As the rise in cases continues to swell throughout all of Europe, many countries are responding with sudden lockdowns, closures, states of emergency, and many new travel restrictions.
The news can be overwhelming for many, especially those already in Europe trying to navigate through the swift changes, and those with pre-booked trips with dates that are quickly approaching.
Here is a summary of the major changes happening in Europe this past week, including new restrictions, rules and lockdowns that travelers need to be aware of.
In this article we will cover: Germany, France, Belgium, UK, Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, plus the EU nations that have changed border rules.
Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, has announced a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars, gyms, pools, theatres and cinemas, beginning on November 2. “We must act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency,” said Merkel. Gatherings of over 10 people will also be prohibited.
Germany’s new shut down rules also restrict all hotel stays that are for leisure, making it virtually impossible to be a tourist within Germany’s borders for the next month.
Aida cruises, who has been resuming operations on a slow and phased basis, is also affected by the German lock-down and will be suspending services for at least the next month.
Starting tomorrow on October 30th, France will enter another nationwide lockdown, as announced by President Emmanuel Macron.
France has seen an out of control flood of cases over the past few weeks, reporting as high as 50,000 new cases per day, provoking further restrictions and regulations to be put into place.
The new lockdown will differ slightly from the what the nation saw in the spring, as factories and schools are expected to remain open. However, residents are asked to remain inside their homes, with the exception of getting essential supplies or for daily outdoor exercise, limited to 1-hour.
Most non-essential business will also close, including restaurants and bars. All businesses are being asked to keep their employees working from home if possible, and when not possible, workers will have to fill out forms when heading to work to show proof of essential movement.
Spain has initiated a state of emergency that is set to last until May 2021, which gives local authorities the power in their own regions to restrict travel and/or impose curfews, depending on case levels.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made the announcement that the state of emergency will come into effect on November 1st, and will also include a nation-wide curfew from 11pm to 6am, except in the Canary Islands.
Since each region is free to set their own restrictions, some areas of Spain might have stricter curfew hours, increased limits on gatherings, and further regulations for freedom of movement.
Italy is seeing many of the same new restrictions as the rest of Europe, but not quite as strict as France or Germany.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on October 26 that bars and restaurants can still remain open for the time being, but they must close early, by 6pm.
Facilities like gyms, pools, cinemas and other related businesses will be forced to close down for at least the next month.
Certain regions of Italy have reinstated curfews, prompting protests and anger from quarantine-fatigued residents.
Belgium has also decided to close bars and restaurants for the next 4 weeks, but also to impose a nightly curfew on citizens. An uproar is happening from unhappy residents, calling Belgium's coronavirus curfews ‘unconstitutional', reminding the government the last time a national curfew was imposed was during WWII by Nazi occupiers.
Other measures to curb the spread of the virus include no alcohol sales after 8pm, closure of gyms, spas, pools and museums and limiting residents to only be permitted to see one other person from outside their household.
Belgium's cases have been as high as 16,000 per day in recent weeks.
While the UK’s travel corridor list keeps shrinking by the week, no other major restrictions have been put into place, drawing lots of criticism towards how the government is handling the second wave swell.
The Guardian reported Boris Johnson “is hurtling towards an unwanted choice between imposing a Christmas lockdown and permitting a Christmas viral explosion in the population.”
The UK has seen the highest death rate in all of the EU, but has yet to impose any stricter border controls, essentially allowing passengers from high-risk countries to enter with just a promise they will quarantine for 14 days, which reportedly is not happening.
Recent changes to the UK's quarantine list: Cyrpus and Lithuania now require a 14-day quarantine, effective Nov 1
Last week the Czech Republic re-closed its borders, restricting all international tourism and prompting further lockdowns. The border closure announcement was made by the government of the Czech Republic on the 22nd of October, just after the country recorded an all-time high of 15,000 cases in a 24-hour period.
The ban on tourism will come into effect on October 22 and remain until at least November 3, where it will be reviewed again for a potential extension.
Czech is the 3rd European nation to re-close borders, following Ukraine and Hungary
A nationwide curfew has also been enacted for the Czech Republic, limiting movement between 9pm and 6am.
Removal of entry for Canada from many EU nations
Last week, Canada was officially removed from the EU’s safe list, prompting many EU nations to change their border rules regarding entry for Canadian tourists. Only around half of the EU nations have already responded, effectively removing entry for Canadians. The other half have not yet responded or have kept Canada on for the time being.
The EU nations that have already removed entry for Canadians include:
- Germany as of Oct 27
- Netherlands as of Oct 27
- Estonia as of Oct 26
- Denmark as of Oct 25
- Belgium as of Oct 24
- Portugal as of Oct 31
- Latvia as of Oct 24
- Greece as of Oct 25
- Czech Republic as of Oct 22
- Italy as of ‘soon’, but no exact date yet given
Other EU nations, like Spain and France to name a few, are also expected to follow suit, but have not yet made a formal announcement.
With cases continuing to spiral out of control across all of Europe, more updates and restrictions are expected to be released throughout November.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories