Travel between France and the U.S. has been restricted for months, with only those Americans who have student visas, who are permanent residents or those traveling for “imperative family reasons” allowed into France. But The Local reported that some Americans are getting into France via a loophole and traveling through the U.K.
While the EU has kept most of its borders closed, some U.S. travelers have been able to enter the EU by passing through less strict borders via a third country, such as the U.K. and then traveling to France, for instance, which is not currently quarantining U.K. arrivals (the quarantine is voluntary).
The situation is complicated by the fact that EU countries operate different rules at border control; some look at the passport, applying the rule for the country of nationality, and others look at where the traveler has been in the past 14 days.
The EU-wide decision to close borders to the U.S. relates to all the countries signed up to the Schengen agreement, which allows free-flow of people inside the Schengen area. The U.K. however, doesn’t belong to the Schengen agreement but has more open borders with EU countries because of historical European ties.
The U.K. also hasn’t restricted access to American visitors–the only rule is that they must go into quarantine for 2 weeks. But that’s if they stay. Incoming visitors don’t have to self-isolate if they are passing through. They just need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form.
U.S. visitors to France must be in possession of a negative Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours but this is not required for visitors from the U.K. to France. It therefore requires a customs official at passport control to connect the dots, which isn’t always possible.
The Local reported that U.S. citizens had used this loophole method to reunite with loved ones in France, when they hadn’t been able to secure a “laissez passer” agreement allowing unmarried couples the right to reunite.
Politico reported in August how many Americans were using a combination of loopholes to travel around the EU and the U.K. from the U.S.
For example, when travel was restricted by the U.K. from Spain during July and early August, people were able to circumvent quarantine rules by flying to Paris and taking the Eurostar to London–visitors from France didn’t need to go into quarantine until rules were later changed on Saturday 15 August (now France is on the “red” list and visitors must quarantine).
Politico reported that wealthy U.S. travelers have also been able to circumvent rules by asking contacts in the EU to provide false letters saying the trips were for work purposes–another way to enter countries.
Politico stated that “travelers from restricted countries like the U.S. are entering Europe’s 26-country open-border Schengen area thanks to a combination of loopholes, weak quarantine-enforcement rules and diverging national policies.”
However, it is still true that the majority of people are abiding by the rules and just because it may be technically possible to enter via one of these loopholes, you should not rely on it working (notwithstanding the ethical issues of whether these loopholes should be used). There are several reports of these trips backfiring and travelers not being allowed in.
Dutch and Danish countries are going on the country of residence and not allowing any U.S. visitors regardless of where they have been before and Greek authorities are demanding proof of residency for U.S. entries.
The only clear exception is Croatia, which is currently admitting U.S. visitors–Jay Z and Beyonce visited at the beginning of September and 200,000 U.S. citizens visited between July and August.