COVID-19 is spiking (again) in parts of Europe and it might affect your next vacation
An increase in coronavirus cases across Europe has seen a slew of countries introduce additional measures to slow the spread of the virus.
Just as the world seemingly begins to lessen restrictions for what many hoped would be the first "normal" holiday season, Europe has found itself once again at the epicenter of the pandemic.
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According to the World Health Organization, last week saw nearly 2 million new cases of COVID-19, a 50% month-on-month increase and the most in a single week for the continent since the very beginning of the pandemic.
During the same week, the rise in cases resulted in almost 27,000 deaths, more than half of all COVID-19 deaths reported globally.
Related: It’s getting harder to travel if you’re not vaccinated
The figures come after WHO European director Dr. Hans Kluge warned earlier this month that, “Europe is back at the epicenter of the pandemic, where we were one year ago.”
The news has prompted several nations to both consider and enforce the return of restrictions including major holiday destinations such as the Netherlands, Austria and France.
The latest updates to European COVID-19 restrictions
On Sunday, Nov. 14, the government put in place a nationwide lockdown for anyone unvaccinated and older than 12 years of age. Those affected by the lockdown are banned from leaving their homes for anything other than essential activities such as going to work, shopping, getting their vaccination or daily exercise.
Austria's seven-day infection rate is one of the highest in Europe with 800 cases per 100,000 people. Perhaps most concerning, the nation has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe, with only 65% of Austrians fully vaccinated according to the BBC.
The measures are planned to be in place for the next 10 days, at which they will be reviewed.
On Nov. 8, the Scandinavian country reintroduced its COVID health pass. The news came just two months after the nation had stopped using it on Sept. 10.
The app-based pass is required by anyone over the age of 15 when attending outdoor events with capacities larger than 2,000 and when entering nightclubs, cafes, party buses and seated indoor dining establishments. A paper version of the pass is also available.
The French government announced on Nov. 12 that they would be placing new restrictions on unvaccinated vacationers. Travelers arriving that haven’t received their vaccination ho must now provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 24 hours of their departure; previously this was set at 72 hours.
In addition, from Dec. 15, any travelers who are over the age of 65 must not only have been fully vaccinated for more than six months and five weeks, but also be able to show proof of receiving an approved COVID-19 booster.
Belgium, Greece and the Netherlands have also been placed “under surveillance" by the French government, after seeing their own spikes in cases.
The nation has extended current restrictions on entry from countries outside the European Union and the European Economic Area until Nov. 24, an additional two weeks to the original plan.
This means travelers from just 41 countries are eligible to enter the country. The list includes the U.S. and the U.K., among others.
Vacationers will also be asked to complete an electronic Passenger Locator Form – this is regardless of nationality. The form will be shared with the traveler's email address and should be presented upon arrival.
One of the following will still be compulsory for anyone to be permitted entry to Greece:
- Proof of vaccination: The final dose must be taken at least 14 days before departure.
- Proof of recovery from COVID-19: The validity of which lasts for up to 180 days, and must be issued 30 days after testing positive.
- Negative COVID-19 test results: If using a PCR test it must be taken at least 72 hours before traveling, and rapid tests to be taken 48 hours before arriving in Greece.
For unvaccinated people wishing to access public services such as banks, shops and hair salons, they will need to show a negative rapid or PCR test. This is also the same for cafes and restaurants which are allowed to serve unvaccinated people provided that they are outdoors.
The nation imposed a partial Christmas lockdown on Saturday, Nov. 13, which is expected to be in place for the next three weeks and includes restrictions on nonessential shops and sporting events.
Although some exceptions apply, for the majority of travelers you will only be given entry to the Netherlands if you have been fully vaccinated (with proof of the inoculation such as the NHS COVID Pass).
The measures come after the nation reported more than 16,000 new cases, its highest recording since the pandemic began in 2020.
For double-jabbed travelers you will be asked to provide one for the following to enter the country:
- A negative PCR test result (taken no more than 48 hours before departure)
- A negative antigen test result (taken no more than 24 hours before departure)
Fully vaccinated travelers at the time of writing are exempt from quarantine on arrival in the Netherlands.