A range of COVID-19 protection measures are being applied across Europe as infection rates soar © Getty Images
A range of COVID-19 protection measures are being applied across Europe as infection rates soar © Getty Images

Traveling to Europe? What to know about new COVID-19 rules as infection rates climb

TripFalcon November 12, 2021

Last Update: 2024-01-03 19:12:03

A fresh wave of COVID-19 infections has prompted some European countries to reimpose restrictions as the World Health Organization warns the region is now at the "epicenter" of the pandemic once again.

The Netherlands
The Dutch prime minister yesterday announced a partial three-week lockdown across the Netherlands to limit social gatherings and force businesses such as restaurants, bars and non-essential shops to close at 7pm. The restrictions come into effect on Saturday amid record-breaking COVID-19 case numbers that are putting enormous strain the health care system. Face masks will be mandatory in more places and the rules of the Netherlands' COVID-19 pass will be expanded, according to the Ministry of Health.

Meanwhile, Austria is considering a lockdown on unvaccinated people—including tourists—as the winter hotspot's ski season gets underway. An official decision is expected later today, but it's likely from Sunday people without proof of vaccination will be unable to leave their homes or accommodation for nonessential reasons. "Our aim is clear: we want on Sunday to give the green light for a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated," Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told local media. According to Reuters, Austria has the lowest vaccination rate in Europe with just 65% of the population fully inoculated against COVID-19.


Greece is also tightening restrictions on unvaccinated people as the country roars towards a fourth wave of the pandemic. A record number of daily infections were recorded there on Monday and unvaccinated people account for the majority of them. "We are facing a fourth wave," which "mainly concerns the unvaccinated," the Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Wednesday per AFP. While Mitsotakis didn't specify what these new measures would entail, it's likely they could involve an extension of Greece's health pass.

Meanwhile Denmark is set to reintroduce its health pass, or coronavirus passport, as infections climb. Denmark was one of the first countries to drop all COVID-19 restrictions in September, but officials have warned that the virus is once again "a critical threat to society". The government will decide on Tuesday what measures to adopt but if the pass is reintroduced, it means that people will need to show proof of vaccination to enter cafés, indoor restaurants, nightclubs and large events.

France is also experiencing a fifth wave and is doubling down on its health pass conditions. From December, anyone over the age of 65 who is entitled to a COVID-19 booster jab but doesn't get one will be barred from entering venues where the health pass is required. This also applies to tourists.


Waning immunity, cold temperatures and a relatively low vaccination rate (67%) have pushed infection rates up in Germany to record levels. "Combined with the lack of contact restrictions, [the vaccination rate] is allowing the virus to spread almost exclusively among the unvaccinated," said Dr. Christine Falk, president of the German Society for Immunology. New restrictions are expected to be introduced next week but, in the meantime, people have been asked to reduce their contacts, stick with masks, and some of Germany's most popular Christmas markets will be checking people's COVID status before entry.

Iceland introduced new measures today to get ahead of growing infection rates. Restaurants and bars will close at 10pm, and spas, pools and ski areas will operate at 75% capacity. The measures are a result of the "sharp rise in infections in the country and the resulting growing strain on the health-care system, contact tracing team and quarantine centres," the Ministry of Health said, as it confirmed the restrictions would stay in place until December 8.

Other European countries are also scrambling to reimpose coronavirus protection measures that were dropped weeks ago as case numbers rise. This week, Belgium expanded the use of its COVID-19 pass to cover the entire country and reintroduced its mask mandate. The Local Norway reports that officials there are considering bringing back Norway's COVID-19 pass too, and Croatia is expanding its COVID-19 pass terms and asking people to cut back on social gatherings for the next few weeks.

If you have any trips booked, please consult the website of your embassy in the destination you are traveling to for the latest COVID-19 entry and domestic updates. The situation is likely to remain volatile as temperatures drop and governments rush to accelerate booster shot campaigns. Rules could be reintroduced or extended with little-to-no notice depending on the state of the virus.

Source: lonelyplanet