Travel to the Netherlands during Covid-19

3 months ago 25

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(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to the Netherlands, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

The Netherlands introduced a strict lockdown in December 2020, following a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases. The country's first night time curfew since World War II was brought in in January, leading to rioting in major cities.

The Netherlands has since eased restrictions as it looks to return to normal life -- although the Dutch prime minister has apologized for easing restrictions too soon, and brought some of them back in.

What's on offer

Amsterdam is the Netherlands' biggest draw, with its picture-perfect canals, spectacular architecture and cafe culture. But beyond the capital there is much to love, from elegant administrative capital The Hague to the increasingly hip port of Rotterdam. Outdoor lovers won't feel shortchanged either, with excellent cycling routes and water sports options on offer.

Who can go

European Union residents are allowed to enter the Netherlands for any reason, but there are different rules for those traveling from "safe" areas within the EU/Schengen area and those traveling from areas deemed high risk.

Travelers arriving from safe areas must fill in a health declaration before their arrival and take a Covid test once they've entered the Netherlands, while those coming from high risk areas must provide either proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from coronavirus or a negative Covid test result.

Visitors from other countries not deemed very high risk (with a variant of concern) can enter the Netherlands.

Currently, the following destinations outside the EU considered "safe": Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Hong Kong, Jordan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Svalbard, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay. A full list of safe countries, regularly updated, can be found on the Dutch government website.

Destinations outside the EU considered as "very high risk" are: Afghanistan, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Eswatini, French Guiana, French Polynesia, Georgia, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, India, Israel, Lesotho, Malaysia, Martinique, Mongolia, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestinian territories, Philippines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Seychelles, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.

Vaccinated travelers arriving from countries deemed as "very high risk" will need to provide proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test result before being permitted to travel to the Netherlands.

However, the country has just reversed its decision to bring in a mandatory 10-day quarantine for fully-vaccinated travelers from "very high-risk" areas. From September 22, vaccinated visitors arriving "very high-risk" areas will be required to submit the results of a negative PCR or antigen test in order to visit, but will not need to go into quarantine.

Unvaccinated travelers from "very high-risk" areas are currently subject to a 10-day quarantine requirement.

What are the restrictions?

Vaccinated travelers from "safe" countries within the EU do not need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter the Netherlands.

Those coming from "very high risk" countries must show the results of a negative PCR or antigen test (taken within 48 and 24 hours respectively if arriving by plane).

Travelers arriving from safe areas outside of the EU must provide proof of vaccination,or a negative PCR test result or antigen test taken within 48 hours (or collected within 24 hours for antigen tests).

Unvaccinated travelers from "very high-risk" areas outside of the EU are require to quarantine for 10 days. Returning a further negative test on day five of quarantine means visitors from these countries can move around the country freely. You can make an appointment to get tested once you are in the Netherlands by calling 0800 1202.

All travelers must complete a health screening form, which can be downloaded here.

What's the Covid situation?

Covid cases spiked in mid-July in the Netherlands, albeit from a low base, driven in part by the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant. Cases have been trending downwards. As of October 21 there have been nearly 2.1 million cases in the country, with 26,848 in the past week. There have been 18,709 deaths from Covid. So far, around 67% of the population is fully vaccinated.

What can visitors expect?

The Dutch government relaxed restrictions in June, before bringing some of them back on July 9, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologizing for having eased them too soon.

Nightclubs were closed again, while summer festivals were called off.

However, the rules were relaxed yet again on September 25. The 1.5 meters social distancing requirement has been dropped and nightclubs have reopened.

While masks are no longer required in indoor public spaces, including train stations, everyone over 13 is still required to wear one in airports on aircraft, trains, buses, trams and metros, in taxis and on other commercial passenger transport.

Those who do not do so could face fines of €95 ($112).

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There's a proud Dutch tradition of allowing visitors to peep into their homes, with locals leaving their blinds and curtains wide open after dark. (Great after a year spent staring at the same four walls). One other tradition has become less easy -- marijuana access for tourists has been curbed.

Amsterdam streets that were once heaving with tourists are now far quieter, making it possible to see the city as it used to be. And there's always the chance you can gawp at the super rich as they try to squeeze their massive yachts down those picturesque canals.

Joe Minihane and Julia Buckley contributed to this report

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