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European Commission recommends requiring a PCR test for all traveling to/in the EU

This Wednesday the European Commission has signaled its support for the possibility of imposing PCR tests on all people who move from one EU country to another, even if they are vaccinated, this would include non-EU visitors traveling from outside the EU. The measure has already been adopted by members-states such as Portugal, France, and Ireland. With France being the latest to impose a negative test carried out at most 48 hours before to all travelers, who are vaccinated or not.

"A week ago we did not know anything about omicron," said Von der Leyen. The alert came on Thursday from South Africa. "And on Friday at midnight, the 27 EU countries were already coordinated," the President of the Commission celebrated.

The coordination resulted in the cancellation of all flights from South Africa and six other African countries. But internally, the response was mixed. Portugal was the first country to tighten the conditions for travelers from other EU countries. And since December 1, Portugal requires the presentation of a negative test from passengers arriving by plane, even if they have a COVID certificate that proves that they have received the complete vaccine.

The guidelines approved this Wednesday by the Commission state that “based on the latest scientific evidence available and in line with the precautionary principle, to respond to the current risk of the omicron variant, the requirement of a PCR test prior to arrival can be considered a suitable instrument ”. The document specifies that the PCR requirement is appropriate "in particular for travel to the EU, as well as for travel within the EU."

(Sorry from some grammar mistakes, I translated from Spanish)

Here's where I saw this: https://elpais.com/sociedad/2021-12-01/bruselas-respalda-la-imposicion-de-pruebas-pcr-a-las-personas-vacunadas-que-viajen-dentro-de-la-ue-para-frenar-la-omicron.html

Posted by
7588 posts

For the record, France’s new requirement for a negative test from travelers from other parts of the EU is only for unvaccinated persons.

Posted by
1117 posts

Goodness, they are short on PCR tests in some regions already. Shouldn't they save those for the people who really need to be tested?

is only for unvaccinated persons

Things seem to be generally moving toward "2G+" for many situations here, which means 2G (vaccinated or recovered) PLUS tested. I wouldn't be surprised if this were to be a general tendency. But I haven't polished my crystal ball recently.

Posted by
2591 posts

Everything is moving so fast, kinda reminds me of March 2020 😞

Posted by
515 posts

So if traveling to France we need a PCR test within 48 hours of departure. Which PCR tests will be accepted….I’m hoping an Antigen test…..since it is impossible where I live to get the PCR tests turned around in 3 days

Posted by
42 posts

How would you apply these new rules if you are a vaccinated US resident that traveled to Germany where you stayed for a week, then traveled from Germany to France via rail? We would be arriving France from another EU country in Germany but would this be considered an non-EU arrival or EU arrival?

Posted by
343 posts

Well according to the linked article - if you are non European arriving from another European country - the European rules would apply Its about where you come from not your passport

Arrivals from within the EU or Schengen zone will only need a test if they are not vaccinated, but the test must have been taken within the previous 24 hours.

Posted by
1117 posts

Which PCR tests will be accepted….I’m hoping an Antigen test…..

There are Antigen tests, and there are PCR tests. They are two different things. If they explicitly require a PCR test, an Antigen test will not be accepted.

since it is impossible where I live to get the PCR tests turned around
in 3 days

Wow... THREE days? So if someone is suspected of having caught Covid, they have to wait three days to find out?

Posted by
8390 posts

Anna, Although the US has excellent technology, innovation, and creative ideas in medicine, the free market approach isn't very efficient in a public health crisis. It is 3 days some places but not everywher. Travel testing can be in the hundreds of dollars.

The classroom testing three times a week in Austria, the QR code health passes, free home tests for self monitoring in many countries, a test or vaxx center in every town, are a long way from reality in the US. It's really far behind western Europe in a great deal of the US.

Posted by
515 posts

Bets….you are so right… we are so very behind. None of our vendors here will guarantee results within 36-24 hours……plus no vendor here offers tests after 5 pm or before 9 am. This does not bode well for my Christmas trip.

Anna….that is correct.

Posted by
1117 posts

Although the US has excellent technology, innovation, and creative
ideas in medicine

That's exactly the point. I guess we are so used to thinking of the United States as the world leader in so many things that this kind of thing does surprise us.

It is 3 days some places but not everywher. Travel testing can be in
the hundreds of dollars.

Wow. And I thought the € 90 they charge here instead of € 60 if you want PCR test results within an hour instead of within 24 hours was expensive.

This does not bode well for my Christmas trip.

This does not bode well for communities. The idea of lots of people running around who should really be in quarantine but haven't got any test results, or tests even, is scary. It's bad enough as it is here, with the current surge.

Posted by
515 posts

Does anyone here know what Antigen tests detect protein N?

Posted by
515 posts

I agree Anna regarding not bode-ing well for communities…..however there are also a lot of people running around without vaccines…let alone Covid tests… I am triple vaxxed and not concerned about taking a test….it’s finding one where I live….

Posted by
2591 posts

however there are also a lot of people running around without vaccines

Not for long in Germany, they just announced a lockdown of the unvaccinated and mandatory vaccination potentially starting in February.

Posted by
6620 posts

@Chris, I believe the rapid antigen tests being used are all based on detecting the n-protein. Here is info that says so on the Abbott BINAX test kit, the one I've been using: FDA info on BINAX

A requirement for a PCR test before travel would be difficult for anyone here in the US to meet, or at least a huge gamble. A three day or fewer window before travel, doesn't leave much margin. The PCR tests have to be processed in a laboratory by a highly trained and certified technician, not in the back of every drugstore. So they have to be transported in batches to a central location and then dealt with in batches, not instantly.

My grandson needed a PCR test to be allowed back in school. The PCR test at a major pharmacy chain, took 10 days to get back results, even though we live in a major metropolitan area.

Posted by
203 posts

I must admit, it is from my German perspective, as it seems for Anna too, shocking to hear about the testing issues that people have in the US. Honestly completely astonishing.

Posted by
21041 posts

With respect to the availability of quick self-tests in the US, that situation varies by area. I can pick up free self-test kits at my local library here in Washington DC. I plan to do that so I can test before heading south to visit my family over Christmas.

I've had no need to research tests for travel, but I hope most metropolitan areas have a lab where you can go for testing and be sure of a faster turn-around.

Posted by
7588 posts

A requirement for a PCR test before travel would be difficult for anyone here in the US to meet, or at least a huge gamble.

I had no problem meeting it when I was returning back to France from a trip home to Oklahoma in May. At that point, American tourists couldn't yet come to France, but I could return as i am a legal resident. And equally at that point, France required a PCR test for anyone entering from the States within 72 hours prior to departure for France.

I took a PCR test at a CVS in Tulsa, and had the results in 24 hours. It wasn't a problem. (It took a little researching to make sure I could find what needed and could get it in time, but it wasn't onerous or anything ).

I have to believe if I could get that taken care of in Oklahoma a few months ago, it has to be possible just about anywhere.

Posted by
8390 posts

The difference is apparent even in the language used by the airlines. Air France says "Regulations require you to wear your mask at all times." When we got to our US connecting flight on Delta, it was, "Your crew is wearing their masks at all times, and we ask you to please help everyone by wearing your mask."

Posted by
1117 posts

@Bets, that is another surprising observation. I would have expected the opposite. In American National Parks for instance, rangers tend to be quite clear about enforcing laws. In German National Parks, you never even get to see a ranger, and if people let their dogs run during breeding season, well, who cares.

A three day or fewer window before travel, doesn't leave much margin. [...] The PCR test at a major pharmacy chain, took 10 days to get back results

I am surprised they even grant you that three day window. Anything above that doesn't make much sense, really, if you want to protect other passengers on a plane; way too much time between the test and the flight. What can a ten day old test result do for you? It will tell you if you were contagious ten days ago, but not if you are contagious now. In other words: It's practically worthless.

Posted by
99 posts

Thank you Carlos for continuing to share these updates- they are invaluable to those of us traveling! Even though it's not yet a requirement for Spain, I went ahead and preemptively booked PCR Rapid tests at my local CVS. I usually get results in 30 minutes from them.

I am still very much looking forward to coming to Spain for the holidays and I appreciate your updates. ;o)

Posted by
3021 posts

A requirement for a PCR test before travel would be difficult for
anyone here in the US to meet, or at least a huge gamble.

Physician offices in my hospital system routinely have less than 12 hour turn times for PCR tests. I have had tests come back in as little as 6 hours.

Air France says "Regulations require you to wear your mask at all
times." When we got to our US connecting flight on Delta, it was,
"Your crew is wearing their masks at all times, and we ask you to
please help everyone by wearing your mask."

I've heard the "Your crew is wearing" message from crew members on numerous Delta flights, but on the 100 or so flights I've taken since June 2020, I have never heard that statement without said crew member or another crew member including a message about federal regulations requiring a mask to be worn at all times unless eating/drinking (usually with an instruction to lower/raise mask with each drink and each bite).