Europeans Question Return of American Tourists

Spain, though limiting its own citizens’ movements, has for weeks been open to visitors with negative PCR tests from the rest of Europe, and tourists have been flocking to places like Madrid, which has more relaxed restrictions than their home cities. Most of its cultural attractions are open with Covid protocols, and the city’s curfew is 11 p.m., compared to much earlier curfews in other parts of the country and Europe.

Residents there were sanguine about the idea of American visitors. “My neighborhood is already full of unvaccinated French people working remotely, so I think it’s great,” said Naroa Quiros, an interior designer specializing in restaurants, about the decision to open the country up to vaccinated Americans. “Madrid needs it and certainly businesses need it.”

In Turkey, where tourism is the lifeblood of the economy, the European Union’s announcement came just as the country was about to enter a full nationwide lockdown to curb a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths, which have reached record levels. The Turkish Health Ministry recorded 37,312 new Covid-19 infections and 353 deaths over a 24-hour period on Monday.

Under the new measures, Turkish residents will be required to mostly stay at home except for grocery shopping trips and urgent medical treatment. All restaurants, cafes, bars and nonessential shops will be closed. As they have been through much of the pandemic, tourists will be exempted from the restrictions.

“At a time when Europe is entering a phase of reopening, we need to rapidly cut our case numbers to below 5,000 not to be left behind,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday. “Otherwise we will inevitably face heavy costs in every area, from tourism to trade and education.”

There were, of course, practical questions about what kind of “vaccine passports” might be developed and concerns about whether amid a slow vaccine rollout in France, for instance, even vaccinated Americans could impact the evolution of the outbreak.

Michele Gargiulo, 40, who co-owns and runs LibrOsteria, a bookshop cafe in Milan that was a tourist attraction before the pandemic, said that though he is concerned about safety, he believes that “it could be tourists just like it could be anything else.”