No Corona Entry Restrictions For Vaccinated People Visiting Romania

People who have received their corona virus vaccine will be exempt from the usual COVID-19 entry restrictions when visiting Romania.

Romania’s current entry requirements

Although Romania is currently open towards tourists from most European countries as well as a few other nations across the world, special entry restrictions might apply.

Romania is basing its corona virus entry requirements on the average corona virus infection rates per 100,000 inhabitants. Simply put, countries can get added to Romania’s “yellow list” (zona galbena) if their cumulative incidence rate of new COVID-19 cases over a rolling 14 day period is higher than Romania. The most recent overview of yellow list countries can be found here.

If you come from a country which is not on the yellow list, you are free to enter Romania. If you however travel from a ‘yellow list country’, you have to go in home isolation for 14 days. This is enforced by the authorities with regular checks and fines for those found breaking quarantine rules.

Only after 8 days can a person who arrived from a yellow-list country take a PCR test. If this is negative, the home isolation period can be shortened to 10 days instead of the normal 14 days.

There is currently only one exemption to this rule which was introduced to ease the situation for business travellers. There is no home isolation requirement for people from yellow-list countries if their visit to Romania is shorter than 72 hours. However, in this case they are required to show a negative PCR test result no older than 48 hours.

palace of parliament bucharest romania corona restrictions
Fountains and mosaics at one of Bucharest’s central squares, with Ceaușescu’s massive Palace of the Parliament being visible in the back. ©Paliparan

Vaccine

With countries across the world now having started to vaccinate their populations against the corona virus, many are wondering how travel restrictions will look when you have finally received your jab.

As the first (?) country in Europe, the Romanian authorities have now decided that vaccinated people are exempt from the special corona entry requirements.

If you can show proof of being vaccinated upon arrival at the border, you don’t have to go in home isolation, not even when arriving from a yellow list country.

You must however have received two vaccine doses in total, with the last shot being administered at least ten days before travelling to Romania.

Although the decision has been approved by the National Committee for Emergency Situation (CNSU) which determines Romania’s corona virus entry requirements, it still needs to be formally approved by the government.

sighisoara romania corona restrictions
The Medieval hilltop town of Sighișoara. ©Paliparan

Fair, or unfair?

As far as I’m aware of, Romania’s decision is fairly unique as it is the first country in Europe to publicly announce that vaccinated people will be exempt from the special entry requirements.

I’ve heard a lot of different arguments over the last weeks whether or not such measures are fair.

There are people who are arguing that it is unfair and that it might even constitutes discrimination, as in most countries only medical workers, the elderly and people with high-risk medical indications will be able to get a vaccine in the first couple of months.

Besides a difference between age groups, there is also a geographical disparity. Although the vaccines are currently being rolled out in many countries across the world, in reality the countries which are steaming ahead with their vaccination programme are all among the most rich and powerful nations in the world.

Think about countries such as the US and Canada, the EU block and wider EEA countries, the Middle Eastern countries such as Israel and the Gulf States, as well as the powerful Asian nations such as Japan and China.

Exemption from corona virus entry restrictions is of course great news if you hail from one of these countries, but it does for example marginalise those in Africa only further. By the time those countries will have wide access to the vaccine, it might easily be 2023!

romania carpathians moeciu de sus
Romania’s Carpathian Mountains basking in autumn sunlight. ©Paliparan

Ethical

And then I didn’t even start the ethical discussion yet if such exemptions for vaccinated people might constitute a de-facto compulsory vaccination programme.

Personally, I have no doubts about the corona virus vaccines at all and gladly take my jabs when it is finally my turn, although I’m certainly liberal-minded enough to fully believe in bodily integrity and people deciding for themselves whether or not they want to get a vaccine.

Solidarity

Even though I think these are all legitimate points, I still think that Romania’s way forward is the right one. First of all, if one group should be able to reap the benefits of the corona virus vaccine, it might be the medical workers who worked so tirelessly and selfless during the last year.

The same counts for the elderly and people with high-risk medical preconditions. As a young, healthy person I’m not personally scared or intimidated by the ongoing corona virus pandemic, although I try to be careful as I’m obviously aware of the risks of passing it on to others!

But I can only imagine the fear and anxiety those must feel who are in vulnerable groups. I’m highly supportive of letting these people have their normal lives back first before it is the turn of the younger age groups.

humor painted monasteries bucovina romania
Mănăstirea Humorului (Humor Monastery), one of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. ©Paliparan

Caveat

I do however have one major concern, and that is countries not willing to roll back corona virus entry restrictions quickly enough, or keeping unreasonably harsh restrictions in place.

Although it sucks having to deal with PCR tests, isolation requirements and travel restrictions – these are in place for a reason. If the entire vulnerable population of a country has been vaccinated, I would say that it should constitute the perfect time to get back to normal immediately.

While we are getting there, I would like to stress that there should always be a reasonable way for unvaccinated people to travel. I don’t care at all if a doctor, nurse or pensioner can pass straight through at immigration while I might have to deal with some added paperwork – but it should be reasonable.

There should always be a non-intrusive, stressless and easy way to visit countries. It wouldn’t be fair if vaccinated people can roam freely through let’s say Australia, while the country would still ban non-vaccinated people or require a full two-week quarantine.

The same would certainly count for Romania as well. Although I welcome their move to let vaccinated travellers into the country, I certainly hope they make it easier as well for others who still have to wait to get their shots!

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Looking down over the Transylvanian town of Râșnov. ©Paliparan

In short

Romania will soon exempt vaccinated tourists from all special corona virus entry restrictions. I can’t help but being fascinated by this, as I’m really wondering how the next months will be like when it comes to the potential easing of restrictions in the world of travel.

Personally, I think the Romanian example is a good, interesting one – which without doubt will be followed up by many other states across the world.

Although it will certainly lead to an interesting ethical discussion whether or not such measures are right, I think that in the end it is the right way to proceed. However, countries must be careful not to exclude large groups of people and should really consider easing restrictions altogether once all high risk groups are being vaccinated.

What do you think of Romania’s plan?

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Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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