Will American travelers be banned from Europe?

In today’s newsletter, Northeast flooding; Italy’s COVID-hit violin center plays again … and the glowworms arise in Alabama.

This article is an adaptation of our weekly Travel newsletter that was originally sent out on September 3, 2021. Want this in your inbox? Sign up here.

By George Stone, TRAVEL Executive Editor

These are confusing times for travelers—especially for U.S. passport holders hoping to head to Europe. The European Council (the E.U.’s governing body) recently advised its 27 member states to block nonessential travel from the U.S. What does that mean?

It’s unclear. The announcement is just a recommendation; each E.U. member state can decide whether (or not) to follow the guidance. But at least one country has taken action so far: On Friday, the Netherlands announced that as of September 4, 2021, unvaccinated Americans will be banned altogether and vaccinated Americans will have to quarantine upon arrival; the quarantine will be for 10 days, but can be cut in half (to five days) with testing, as reported by One Mile at a Time.

What is clear is that, with the Delta variant posing a serious threat and with some areas in the U.S. experiencing their highest hospitalization numbers for COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began, logistics for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers are about to get much more complicated.

“No place anywhere on Earth is safe for the unvaccinated and for people exposed to the unvaccinated,” says Tom Kenyon, the chief health officer at Project HOPE, a global health and humanitarian relief organization, and the former director of Global Health at the CDC. Traveling now, he adds, “is like playing Russian roulette—tragically.”

So what can we expect? Enforced vaccine requirements, according to Jackie Snow, who reported our article. “In the U.S., some cities—New York, Washington, and Chicago, among them—are enforcing requirements to show valid vaccination cards in order to sit down at a restaurant, go to a play, or attend a concert,” she writes. (Pictured at top, a masked server and customers at a Venice, Italy, café; below, a woman in Bordeaux shows her vaccination pass, now required to enter French restaurants or museums.)

In Europe, where some 70 percent of adults have been fully vaccinated, many countries have surpassed vaccination rates in the U.S. Does that mean Europeans will soon be able to travel to America? Not yet; they continue to be barred from the U.S., as the Biden administration works to develop a “consistent and safe international travel policy.”

As for American travelers currently frolicking in France and noodling around Italy: They are welcome home, but must present a negative COVID-19 test (taken within three calendar days) to board a flight back to the U.S.

Like I said: Confusing.

But a lot less threatening for those who have been vaccinated.

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INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY

First light: The North Cascades appear above a fog-shrouded Puget Sound at sunrise in summer. The Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean along the northwestern coast of Washington State, is regularly covered by low clouds on summer mornings. Seen here on the left, Mount Baker, a 10,781-foot (3,286-meter) stratovolcano, rises abruptly from sea level and dominates the skyline of the North Cascades.

Subscriber exclusive: Like mountains? How about Austria’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’?

TODAY IN A MINUTE

Swampy northeast: New York City and Newark smashed longstanding daily rainfall records as the devastating and deadly remnants of Hurricane Ida washed over the mid-Atlantic states and the Eastern Seaboard. Ida left more than 150,000 Northeastern homes without power. A tornado in Southern New Jersey leveled a stretch of houses. (Pictured above, floodwater surrounds vehicles on an expressway in Brooklyn early Thursday.)

Giant pagan deity found in Ireland: It’s eight feet tall and dates back 1,600 years. The wooden sculpture was recovered from a bog by a crew doing excavation for a road construction project, Smithsonian reports.

It’s a boat. It’s a plane.: A new plane-boat hybrid is seeking to speed up travel along sea routes. The concept aims to provide 50-minute service between Los Angeles and San Diego, and two-hour service between New York and Boston, CNN reports.

National forest closure: California has closed all national forests until September 17. Officials said they hope to prevent anyone from being trapped during an emergency, such as a wildfire. Having fewer people on national forest lands also decreases the likelihood of new forest fires starting, officials tell the Los Angeles Times.

IN A FEW WORDS

THE BIG TAKEAWAY

Italy rebounds: The coronavirus struck. The violin making went on. In the particularly hard-hit northern Italy community of Cremona, the hometown of Stradivari, COVID-19 couldn’t stop the music, writer-photographer Ronan O’Connell reports for Nat Geo. (Pictured above, Daniele Tonarelli is one of more than 150 luthiers in Cremona.)

SEE THE PHOTOS

LAST GLIMPSE

Stars of the night: Tiny glowworms called dismalites steal the show during early spring and mid-autumn at Alabama’s Dismals Canyon. Designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974, the canyon is one of a few places to see the small insects shine bright after dark with blue bioluminescence. (Read more about luminous life in National Geographic magazine.)

A DAZZLING SHOW 

This newsletter has been curated and edited by David Beard and Monica Williams, and Jen Tse selected the photographs. Have an idea or a link? We’d love to hear from you at david.beard@natgeo.com. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful holiday weekend!

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