COVID-19 is spiking (again) in parts of Europe and it might impact your next holiday

Nov 15, 2021

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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 epicentre of the pandemic.

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According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 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 epicentre 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

View of the Alps from Hohe Tauren National Park, Austria. (Photo by PictureLake/Getty)


On Sunday 14 November 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. 


Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark (Photo by @tonyvee via Twenty20)

On 8 November, the Scandinavian country reintroduced its COVID health pass. The news came just two months after the nation had stopped using it on 10 September.

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. 


A sunset over the River Seine in Paris, France. (Photo by Sylvain Sonnet/Getty)

The French government announced on 12 November that they would be placing new restrictions on unvaccinated holidaymakers. Travellers arriving that haven’t received their jabs who must now provide a negative PCR test within 24 hours of their departure; previously this was set at 72 hours.

In addition, from 15 December, any travellers 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. 

At present, the U.K. is currently on France’s Amber List meaning they must abide by the above unless travelling for essential reasons.

Belgium, Greece and the Netherlands have also been placed “under surveillance” by the French government, after seeing their own spikes in cases. 


(Photo by Benjamin Smithson/The Points Guy)

The nation has extended current restrictions on entry from countries outside the European Union and the European Economic Area until 24 November, an additional two weeks to the original plan. 

This means travellers from just 41 countries are eligible to enter the country. 

The list, which includes the U.K., is as follows: Australia, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Argentina, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, China, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Israel, India, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Oman, Qatar, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uruguay and the Vatican.

Holidaymakers will also be asked to complete an electronic Passenger Locator Form – this is regardless of nationality. The form will be shared with the traveller’s email address and should be presented upon arrival. 

Bolstering this, one of the following will also 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 travelling, 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. This is also the same for cafes and restaurants which are allowed to serve unvaccinated people provided that they are outdoors.


Image of Amsterdam in Red Light district area or around Dam Square. Image taken with Nikon D800 and professional Nikon lens, developed from RAW in XXXL size. Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe

The nation imposed a partial Christmas lockdown on Saturday 13 November expected to be in place for the next three weeks, which includes restrictions on nonessential shops and sporting events.

Although some exceptions apply, for the majority of travellers you will only be given entry to the Netherlands if you have received both vaccination jabs (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 travellers 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 travellers at the time of writing are exempt from quarantine on arrival in the Netherlands.

For other additional information please check the government’s foreign travel advice.

Featured image by Getty Images

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