When the World Health Organization described January, it said it was going to be “a tough one…It really is all hands on deck.” This is evident from the picture in mid January across Europe and the U.K.:
The EU uses a traffic light map from the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) as a guideline to the high risk countries (in red) from which travel should be limited–there are no longer any green (safe) countries across Europe, with the exception of one corner of Greece.
The restrictions put in place across Europe in November and December appear to have slowed the virus, and the U.S. overtook the EU in number of recorded cases. The World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 dashboard has 30 million recorded cases in Europe and 40 million in the Americas. That said, many countries are suffering from huge rises in infection rates—likely a fallout from Christmas and New Year social mixing.
Many EU countries have tried to avoid placing residents back into a full lockdown but it hasn’t been entirely possible. As reported by The Local, the U.K., Ireland, Denmark and Italy have been forced to, and Sweden and Germany have stricter measures in place than in the first wave in March 2020.
Many countries closed their borders in January or at the very least, restricted access to fewer travelers. Most countries now require proof of a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival and some require a quarantine too.
Many countries have banned U.K. travelers, to try to limit the reach of the new Covid-19 variant identified in England. What’s more, with Brexit terms negotiated, the U.K. now falls under a third party country and is disallowed unlimited entry into the EU in the same way as before.
This country-by-country guide shows the different measures put in place by EU countries to try to curb alarming rises in infection and death rates. Many countries will review policies at the end of January, in line with the effectiveness too of vaccination efforts, which varies greatly from one country to the next.
There is a list of EU-approved, third-party countries which currently includes Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand, from which arrivals are also allowed. The same is true for China, assuming reciprocity occurs (i.e. that China accepts EU arrivals). On December 16 the EU decided to remove Uruguay from the list of safe countries because of its deteriorating epidemiological situation.
Austria—confirmed lockdown until 24 January
Despite a brief relaxation of the rules over Christmas and New Year, Austria has been in lockdown since November 3 and will stay so until January 24. Unlike many of its EU neighbours, ski resorts have been open since December 24 but operating under restrictions.
Only people arriving from Australia, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Uruguay, and the Vatican are allowed unrestricted access into the country. From January 15, other EU+ citizens (EU/EEA countries not on the list above, plus Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, the Vatican and the U.K.) entering Austria must register online for pre-travel clearance and carry the document with them upon arrival. They must then quarantine for 10 days. The can ‘test out’ of quarantine with a negative molecular biological or antigen test at the earliest from the 5th day after entry.
All access to third-party countries is not currently given with a few exceptions such as essential medical staff and key workers.
Belgium—text messages if quarantine necessary
Belgium has extended its Covid-19 travel restrictions where non-essential shops are closed and curfews are in place across many regions–euronews reported that Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said it was “too early” to relax the rules.
Belgium operates according to the ECDC’s traffic light system–anyone arriving from a red zone (which currently includes most of Europe) will have to go into quarantine for 10 days, but they can test-out on day seven with a negative result.
Non-essential travel to and from outside EU and Schengen countries remains prohibited and all passengers arriving in Belgium by air or sea must fill in a “Public Health Passenger Locator Form” 48 hours before arrival. Based on their answers, visitors will receive a test message if they are high risk and need to quarantine. If they do, they must take a Covid-19 test on days 1 and day 7. If visitors do not receive a text message, they do not need to quarantine.
Bulgaria—emergency health status until end of January
There is an emergency health status in place until the end of January 2021 but grocery stores and pharmacies remain open.
The list of countries able to arrive in Bulgaria without restrictions has been the same since July–they include the list of EU approved countries and EU member states.
Arrivals from Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, North Macedonia, Albania, Kuwait, Moldova, Israel and any other third country must have a negative Covid-19 test and sign a health declaration. U.S. visitors are not on the list of 46 allowed countries.
Croatia—borders now closed, lockdown extended
Croatia profited throughout the summer from being one of the only EU countries allowing U.S. travelers to enter but on January 13 2021 it closed its borders “prohibiting and restricting the crossing of persons across all border crossing points of the Republic of Croatia.”
One exception are travelers coming from the EU/Schengen area countries (regardless of citizenship). If they are arriving from a ‘green’ country, they are allowed to enter unrestricted so long as they have no symptoms of Covid-19. Any other EU/Schengen arrivals must present a negative PCR test result for SARS-CoV-2 that is not older than 48 hours (counting from the time of taking the swab to arriving at the border crossing point) or have the PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 done immediately upon arrival in the Republic of Croatia.
Third country nationals who are resident are also allowed in with a test but no other third party nationals can enter unless they fall under a very specific list of criteria, such as medical workers and seafarers.
Everyone must also fill in an online form to hand in at the border.
At the end of November, Croatia enacted stringent economic Covid-19 restrictions, which have been extended until the end of January. Bars, cafes, restaurants, gyms, sporting facilities, casinos, gaming arcades, fairs, and betting shops are closed. There are restrictions on working hours and gatherings–with no more than 25 people at public events and no more than 10 at private gatherings and ceremonies.
Cyprus—under curfew, SMS necessary to leave house
At its borders, Cyprus has three categories (A, B, and C) based on a country’s epidemiological situation, and updates the list to announce who can enter and how. Every passenger must fill in a Cyprus Health Pass upon arrival.
There are currently only 7 countries on list A, the most epidemiologically sound, where no restrictions are in place: Australia, Cyprus, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.
List B–passengers coming from these countries can ask for a Covid-19 test upon arrival, for a fee of €60 ($73) and enter quarantine until they have a negative result: China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Holy See (Vatican City State), Hong Kong, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Rwanda, San Marino, Serbia, Sweden and Uruguay.
All other countries are in category C, and people can only enter if they are Cypriot residents or cleared under the Vienna Convention. (This has changed from December, where Category C countries were allowed to enter with a negative Covid-19 test).
Cyprus is currently under curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., which will last until January 31. People are currently allowed to leave their homes twice per day and must send an SMS to 8998 (people over 65 can use a printed form). Exceptions are made for dog-walking, taking children to school, and employment. Church gatherings are prohibited and shops must serve vulnerable individuals first, before 9am.
Czech Republic—only green list countries can enter
Since November 9, arrivals have been grouped into red, yellow, and green categories, with red being the most at risk as per the ECDC’s traffic light system.
However, the country is only currently open to travelers arriving from a low risk or green area and are subject to a medical examination.
The government has extended the state of emergency until January 22, 2021, which involves the restriction of free movement and retail sales.
Denmark—national lockdown and travel banned
Denmark is in a national lockdown until February 7, 2021. This means that only five people can gather together, non-essential shops are services are closed, restaurants can only offer takeaway meals and schools and work should be conducted online.
The government announced that the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 is currently spreading and is more transmissable. All foreign travel is ill-advised and the border is effectively closed for all arrivals until at least January 17, except for essential travel. Any arriving foreign nationals must be in possession of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours and must fall under the list of essential travelers.
There is a list of ‘worthy reasons for travel’ whereupon access will be granted, which includes assisting in the birth of your child, caregiving, or if someone is dying. It is not considered worthy if you are visiting a spouse, have a job interview or need to attend a business meeting. Danish nationals and residents are an obvious exception.
Estonia—still open to EU+ nationals
Estonia’s borders are open to arrivals from the seven countries which are considered to have low infection rates if they are showing no symptoms of Covid-19: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand and Singapore.
EU citizens plus Schengen nationals, as well as visitors from the U.K., Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican can visit if they do not have symptoms.
Arrivals from other countries not mentioned on this list must go into a 14-day quarantine and take a Covid-19 test.
Finland—restrictions extended to February
Restrictions for entry into Finland were extended on January 11 until February–travelers arriving from all EU and Schengen countries will be allowed in (even with high rates) but they must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken in the 72 hours prior to arrival. They will then have to quarantine for 72 hours until a second negative test, which will give them the freedom to travel Finland without restrictions.
Since the departure of the U.K. from Europe on December 31, it is now considered a third country and subject to third country restrictions.
Finland currently has internal restrictions on operating hours for some businesses, restaurants and bars and home working is encouraged at all times; these will stay in place until February 28, 2021. The government is recommending remote working until at least June 30.
France—under nationwide 6pm curfew
Residents can move about freely during the day, although remote working is advised, and must be at home between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. There are situations where people can leave the house during curfew but they must have an attestation, a form filled in and signed by an employer, for instance. Shops and schools are open but cafes, restaurants, gyms, cinemas and theatres are closed.
Prime minister Jean Castex announced Thursday that “we are going to strengthen border control. As of Monday (January 18), all travellers coming to France from outside the European Union will have to take a test before leaving.” All passengers arriving in France from outside EU countries must have evidence of a negative Covid-19 test, taken not less than 72 hours before departure and they must quarantine for 7 days regardless. Since Brexit, this also now includes the U.K.
Germany—in lockdown and borders open to EU only
Germany is in lockdown, closing non-essential shops limiting social gatherings to one other household or a maximum number of five people over the age of 14.
Currently, entry is possible for EU members, Schengen states and the countries approved by the EU with low infection rates: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. Journeys must be approved the German border police.
Entry from other countries is only possible at present for urgent reasons.
Greece—extended lockdown but stores to open
Greece has extended its nationwide lockdown indefinitely, and AP reported that stores and malls will reopen Monday January 18 with strict controls. Primary schools and kindergartens have reopened but high schools are operating remotely. There is a nighttime curfew in place and regional stay-at-home orders.
Greece’s border is open to Schengen nationals and all arrivals must fill in a Passenger Locator Form and have proof of a negative PCR test. Until January 21, everyone must self-isolate for 7 days upon arrival.
In order to pass through land borders (a certain number of people, such as truck drivers, are allowed to), people must have proof of a negative PCR test, not older than 72 hours.
Hungary—borders still closed, even to EU nationals
There is still a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and all public events are banned and family and private gatherings are capped at 10 people.
The country had opened its borders without restrictions to citizens of the EU, the European Economic Area (excluding the U.K.) and Switzerland on June 21. However, it closed its borders on September 1 to all foreign nationals, after spiking rates of infection–and this order still stands.
Iceland—two tests instead of quarantine
Iceland is currently operating a policy of double screening, which has now been extended until February 2021. International arrivals must take two tests; one when they arrive and one after 5 or 6 days of quarantine, after which they are free to travel without restrictions around the country if they are negative. It is no longer possible to avoid testing by going into a 14-day quarantine.
There are no entry restrictions for visitors holding passports (or valid residency) from EU/EFTA countries and this no longer includes the U.K.
Iceland is offering free-of-charge Covid-19 tests for travelers between December 1 and January 31 and after December 10, anyone who can show proof that they have already had Covid-19 will be exempt from measures at the border.
Ireland—back in lockdown under tier 5
The country is currently under a national lockdown. Under the government’s ‘Plan for living with COVID-19′ there are five tiers of restrictions and Ireland is currently under tier 5, the highest level of restrictions. This means that everyone who can, must stay at home and exercise within 5 km of the house. Schools are closed until February 1 and only essential retail is open.
Ireland is using the ECDC’s traffic light map of travel restrictions, meaning it adheres to the same guidelines as most other EU countries. Passengers from green regions are not required to restrict their movements for 14 days on arrival but passengers arriving from an orange, red or gray region are requested to restrict their movements for 14 days.
All arrivals into Ireland must complete a Passenger Locator Form and be in possession of a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours before departure. Arrivals from South Africa, South American countries or the U.K. must self-isolate for 14 days.
Italy—lockdown in place and U.K. arrivals banned
Italy is currently in lockdown; people must not travel within their own towns, between towns, or between regions without a valid reason. Bars and restaurants are closed, as well as all businesses except food stores, pharmacies, news agents, laundrettes and hairdressers. There is a curfew in place from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The state of emergency has been extended until the end of April.
All arriving passengers from the EU and Schengen area must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within the past 48 hours. If they cannot do so, they must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period. U.K. arrivals are currently banned and for the rest of the world, travelers can only enter from the seven agreed safe countries; Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Rwanda, Singapore and Thailand.
Latvia—state of emergency extended to February
Anyone arriving from an EU country where the 14-day cumulative indicator is higher than 50, must go into a 10-day quarantine, which currently affects most EU countries plus the U.K., as per ECDC recommendations. Since October 12, all arrivals must fill in an electronic form 48 hours before arriving in the country and all arrivals must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test from January 15 onwards.
There is currently a state of emergency in place until February 7 and only essential shops are open. Public gatherings are banned and households are not allowed to mix.
Lithuania—lockdown extended until January 31
On November 7 , the country went into a three-week lockdown and this has been extended until January 31. The government statement reads “some businesses will have to halt or reduce their operations, tighter infection control measures will be enforced, and work and education will be arranged with a minimum of contacts.”
As of October 26, the country has been following the ECDC traffic light map for allowing access. Lithuania is allowing access from EEA countries but those countries which are red or gray are subject to the requirement of testing for Covid-19 or a 10-day isolation.
Luxembourg—under 11pm curfew
Luxembourg has not restricted its border from other European visitors (negative Covid-19 tests are not needed), although travel from outside Europe is banned until March 31. It is also allowing visitors from the countries recommended by the EU.
Since October 30, it has had an 11pm curfew in place. Other measures are in place, such as limiting visitors to households to two people and restaurants, bars, cafes and gyms are closed. Cultural places are opening carefully from January 11 under strict sanitary conditions.
Malta—using traffic light system
Travelers arriving from countries on the green list don’t have any restrictions: Australia, China, Denmark, Finland, France (Ile-de-France), Germany (Baden-Wurttemberg), Greece (Attiki), Iceland, Italy (Sicily and Sardinia), New Zealand, Norway, Portugal (Madeira, Azores), Rwanda, South Korea, Spain (Canarias), and the United Arab Emirates.
Other countries are on an ‘amber list’ where visitors need to show negative Covid-19 tests taken within 72 hours prior to boarding flights to Malta. As of January 17, amber list countries are: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France (all airports except Ile-de-France), Germany (all airports except Baden-Wurttemberg), Greece (all airport except Attiki), Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy (all airports except Sicily and Sardegna), Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (all airports except Madeira, Azores), Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (all airports except Canarias), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, and Vatican City.
All other countries are on the red list and arrivals from these must have spent at least the 14 days prior in a safe corridor country before reaching Malta. It is also recommended that they take a PCR test 72 hours before they arrive. Malta has suspended flights to and from the U.K.
The Netherlands—lockdown extended
The Netherlands has extended its lockdown to January 19, which means no more than two guests a day at home, and restaurants, cafés and bars will remain closed. Everyone should work from home and all non-essential travel to other countries should be avoided. Childcare facilities and all schools, colleges and universities are closed except for the children of key workers.
The government is strongly advising that no one travels to the Netherlands but all arrivals must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test and should quarantine for 10 days.
Travel is allowed for nationals or residents of EU and Schengen countries and the EU-wide safe list, namely, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand.
Norway—opening up after 19 January
Norway implemented the requirement of negative PCR tests for anyone coming from a Covid-19 high-risk country, as designated red by the ECDC map, taken 72 hours before departure. Quarantine is currently 10 days for anyone arriving from other than a yellow ECDC country. All travelers must take a free Covid-19 test upon arrival.
Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg announced new stay-at-home measures to reduce social contact as much as possible and businesses are operating under tight restrictions. From January 19, the country will start to open up a little more.
Poland—in a three-week lockdown
Poland is in a three-week strict lockdown, with the closure of non-essential shops and all arrivals from abroad required to isolate for 10 days. Public gatherings are limited to five people. Borders are open for EU and EFTA nationals.
Portugal—lockdown until January 30
EU and Schengen area arrivals are allowed to visit, as are the EU-mandated countries. Everyone over the age of 2 must arrive with proof of a negative Covid-19 test and will be subject to airport screening.
Portugal is under lockdown until January 30 where people are confined to their homes and most things are closed.
Romania—nighttime curfew and 14-day quarantine
The country is under a nighttime curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and all stores must close at 9pm. Restaurants and bars are closed in areas that have high infection rates. Social gatherings of more than 8 people are ill-advised.
People coming from the following countries must quarantine for 14 days: Andorra, Aruba, Austria, Belarus, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, French Polynesia, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Namibia, The Netherlands, Northern Macedonia, Palestine, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic of Moldova, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, St Martin, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Turks & Caicos, and the U.S.
Slovakia—no quarantine for EU arrivals
Slovakia is allowing businesses to operate under strict conditions–a takeaway-only service for restaurants, public places are closed and the over-65s have dedicated opening times to shop for groceries (9 to 11 a.m., Monday to Friday).
People arriving from low-risk countries (Australia, China, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan) can enter unimpeded. All other arrivals from EU areas must arrive with proof of a negative Covid-19 test but won’t need to quarantine. All arrivals from other countries, including the U.K. must quarantine and take a second PCR test.
Slovenia—most EU countries now on red list
Many countries around the world are now on the red list, including most of the EU, where arrivals must possess a negative Covid-19 PCR test or quarantine for ten days.
Restrictions are in place across the country until January 22 with many non-essential shops and services closed.
Spain—implementing regional lockdowns
Spain is under a state of emergency with regional variations in restrictions. The Guardian reported that Catalonia is the most strict, with only essential shops open at the weekends and most people barred from leaving the municipality. Bars and restaurants can open for breakfast and lunch but must be closed for dinner, except for takeout. Madrid has decided to keep restaurants and all shops open, closing down districts with high infection rates.
Only arrivals from the Schengen area or EU approved non-member states are allowed to enter and arrivals from high-risk areas will need to present the negative results of a Covid-19 test, upon arrival. The high risk list includes: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark (except Faroe and Greenland), Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, France (except Brittany and Corsica), Greece (except the regions of Attiki, Dytiki Ellada, Peloponnisos, Sterea Ellada, Voreio Aigao, Ionia Nisia, Ipeiros, Kriti and Notio Aigaio), Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway (except Innlandet, More og Romsdal, Rogaland, Trøndelag, Troms og Finnmark, Vestfold og Telemark, Vestland Agder and Nordland), Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (except the Azores islands), Romania, and Sweden.
U.K. travelers are currently banned from entering Spain.
Sweden—travel curbed until January 31
Much of the economy remains open with hygiene measures in place. The Guardian reported that bars and restaurants cannot serve alcohol after 8 p.m., groups in restaurants are limited to four, over-16 education is now back online; and many non-essential public services such as swimming pools and libraries have been shut.
Sweden has a ban on all non-essential travel from outside the EU/EEA area, currently until March 31. Travel between the U.K. and Sweden is banned until January 21.
Switzerland—quarantine even with negative tests
Switzerland’s regions are responsible for implementing local lockdowns as appropriate and many have implemented procedures, such as limiting gatherings. Masks in enclosed public spaces are mandatory.
Anyone arriving from a high-risk country must go into quarantine or face a fine and crucially, a negative PCR test does not exempt travelers.
This list currently includes everyone outside the Schengen countries with the exception of Andorra, Australia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Holy See, Ireland, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Romania, Rwanda, San Marino, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Uruguay.
Arrivals from South Africa and the U.K. must go into quarantine for ten days.
U.K.–national lockdown, travel corridors suspended
Britons are currently allowed to travel through a “travel corridor” system, where countries are put on safe lists, meaning that travelers do not need to quarantine upon their return. However, the U.K. has temporarily suspended all travel corridors meaning that all arrivals must quarantine for 10 days, as of 4 a.m. January 18. All arrivals must complete a travel locator form and Wales and Scotland have followed similar rules for entry.
Due to the discovery of the new variant of Covid-19 identified in the U.K., many countries have currently banned arrivals from the U.K.
Anyone now arriving in the U.K. will also need to have proof of a negative Covid-19 test, taken not more than 72 hours before departure.
The U.K. is currently in a seven-week lockdown with the closure of non-essential services.