The Argentine government’s quarrel with the IATA due to the limitations of entering the country looks with surprise from Europe. European governments never limited the number of people who could enter their countries, not even during the worst moments of the pandemic. While it is true that for many months some even banned departures – such as Belgium, the seat of the institutions of the European Union – air traffic was very limited during the first waves and the control of those entering it left much to be desired.
After the last wave, the one that died down at the end of February – although some European countries are seeing contagions soar again- the vaccination process allowed to begin to open the hand with the trips. And the European Commission managed to get the 27 governments of the bloc to start making coordinated decisions and to a certain extent similar, although in general those that depend the most on tourism – Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus … – continue to be less strict than the rest.
The governments now take restrictive measures based on the map published every Thursday by the European Agency for Disease Control and Prevention, which takes into account epidemiological evolution not by country but by region. Thus, it divides Spain into its 17 autonomous communities or Belgium into its three regions. That map is changing every Thursday and right now and in it the regions are painted in green, orange, red or dark red, depending on the situation of infections is less or more serious.
Most governments use that map to create your own rules. And restrictions on the entry of people are not made by limiting the number of those who enter, but by, for example, requiring mandatory quarantines for those who come from orange or red areas. Belgium asks anyone who comes from a non-green zone to take a PCR test (free) on the second day of entering the country and to keep 10 days of quarantine. This mobility limitation is controlled randomly by the local police.
They don’t control everyone because there are no means for so much but there is a sufficient number so that any issue can be controlled. Violation of quarantine is punishable by a 250 euro fine. On the eighth day, a second PCR test is done (also free). If it is negative, the quarantine ends when the result is received. Whoever is going to spend less than 48 hours in Belgium does not have to go through these requirements. Neither does the resident in Belgium who traveled to another European country for a period of less than 48 hours.
The rules are different for those leaving the territory of the 27 Member States. In that case the tests and the quarantine on the return are generalized. Some governments they begin to leave out those restrictions to those who have already received the complete vaccination schedule.
Countries with the greatest need for tourists, such as those in the south, they are less strict, to the point that Spain and Portugal were receiving British tourists for weeks without even asking them for a negative PCR test prior to their arrival in the country. In their destinations, such as the Portuguese Algarve or the Andalusian coast, they mingled with German tourists. Angela Merkel’s government abrongated the Spanish and Portuguese governments, which days later began to demand that negative test from the British as well.
On July 1, the already known as ‘covid certificate’ came into operation. It is a document, on paper or digital, that is received by those who are already fully vaccinated and that, in principle, allows them to move without restrictions through the 27 countries of the European Union. In principle because each government continues to have the competence to impose restrictive measures, such as quarantines, if it understands that the epidemiological situation recommends it. This is the case of Belgium, which continues to require quarantines from its residents who travel to red areas, such as the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Or Germany, which demands it from everyone who steps on Portugal.