After taking into account the high vaccination rates and concluding that strict travel rules no longer have an important role when it comes to stopping the spread of the virus, many countries of the European Union and the Schengen area have decided to raise pre-entry testing requirements.
While several countries lifted some of their restrictions earlier this month, others, such as Finland, Lithuania, France, Portugal and Lithuania, decided to assess the situation again and then make a decision.
Finland is the latest country to announce that travelers will no longer be subject to testing requirements. Finnish authorities have revealed that all vaccinated travelers are now exempt from testing rules.
The exemption from the test requirement applies to all travelers who have completed the vaccination process, regardless of their country of origin.
Thus, this means that Finland now applies more flexible entry rules not only to EU citizens but to third-country nationals as well.
On the other hand, travelers who have not been vaccinated against the virus will still be subject to entry rules.
Similar to Finland, French authorities have announced that all fully vaccinated travelers are now allowed to enter the country without having to go through pre-testing requirements.
The French Ministry of the Interior has clarified that the abolition of the test requirement applies to all travelers, including third-country nationals.
“For travelers who have been vaccinated within the meaning of European regulations, no further tests will be required upon departure. Proof of a complete vaccination schedule becomes sufficient to arrive in France, regardless of the country of origin,” reads the ministry’s statement.
Such a statement indicates that each person needs to present a valid vaccination certificate upon arrival in France in order to be allowed to enter the country without restrictions.
France currently only recognizes vaccination cards indicating that the holder has completed the initial vaccination in the past nine months.
>> France now has a validity period of 9 months for vaccination certificates
Aside from removing the testing requirements for the EU/Schengen area and many other third countries linked to the EU COVID-19 digital certificate, Greece has ended such a requirement for arrivals from the US, Canada and Australia as well.
Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority announced earlier this week that passengers from the above-mentioned third countries are now allowed entry under the concessional rules. Travelers from the US, Canada and Australia can now enter Greece without restrictions as long as they prove they have recently been vaccinated, recovered or tested.
Greece accepts certificates of vaccination provided the document proves that the last dose of vaccine was taken within the past nine months. On the other hand, redemption certificates are only valid for 180 days.
In addition to the above countries, Lithuania, Sweden and Portugal have also raised testing requirements for the EU/Schengen area as well as for some other specific third countries.
Portugal has raised testing requirements for travelers from the European Union and several other third countries that have been successfully linked to an EU digital COVID certificate, TheSchengen.com reports.
In line with the new rules, travelers from the European Union as well as from third countries whose vaccination certificates have been recognized in Portugal are now allowed to enter without restrictions provided they hold a valid document.
Portugal accepts vaccination, recovery and testing certificates. In order for the certificate of vaccination to be recognized in Portugal, the document must prove that its holder has been vaccinated in the past nine months or received a booster dose.
Refund certificates are accepted as long as the document proves that the holder has been infected with the virus in the last 180 days. For tests, Portugal accepts both PCR and rapid antigen tests.
Similarly, the Lithuanian authorities announced that since February 15, all travelers from the EU/EEA can enter under the concessional rules.
>> Lithuania cancels all remaining COVID-19 restrictions on arrivals from EU and EEA countries
In line with the announcement by the Lithuanian Ministry of Health, EU/EEA travelers as well as third-country nationals with a valid EU digital COVID certificate can enter the country without having to undergo additional entry rules, such as an -entry test.
Sweden has also relaxed its entry rules. Since last week, travelers from the EU/Schengen area can enter Sweden without having to go through pre-entry or post-arrival testing requirements.
The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: “As part of the ongoing work to gradually phase out infection control measures against COVID-19, the government has decided today to lift all restrictions on entry to Sweden from Nordic countries, EU countries and other EEA countries.” .
While some EU countries have lifted the test requirement for non-EU citizens who have been fully vaccinated, Spain has decided to take another decision. Spanish authorities announced earlier this week that third-country travelers between the ages of 12 and 17 will no longer be required to present a valid vaccination certificate.
This means that third-country travelers of this age can now travel to Spain by only submitting a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to arrival.
With the latest map update, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) showed that all European countries are still severely affected by the COVID-19 disease and, therefore, are all colored dark red.
However, EU/Schengen area countries are facilitating their entry rules despite a call by the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) to avoid non-essential travel.