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Europe Becomes Once Again the Epicentre of COVID-19 – What It Means for Travel

The number of Coronavirus cases has once again spiked up across the European Union and Schengen Area countries, in spite of the high vaccination rates across the block.

Only within the last 24 hours, data by the World Health Organization show that Germany has recorded 23,607 new cases, Hungary 21,060, France 12,508, Netherlands 12,052, and Austria 11,227.

The number of deaths has also spiked up, with Hungary having recorded the highest number of deaths in 24 hours, with a total of 304 patients having passed away due to complications caused by the virus.

More Restrictions as Cases Surge Across Europe

Amid the increasing cases, the EU Member States have already started imposing stricter restrictions on their citizens, as well as on travel from outside the country.

The Netherlands, for example, at the beginning of this month, has extended the requirement to present a COVID-19 passport to access certain places while also bringing back the obligation to wear masks in public places like stores and libraries.

It won’t surprise anybody that we again have a tough message this evening…Tough because we, unfortunately, have to ask more of people now that the infection numbers and hospital numbers are rising quickly,” Dutch Prime Minister Rutte had said during a nationally televised press conference back then.

In Germany, on the other hand, several states have tightened up restrictions, including Berlin, which on last Monday announced that only those who are fully vaccinated and those who have recently recovered from COVID-19 would have access to restaurants, cinemas, museums and concert venues.

On Thursday, the country’s parliament is set to vote on a new legal framework for Coronavirus restrictions.

The Austrian government has taken even tougher measures, imposing a lockdown for its two million unvaccinated citizens.

We are not taking this step lightly, but unfortunately, it is necessary,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said, announcing the move.

This means that unvaccinated people, who up until now have been banned from visiting restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas, are now guided to stay at home until the government comes with another decision.

The police will carry out checks, and unvaccinated people who do not respect the new rules will be fined.

Member States Imposing More Stringent Entry Restrictions

eu border controls

Some of the member states have also tightened up entry restrictions. Last week, France started to ask non-vaccinated travellers from 16 EU countries to present COVID-19 tests taken within 24 hours before reaching the country. Previously, travellers could present tests taken within 72 hours.

These countries are Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Similarly, other EU and Schengen Area countries have expanded their lists of unsafe countries, travellers from which are subject to additional entry requirements upon arrival.

Only last Friday, Germany has added Austria, Czechia, Hungary, and Laos to its high-risk list. Travellers from these countries should register at einreiseanmeldung.de, while those who are not vaccinated have to test for COVID-19 and quarantine for a period of ten days.

Spain has also added France and three regions of Italy – Basilicata, Lombardy, Piedmont – to its high-risk list, which currently consists of almost every EU and Schengen Area country.

The non-EU Schengen Member Norway has also narrowed down its list of safe countries, leaving only Spain on it.

Other EU countries that have imposed more stringent restrictions in the past days:

Moreover, the majority of these countries have started to make third doses against COVID-19 available for younger people as well, in a bid to strengthen

What the Increasing Number of Cases in EU Means for Incoming Travellers

The increasing number of cases throughout the old continent will push the Member States to impose more restrictions in the following weeks, in particular as the year-end holidays approach.

Travellers who aren’t vaccinated against COVID are, in particular, advised to pay utmost attention to the changing rules, as sometimes they might be updated on short notice. They must always check the testing rules, as well as the period of time they will have to spend in quarantine so that they arrange their trip better.

Unvaccinated travellers should also note that at the moment, they do not have access to bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and museums in several countries in the EU, like in Austria, where a vaccination or recovery document is mandatory.

If the cases increase further, and the Member States fail to tackle the situation with the current measures, lockdowns will be imposed, in particular on non-vaccinated travellers throughout the continent.

Last week, SchegnenVisaInfo.com reported that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which is the EU health agency, has advised against travel to the majority of the EU countries due to the number of cases in the areas.

Based on the data published by ECDC, the countries with the most severe situation are Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary, Slovenia, and Slovakia.

The EU countries, however, have some of the highest vaccination rates in the block. According to ECDC, the cumulative uptake of full vaccination in the total population in the EU/EEA is at 64.9 per cent.

Portugal is the EU country with the highest rate of COVID-19 vaccination, as 81.3 per cent of the country’s population is fully vaccinated. Other countries with high complete vaccination rates are also Ireland (75.9 per cent), Iceland (76.5 per cent), Denmark (75.7 per cent), etc.

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