The summer holidays are still in full swing in many parts of Europe – but getting there can be either a nightmare or a breeze, depending on what level of bureaucracy and pandemic hurdles you need to get through.
The pandemic is still not making it easy for travelers everywhere and the way the virus is dealt with in Europe varies greatly.
Some countries are relaxing the rules, others are tightening them, and in some places, there are advantages for those who have been vaccinated.
Here's an overview of what to consider when planning your trip (as of Aug. 19).
Only tested, vaccinated and previously infected people are allowed entry into Austria, as well as to hotels, restaurants and events. Those who are fully vaccinated, tested or recovered can use practically all services without hindrance. Masks are compulsory in supermarkets and public transport. Vienna is stricter: there, masks are compulsory in all shops. Children in the capital need a test from ages six and up; in the rest of the country only from 12. In Austria, many free test offers are available to tourists. In view of rising infection figures, the government is considering restrictions for the unvaccinated – but only after the holiday season.
In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, public life has largely normalized with the relaxation of the previously strict coronavirus rules. However, there are still restrictions in some areas – partly with privileges for those who have been proven to be vaccinated and those who have recovered. At the same time, delta variant infections have increased amid a slowdown in the pace of vaccination. The first new restrictions have therefore been adopted. Those entering from EU countries must register. Those entering from countries with higher infection rates may have to present a negative coronavirus test and be quarantined. In Estonia, entrants from some countries are exempt from both requirements; in Latvia and Lithuania, non-vaccinated persons must present a negative coronavirus test.
Those entering the country must fill out a form online in advance – unless they are staying in the country for less than 48 hours and are coming by car or train from Germany to Belgium. Those coming from an area with higher infection rates may have to quarantine. Stricter hygiene rules have not yet been announced in relation to the increasing number of cases in recent weeks, however, officials have been discussing further steps.
Hotels, restaurants, cafes as well as fitness centers, cinemas and museums welcome visitors – regardless of whether they are vaccinated, have survived an infection, are tested or none of the above. Coronavirus case numbers are rising, but so far no relaxations have been rolled back. Masks are compulsory in shops, banks and public transport. Holidaymakers from most EU countries are allowed to enter with a vaccination, recovery or test certificate. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from this regulation.
The popular holiday country requires a certificate from tourists proving that they have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from an infection. Hotels can receive guests without restrictions. Restaurants are allowed to serve in their indoor areas, except for cafes without food service, which are only allowed to serve outside. Attendance at public gatherings is restricted. The seven-day incidence in August is higher in Dalmatia and much lower in Istria.
Due to the high number of cases, several foreign ministries have warned about travel to this island and classified it as a high-risk area. Quarantine may be required upon return if you do not have a negative coronavirus test, proof of recovery or vaccination. Cyprus, for its part, is welcoming travelers from some EU countries without a negative test but requires they fill out the "Cyprus Flight Pass" on the website https://cyprusflightpass.gov.cy/ at least 48 hours beforehand and always carry it with them during their holiday.
The number of new infections remains low. The government has decided on further easing measures. For example, six people are allowed to sit at a table in restaurants instead of four. A negative coronavirus test or complete proof of vaccination is sufficient for travelers from several EU countries. In addition, an online registration form must be filled out in advance. Restaurants, cinemas, swimming pools and concert halls allow entry to only vaccinated, tested and recovered people. An FFP2 mask must be worn when shopping and on public transport – a simple surgical mask is not sufficient. In the Czech Republic, half of the population is now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
In Denmark, new infection figures have risen again after the holidays, but this is not considered dramatic because there are hardly any deaths linked to COVID-19. Public life in Denmark is almost back to normal. Health authorities now recommend keeping your distance where possible. The 1-meter rule has been lifted. Even on buses or trains, you no longer have to wear mouth-nose protection. Travelers from Germany and some other countries can go on holiday in Denmark even if they have not yet been vaccinated but must show a negative test at the border.
The increase in the number of infections and coronavirus patients has slowed. A negative test, proof of vaccination or proof of recovery is required when entering the country from most EU states. Bars, restaurants, shops and museums as well as large shopping centers are open under hygiene regulations. A negative coronavirus test, proof of vaccination or proof of recovery is required for visiting. This also applies to travel by coach or long-distance train. In some areas, there are stricter rules, such as earlier closing times or compulsory wearing of masks outdoors.
Fully vaccinated people tested or recovered people arriving from EU states are freely able to enter the country, as are people from a number of other low-risk countries. Germany has largely relaxed its restrictions, and while measures can vary from federal state to state, outdoor dining has largely resumed and museums and bars reopened. Face masks are still required indoors, even when getting up from a restaurant table and on public transport. Due to rising infection rates, some areas, such as Berlin, are requiring proof of vaccination, test or recovery for indoor services, such as hairdressers and gyms.
In Greece, the number of new infections remains high in August. The major cities and parts of tourist islands such as Crete, Rhodes, Lesbos and Naxos are particularly affected – and mainly people aged under 40. There is a ban on dancing in bars and clubs and only vaccinated people are allowed in closed rooms such as cinemas and theatres. In some places, a mini-lockdown with a night-time curfew has also been temporarily imposed. Before entering Greece, visitors enter their data on the website https://travel.gov.gr/#/ and receive a QR code for tracking. They must also present a negative rapid test or be fully vaccinated. This also applies to children over the age of twelve.
People can enter without restrictions by land or water. By air, EU tourists can only come if they can show the vaccination certificate that is valid throughout the EU. Hotel overnight stays are possible without restrictions, as are visits to restaurants. In addition, masks are no longer compulsory – except in hospitals and old people's homes. For large events with more than 500 participants, access is only permitted with a vaccination certificate (or EU vaccination certificate) valid in Hungary.
In Ireland, fully vaccinated people have significantly more freedom than unvaccinated people – for example in restaurants, pubs and at private meetings. Due to rising coronavirus numbers, there are still limits on how many people can meet and go to a restaurant together. Proof of vaccination must also be presented there. For travelers from the EU with proof of an EU vaccination certificate, quarantine is no longer mandatory after entry. Only arrivals from countries with particularly high numbers of cases or dangerous variants are required to isolate themselves in the hotel.
In the popular holiday country, the daily coronavirus case numbers are holding at a stable level. To be allowed inside a restaurant or a museum, you need a coronavirus vaccination certificate, a negative test or proof that you have survived infection. In Italy, this is also possible with the digital coronavirus certificate, which is called a green passport there. Anyone traveling to Italy needs an entry form and the so-called green passport – digital or printed out.
In Luxembourg, the number of new coronavirus infections has been declining for weeks. The seven-day incidence was recently below 50. The Grand Duchy continues to maintain a number of protective measures: masks are compulsory in many public areas, for example in buses and trains. Hotels, restaurants and cultural venues are open. Restrictions for arrivals from non-risk countries have largely relaxed and only air travelers must present a negative coronavirus test, proof of vaccination or recovery.
In the smallest EU country, daily infection figures remain stable while more and more people are vaccinated against COVID-19 and the government continues to ease restrictions. A maximum of 300 people are now allowed to attend events and then 500 by the end of August. Around 90% of those to be vaccinated are fully immunized. Proof of vaccination is required to enter Malta.
The Netherlands is no longer a high-risk area, so the quarantine obligation for returnees has also been lifted. But the number of new infections and patients in hospitals remains high. Nevertheless, public life is hardly restricted. Discos and nightclubs are closed, festivals are prohibited. Restaurants have to close at midnight. But otherwise, museums, theaters, zoos and cinemas are open, as are restaurants and shops. Masks are only compulsory on buses, trains and at airports. If a safe distance cannot be maintained at events, visitors may be required to provide a negative test result or proof of vaccination.
In Norway, the number of new infections has reached the level of May again. However, as the vaccination rate is relatively high, there is not much concern. Only a few infected persons have to be treated in hospitals. Shops and restaurants are open almost everywhere in the country without restrictions. Wearing masks on buses and trains is no longer compulsory. Entry is smoothest for those arriving from non-risk countries who have been vaccinated and have recovered. All others have to fill out an entry form and take a quick test at the border.
A 10-day quarantine applies when entering the country from EU countries. However, entrants with a negative coronavirus test not older than 48 hours, as well as fully vaccinated and recovered persons are exempt. Shopping centers, hotels, museums and art galleries are open under hygiene regulations. Restaurants are allowed to serve guests, but only at 75% capacity indoors. Because vaccinated people are not counted in the capacity restrictions, it is easier for them to get a free hotel room or table. Gyms and indoor swimming pools are in operation. A maximum of 150 guests are allowed at parties. Masks are compulsory indoors and on buses and trains. The delta variant is now responsible for 86% of new infections.
In this high-risk area, the situation is improving: the 14-day incidence has dropped to 314 after the summer peak of 438 in July. Restrictions are being gradually eased. But there are still, among other things, capacity restrictions as well as a strict mask requirement even outdoors. A vaccination certificate or a negative test must be presented to visit the indoor areas of many facilities. On entry, anyone who has not been vaccinated or recovered must present a negative test from the age of 12.
Tourists from low-risk EU countries do not need proof of vaccination or testing in Romania and do not have to go into quarantine. Restaurants are open without restrictions. Outdoors, and also on beaches, distance requirements apply. Face masks can only be worn in enclosed public areas. Depending on the incidence of coronavirus, however, restrictions may be imposed at any time in individual places, including limiting the number of guests in restaurants. Clubs, arcades and bars are only open to those who have been fully vaccinated.
Guests need COVID-19 certificates to visit clubs and large events, proving that they have survived an infection or been vaccinated or tested. The EU certificate is recognized. Masks are only compulsory indoors, for example in shops, restaurants, theaters, sports halls and on public transport. Private gatherings are permitted without restrictions outside with 50, inside with 30 people. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Switzerland has accepted higher infection rates in exchange for fewer restrictions on daily life. Air passengers without a certificate need a negative coronavirus test to enter the country. By land, entry is possible without restrictions.
Unvaccinated travelers are subject to quarantine, from which they can be exempted with a test after five days at the earliest. The government justifies this with the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus and at the same time wants to raise vaccination rates. Even those who have been vaccinated must register online before entering the country. Masks are compulsory in shops and public transport, as well as outdoors at mass events. Restaurant owners can decide for themselves whether to require proof of vaccination from guests or, as before, only allow a certain number of people in.
When crossing the border, travelers must prove that they have either been vaccinated or tested or have recovered from an infection. Children under 15 and transit travelers are exempt until Aug. 22. A certificate is also required for transit. Holidaymakers who have neither been vaccinated nor recovered must therefore take a PCR or antigen test before the return journey. Outdoor catering is open to all, indoor areas of restaurants and clubs can only be used by those who have been vaccinated or tested or who have recovered.
Although the seven-day incidence dropped from 215 to 162 within one week, the popular holiday destination is still classified as a high-risk area. When returning to your country you may need to quarantine if you have not recovered from an infection or been vaccinated. In some regions, there are still relatively strict restrictions such as curfews and bans on gathering at nighttime.
Turkey is witnessing an increase in coronavirus infections, leading some governments to class it as a high-risk area. This may mean you will need to quarantine upon returning. Vaccinated and recovered persons can freely enter the country, all others are required to show a recent negative test. Cafes, restaurants and other guest facilities are open, there are no longer any restrictions. A mask requirement in public remains in place.
With a seven-day incidence of just under 300, infection figures in the U.K. remain at a very high level in August but have been stagnating in this range for a while. Since there are now relaxed entry rules and no quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated entrants from the EU and the U.S., sightseeing buses with tourists have returned to the streets of London again. A test is still required before entry, and a PCR test must also be booked for the second day after arrival, for which a fee is charged. The U.K. is still considered a high-risk area by some countries, so only vaccinated people may be able to avoid quarantine upon return.
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