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Travel to the Netherlands during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

<i>Bas Czerwinski/AFP via Getty Images</i><br/>The Netherlands has since eased restrictions as it looks to return to normal life -- although the Dutch prime minister has apologized for easing restrictions too soon
Bas Czerwinski/AFP via Getty Images
The Netherlands has since eased restrictions as it looks to return to normal life -- although the Dutch prime minister has apologized for easing restrictions too soon

CNN staff

If you’re planning to travel to the Netherlands, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

The Netherlands introduced a strict lockdown in December 2020, following a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases. The country’s first night time curfew since World War II was brought in in January, leading to rioting in major cities. As of November 2021, a number of restrictions have been reintroduced due to rising cases, and a partial lockdown is currently in effect.

While restrictions were eased as the country looked to return to normal life, officials have since been forced to bring some of them back due to a rapid rise in cases.

What’s on offer

Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ biggest draw, with its picture-perfect canals, spectacular architecture and cafe culture. But beyond the capital there is much to love, from elegant administrative capital The Hague to the increasingly hip port of Rotterdam. Outdoor lovers won’t feel shortchanged either, with excellent cycling routes and water sports options on offer.

Who can go

European Union residents are allowed to enter the Netherlands for any reason, but there are different rules for those traveling from “safe” areas within the EU/Schengen area and those traveling from areas deemed high risk.

Travelers arriving from safe areas must fill in a health declaration before their arrival and take a Covid test once they’ve entered the Netherlands, while those coming from high risk areas must provide either proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from coronavirus or a negative Covid test result.

Visitors from other countries not deemed very high risk (with a variant of concern) can enter the Netherlands.

Currently, the following destinations outside the EU are considered “safe”: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Namibia, New Zealand, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay. A full list of safe countries, regularly updated, can be found on the Dutch government website.

From November 26, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa have been designated “very high risk” areas, and a ban has been placed on passenger flights from these destinations due to the discovery of the new Omicron variant.

Other destinations outside the EU considered as “very high risk” are: Afghanistan, Anguilla, Armenia, Barbados, Belize, Cayman Islands, Dominica, French Guiana, Georgia, Haiti, Mongolia, Montenegro, St. Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Singapore, Somalia, Suriname, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Venezuela.

Vaccinated travelers arriving from countries deemed as “very high risk” will need to provide proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test result before being permitted to travel to the Netherlands.

However, the country has reversed its decision to bring in a mandatory 10 day quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers from “very high risk” areas. From September 22, vaccinated visitors arriving “very high-risk” areas will be required to submit the results of a negative PCR or antigen test in order to visit, but will not need to go into quarantine.

Unvaccinated travelers from “very high risk” areas are currently subject to a 10 day quarantine requirement.

What are the restrictions?

Vaccinated travelers from “safe” countries within the EU do not need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter the Netherlands.

Those coming from “very high risk” countries must show the results of a negative PCR or antigen test (taken within 48 and 24 hours respectively if arriving by plane).

Travelers arriving from safe areas outside of the EU must provide proof of vaccination,or a negative PCR test result or antigen test taken within 48 hours (or collected within 24 hours for antigen tests).

Unvaccinated travelers from “very high risk” areas outside of the EU are require to quarantine for 10 days. Returning a further negative test on day five of quarantine means visitors from these countries can move around the country freely. You can make an appointment to get tested once you are in the Netherlands by calling 0800 1202.

All travelers must complete a health screening form, which can be downloaded here.

What’s the Covid situation?

Covid cases spiked in mid-July in the Netherlands, albeit from a low base, driven in part by the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant. Cases had been trending downwards, but have begun to rise again in recent months. As of December 2, there have been over 2.7 million cases in the country, with 150,119 in the past week. There have been 19,909 deaths from Covid. So far, just over 73% of the population is fully vaccinated.

What can visitors expect?

The Dutch government relaxed restrictions in June, before bringing some of them back on July 9, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologizing for having eased them too soon.

Nightclubs were closed again, while summer festivals were called off.

However, the rules were relaxed yet again on September 25. The 1.5 meters social distancing requirement was dropped at this point, while nightclubs were allowed to reopen.

Officials have since been forced to reintroduce some restrictions. As of November 6, masks are mandatory in indoor public spaces yet again. Residents are also being advised to work from home for at least half of the week where possible.

On November 12, officials announced a partial lockdown in a bid to bring down rising infection rates. These restrictions have since been tightened up due to the emergence of the new Omicron variant.

For at least three weeks, hospitality and cultural venues like cafes, museums, and cinemas must close by 5 p.m., as well as nonessential businesses such as hairdressers. Public venues must close between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.. Gatherings at home are also restricted to no more than four, while people are advised to work from home where possible.

The country has also introduced a coronavirus entry pass system, which is available to those who are fully vaccinated, or have valid proof of recovery or a negative result from a Covid-19 test taken less than 24 hours previously in order to gain entry into specific venues.

The list of places a coronavirus entry pass is required has been expanded to include restaurants, museums, cinemas and gyms.

Useful links

Government.nl

Quarantine Check

Quarantine Declaration

Health screening form

Our latest coverage

There’s a proud Dutch tradition of allowing visitors to peep into their homes, with locals leaving their blinds and curtains wide open after dark. (Great after a year spent staring at the same four walls). One other tradition has become less easy — marijuana access for tourists has been curbed.

Amsterdam streets that were once heaving with tourists are now far quieter, making it possible to see the city as it used to be. And there’s always the chance you can gawp at the super rich as they try to squeeze their massive yachts down those picturesque canals.

The-CNN-Wire
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Joe Minihane and Julia Buckley contributed to this report

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