The Netherlands announced the removal of an impossible requirement for transiting passengers to provide proof of two negative covid tests, one being a 4-hour antigen test.
Starting March 16, 2021 passengers in transit through AMS airport will only have to show proof of a negative PCR test, taken no longer than 72 hours prior to arrival. LAMP, NAAT, RT-PCR, and TMA tests are also allowed.
While travelers from high-risk and non-EU countries are still banned from entering the Netherlands, some passengers can still transit through Amsterdam airport, providing they remain airside and do not need to pass through customs.
On January 20th, the government of the Netherlands took extreme measures to curb the spread of new variants. Rules included banning flights from 17 countries and adding a double-testing requirement for all transiting passengers from high-risk nations.
Not only was proof of a negative 72-hour PCR test required, but also a rapid antigen test performed no later than 4 hours before the flight. The 4-hour timeframe created an incredibly challenging requirement to fulfill, essentially shutting down the potential for any passenger to transfer through the Netherlands.
AMS airport is the 3rd busiest airport in Europe and the 11th busiest worldwide, making it a very important transit hub for many, even during the pandemic. The 4-hour rapid test requirement plus the numerous flight bans caused KLM, the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands, to suspend most of its international routes.
Now with the removal of the 4-hour rapid test requirement starting March 16th, the airline may be able to resume some of the affected routes.
While the new transit rule is a small glimmer of progress, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced he will be extending the nation’s lockdown until at least April 1st. A nightly curfew remains in place until 9:00pm, many non-essential businesses remain closed, including restaurants.
Entry requirements into the Kingdom remain strict and are limited to fellow EU nations, as well as a small list of approved third-party nations including Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, and Thailand.
Testing is still required for arriving EU and Schengen nationals from all but one country, Iceland. As of March 16th, all passengers entering the Netherlands from the EU/Schengen zone will need to provide proof of a negative PCR test, performed no longer than 24 hours before their departing flight. In lieu of a 24-hour PCR test, they can also provide a combination of a 12-hour rapid test paired with a 72-hour PCR test.
Over the past few weeks, many EU nations including Greece, Spain, and Portugal have been quite vocal about their optimistic reopening plans for summer tourism, while the Netherlands has remained relatively quiet on the matter.
In 2019, over 20 million tourists visited the Netherlands. The nation saw a massive drop in tourism throughout 2020, up to 75% fewer visitors than forecasted, even with a relatively open summer season.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com