Those looking to pack their bags for a long weekend or a trip away may have set their sights on somewhere a little closer to home this year.
Somewhere that, just like Belgium, is possibly facing an increase in daily coronavirus infections and a change in measures imposed to slow the spread of the virus.
While a daunting prospect, this shouldn’t necessarily mean trips will be cancelled thanks to the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate, which aims to facilitate travel between member states during the pandemic.
The good news is that the certificate in part prevents travel restrictions from being imposed, the bad news is that countries can still implement national restrictions which will apply upon arrival.
So, from refusing unvaccinated people entry to French restaurants to going back on the opening of clubs in the Netherlands, what measures have been imposed recently?
The number of coronavirus infections in France has risen in recent days, with 4,256 new cases reported on Sunday. Meanwhile, just over 40% of all people living in France have been fully vaccinated. From 15 September, vaccination will be made compulsory for all care workers.
As of 21 July, going to the cinema, theatre, museum, theme park or a cultural centre will require a coronavirus health pass, which proves that a person has been vaccinated or has undergone a recent negative PCR test. From August, the same measure will be put in place to enter a restaurant, café, shopping centre, hospital or to take a long-distance train.
When it comes to travel, France is still coloured green on the European Centre for Disease Control’s (ECDC) travel map, which means that EU citizens with a Covid certificate can travel here without having to quarantine upon return.
In the last week, over 8,500 new coronavirus infections were detected in the Netherlands, more than double the number in the previous week. Around 38.8% of the total population has been fully vaccinated.
Last Friday, the Dutch government decided that from Saturday 10 July until 13 August, all businesses in the hospitality industry have to close between midnight and 6:00 AM and that all nightclubs have to shut again. Meanwhile, a negative coronavirus test result to access certain places will only be valid for 24 hours instead of 40 hours.
Most of the Netherlands is coloured orange on the EU’s travel map, which means that quarantining or additional coronavirus tests will not be required for travellers from Belgium anymore, however, travel is discouraged to the Netherlands.
During the weekend, the number of new daily coronavirus infections increased to just over 3,200 in Portugal, however, this figure has since dropped to below 2,000. Around 38% of all people have been fully vaccinated.
As of 10 July, Portugal’s government imposed a new measure stating that a Covid certificate is necessary to enter a restaurant in the most high-risk areas or a hotel in any region. Restaurants in high-risk areas also have to close earlier, at 10:30 PM.
Bar the Azores islands, which are coloured orange on the ECDC’s map, all of mainland Portugal is a red area, meaning people who do not have a vaccination or recovery certificate have to be tested immediately upon their return to Belgium, and can only leave quarantine if the test is negative.
Spain reported almost 40,000 new cases on Monday, whilst the 14-day infection rate increased by 274%. Around 45% of the Spanish population has been fully vaccinated.
Due to the strong increase in cases, several regions decided to take new measurements. Valencia has imposed curfews in several towns and cities, as well as banning gatherings with more than ten people. Catalonia announced the same ban on gatherings and imposed a closing time of 12:30 AM on bars and restaurants.
Spain is also mainly coloured red on the ECDC’s map, meaning restrictions will be imposed for travellers without a certificate. People travelling from Brussels need to show a Covid certificate upon entering the country, as the region is considered high-risk for Spain, however people from Flanders and Wallonia don’t.
Covid cases in Greece have risen strongly since the start of July, and 2,063 new cases were reported on Monday. About 41% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated.
From Friday, only people who are fully vaccinated will be allowed indoors in bars, cinemas, theatres and other closed spaces.
Travellers from Belgium need to show a Covid certificate upon arrival. Greece is mostly green on the travel map, except for a few orange zones, meaning no quarantine or test is needed upon return.
On Monday, around 1,300 new cases were reported in Italy, whilst the number of deaths has doubled since last week. Just over 38% of the total population in Italy has been fully vaccinated.
The Italian government is reviewing whether new measures should be imposed, and is considering only making Covid certificates available for fully vaccinated people. It is also looking at compulsory five-day quarantines for those arriving from high-risk countries such as Spain and Portugal.
Italy is completely green on the ECDC’s map, meaning travel to and from the country is possible without further restrictions for those carrying a Covid certificate.
Germany is experiencing a slightly slower increase in new infections, as it reported 646 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, up from 440 a week ago. Around 43% of all people in Germany have been fully vaccinated.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said the current measures will be kept in place until more people have been fully vaccinated, however, there is no sign that existing restrictions will be tightened.
People travelling from Belgium have to show their Covid certificate upon arrival in Germany, but do not have to quarantine or carry out additional testing.
What will Belgium do?
In Belgium, the average number of daily coronavirus cases increased rapidly in the last two weeks, from around 300 two weeks ago to almost 1,000 per day this week. Meanwhile, just over 43% of all people living in Belgium has been fully vaccinated.
On Friday 16 July, Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet again to discuss the epidemiological situation, as well as the next step of the relaxations in Belgium’s “summer plan,” that was planned to take effect on 1 August.
Lauren Walker and Jilke Tielemans