine is set for fully vaccinated US travelers visiting the Netherlands, while those entering Germany must provide a negative Covid test result before being allowed entry.
Fully vaccinated Americans are allowed to travel to the UK, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
However, different testing and / or quarantine measures have been implemented in each country.
Is travel to Europe safe?
No travel during the pandemic is entirely without risk from Covid, even for vaccinated travelers, and the best way to stay safe is to stay at home and minimize exposure to the virus.
That said, if safety protocols such as mask wearing, social distancing and hand sanitization are followed, there is no reason travelers cannot travel safely in Europe. Statistically, most Western European countries have lower Covid rates than the United States.
There are still some Covid hotspots – Montenegro has seen a significant increase in the number of cases recently – so it is worth consulting the travel advice of the US Embassy at destination. Again, this is a matter of research.
Are other countries going to close their borders?
It is not entirely clear. As several European countries have introduced new restrictions for American travelers based on advice from the EU, it is possible that others will follow suit in the coming weeks.
The restrictions are due to the spread of the Delta variant of Covid in the United States, with cases peaking for many months in July and August. While numbers remain high in September and colder months are expected to fuel the spread of the disease, further restrictions appear likely.
What should I do if I have booked a trip to Europe?
If you’ve booked travel to a country that remains open to Americans, you shouldn’t experience any issues as long as you follow all of the recommended advice.
But if the rules have changed since you booked, many hotels and airlines recognize issues with Covid and restrictions and may offer refunds if you booked directly. It is worth asking.
As with all travel during the pandemic, there is a risk, however, that you will find yourself out of pocket.
Luis Araujo, president of the European Travel Commission, a non-profit organization that promotes tourism on the continent, points out that American travelers are still a high priority for Europe despite the rule changes.
“American travelers are of critical importance to Europe, and most European destinations are still open to American visitors and eager to welcome them back to our shores,” Araujo told CNN Travel in a statement.
“That said, we must accept that we are still living with the reality of this ongoing pandemic and that we will experience setbacks on the road to recovery.
“Travelers from the United States should always be aware of sanitary measures and obey the rules at their destination.”
Should I book a future trip to Europe?
As mentioned above, with all travel plans in the current pandemic, there are risks that they will need to be changed or canceled. If you are looking for an escape that is completely free from bureaucratic hassle, uncertainty and stress, then the answer may be a no direct.
But Araujo insists that US citizens should “continue to plan their trips to Europe”, while keeping “an eye on all the latest travel rules and cancellation policies”.
“With current vaccination rates and safety protocols in place, safe international travel is absolutely possible, as this summer season proves.”
Which European countries have banned unvaccinated American travelers?
The Netherlands is now demanding that vaccinated Americans be quarantined.
Ramon Van Flymen / ANP / AFP / Getty Images
Denmark, Finland, France, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands and Spain have all banned non-essential unvaccinated US travelers. Meanwhile, all non-essential US travelers are prohibited from traveling to Bulgaria, Norway and Sweden, regardless of their vaccination status.
What vaccines are accepted in Europe?
To be considered a fully vaccinated visitor, travelers must have received a full dose of the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen – two weeks before their trip.
Can I travel to Europe with unvaccinated children?
The new rules will not impact children too young to be vaccinated. Children under 12 can travel with vaccinated adults to European countries where American travelers are permitted to enter. But while children under 12 are exempt from all restrictions in some countries, others require a negative Covid test.
Those aged 12-18 are subject to the same rules and restrictions as adult travelers. Again, it is worth rechecking for each destination in case any variations from these guidelines are introduced.