Europe, as one of the world’s most affected parts by the virus, has recorded some of the highest COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, in addition to the spread of the new variant throughout the continent as well.
The European Union Member States, since late November when the Omicron variant was first reported, have imposed entry bans on southern African countries, and some of them even on the United Kingdom and other EU countries as Denmark and the Netherlands.
Other countries have added more areas to their red lists, thus obliging more travellers to quarantine upon arrival.
The most common measure to crack on the spread of the virus, taken by the EU and Schengen Area countries, has been additional testing obligations, mainly pre-departure, for incoming travellers. Yet, each member state has its own rules and requirements when it comes to testing for COVID-19, as explained below.
Austria Exempts Only Those With Booster Shots From Test Requirement
Since December 20, all travellers eligible to enter Austria are obliged to present negative results of a PCR test taken pre-departure. Exempt are only those who have received a COVID-19 booster shot.
“New stricter entry measures came in effect on December 20. To enter Austria, the “2-G” rule (proof of vaccination/recovery) is currently in place. In addition, you need a negative PCR test OR proof of a booster jab,” the official Austrian travel website explains.
The PCR test should be taken within 48 hours before reaching Austria. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the requirement, as well as teenagers who are eligible for the Holiday Ninja Pass.
Denmark, Finland, Greece & Italy Impose Testing Requirement on ALL Travellers, Including EU Nationals
The Danish authorities have also decided to impose stricter testing entry restrictions on all travellers, including EU nationals. Travellers, regardless of their vaccination status, will have to present negative results of a PCR test performed 72 hours before arrival or of a rapid test performed 48 hours before.
“The requirement also applies to vaccinated persons, but not to previously infected people,” the Danish Ministry of Health notes in a press release, thus becoming the first EU country to exempt only recovered persons from such a requirement, and not those vaccinated.
Since December 21, Finland has also imposed an obligation to present a negative COVID-19 test result for all persons who travel from a country outside the EU/Schengen Area. Thus, only travellers from third countries with a vaccination certificate plus negative results of a COVID-19 test are permitted to enter Finland.
Whereas from December 28, all travellers who enter Finland from the EU/EEA countries are required to present a vaccination or recovery certificate as well as a negative COVID-19 test result. In order to make sure that all travellers comply with the requirement, Finland will also introduce internal border controls with the Schengen Area countries starting from the same date.
“Due to the rapid spread of the new coronavirus variant, compensatory measures under the Communicable Diseases Act alone are not enough to safeguard the carrying capacity of health care,” the government noted, justifying its decision.
The obligation to test before entering the country has also been imposed by the Greek authorities since December 19, and the same obligation is set to remain effective until January 1, 2022.
“Travellers arriving in Greece, regardless of nationality, their vaccination status or proof of recovery, are required to display a negative molecular test result (PCR) for Covid-19 performed up to 72 hours before the scheduled arrival, or a negative Rapid Antigen test result for Covid-19 performed up to 24 hours before the scheduled arrival,” the Greek authorities explains.
At the same time, all travellers may also be subject to random testing upon arrival in Greece. Those who are selected for testing must undergo it. If they refuse to do so, the authorities retain the right to refuse entry into the country for that person.
Italy also obliges all travellers to test for COVID-19 before reaching its territory, in addition to the other requirements, like the obligation to show proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19.
“For those who also come from EU countries but are not vaccinated, it will not be enough to show the negative swab to circulate in Italy, but they will incur the obligation of quarantine. Not only. The vaccinated will also be asked to show a negative swab result,” Italian authorities announced on December 14.
Belgium Applies Testing Requirements According to the Colour-Coded Maps
In Belgium, testing rules apply to travellers according to the colour with which their country of residence is marked.
Travellers from the green category, in which are placed the majority of EU/Schengen countries as well as Bahrain, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kuwait, Macau, New Zealand, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Taiwan, are exempt from any testing obligation upon arrival in Belgium.
Whereas travellers from the red EU and Schengen countries are obliged to present proof of vaccination, recovery or negative COVID-19 test results upon arrival. The latter will also have to test again on the seventh day.
Those who show up at Belgium’s ports of entry with none of the above three will have to get tested on the first or second day in Belgium. They will also have to get tested again on the seventh day.
As per travellers from red third countries who have a vaccination certificate, they have to test on the first and the seventh day upon arrival. Those who aren’t vaccinated have to quarantine for ten days and get tested for COVID-10 on the first and seventh days. Those who result negative for the second time can end quarantine prematurely.
Mandatory COVID-19 Test Results for ALL Travellers Upon Arrival in Ireland
Whereas in Ireland, the obligation to present COVID-19 test results has been in force since December 5.
While those vaccinated and recovered can show either a PCR test taken within 72 hours or an antigen test taken within 48 hours upon arrival, the antigen tests are not accepted for those who are neither vaccinated nor recovered.
“Passengers without proof of vaccination or recovery must show a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of arrival,” the Irish authorities have decided.
France, Netherlands Oblige Third-Country Visitors to Test Before Their Trip
France has obliged visitors from third countries to test for COVID-19 before their departure to France since December 4, including those vaccinated and recovered. The test must be taken 48 hours before arrival, and it must be a PCR test, as other types of tests are not accepted.
Only travellers under the age of 12 are exempt from the pre-entry testing obligation in France.
Third-country nationals should also be aware that they might have to undergo further testing upon arrival in France.
Czechia to Impose Pre-Entry Test Obligation for Third-Country Travellers
Starting from Monday, December 27, the Czech Republic will also make pre-departure COVID-19 testing an obligation for all travellers from third countries.
“For citizens of the Czech Republic, citizens of the EU and third countries with temporary or permanent residence in the Czech Republic, the conditions for returning to the country will remain the same as before,” the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted, announcing the decision.
Other EU and Schengen Area countries that oblige travellers to test before they reach their territory:
Norway Introduces Mandatory Testing Requirement for All Travellers
Portugal Announces New COVID-19 Measures – Imposes Testing Rules Even for Vaccinated Travellers
Sweden Introduces Testing Requirement for All Travellers, Regardless of Vaccination Status
Switzerland Imposes Stricter Testing Requirements
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