As the highly mutated variant of Omicron continues to spread around the world, several countries in the European Union have reinstated border controls and restrictions due to the growing fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, also then that Europe was becoming the epicenter of the virus. The bloc has introduced new COVID-19 emergency measures with regard to travel, and to facilitate the crossing of the borders of several European countries, one must be provided with an approved digital COVID certificate, either be fully vaccinated, have a negative diagnosis for the virus or have recovered from an infection.
The EU largely has a traffic light system mechanism which adapts to the changing epidemiological situation around the world. The system operates in three colors – red, orange and green which denote high, medium and low risk regions across the block. Every two weeks, EU member states review and, where appropriate, update the list of third countries from which non-essential travelers should be allowed. As of December 6, the list is as follows:
- China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity)
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
Meanwhile, in response to the emergence of the new ‘Omicron’ COVID-19 variant, EU countries have decided to adopt an urgent temporary restriction on all travel to the EU from the following countries:
- South Africa
Rules for Germany
Travelers entering Germany from non-high-risk countries are required to produce a negative test for COVID-19, proof of vaccination or medical documents proving recovery from COVID-19. Although the WHO recently updated the aspect of Omicron re-infection, this advisory is subject to change and the official government website should be visited for the latest updates. Travelers entering Germany from high-risk and dangerous countries where the Omicron variant has spread are required to meet additional criteria, including a 10-day quarantine, but may stop self-isolating if a COVID-19 report negative is produced on day 5.
Countries in South Africa, Zimbabwe have been designated as virus variant zones and only German citizens and people with German residence permits are allowed to enter, according to reports. Other than that, the UK and parts of Ireland, Greece, much of Austria, Croatia, and Ukraine are considered high risk countries. If someone enters Germany with a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report and unvaccinated status, they should note that unvaccinated people are prohibited from entering most non-essential businesses, including bars, cafes and restaurants.
Rules for France
Proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test result is required when traveling to France. Everyone is required to complete a registration form pledging to be free from symptoms of COVID-19 and not to be sick. Given the spread of Omicron, as of December 4, all tourists who are fully vaccinated or arriving outside the EU are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours, reports have confirmed. Unvaccinated travelers arriving in France from green list countries must present a negative PCR or antigen test, or proof of recovery from COVID-19.
The countries on the green list are all EU states, Andorra, Canada, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland. Updates should be checked regularly as this information is subject to change as countries around the world discover more and more cases. France has placed Brazil, Cuba, Mozambique, South Africa, Pakistan and Russia on the “red list”, but those who enter for important emergency purposes must necessarily isolate themselves and take action. quarantine for 10 days. Unvaccinated travelers could face problems as COVID-19 testing is not free in France, according to DW.
Rules for Italy
A COVID-19 state of emergency is in place in Italy until December as the European country battles an upsurge in COVID-19 cases. People arriving from the EU or the Schengen area must be provided with a passenger tracking form, proof of a full vaccination, a recovery from COVID-19 or a negative PCR or antigen test carried out in the last 48 hours. In Italy, the regions are divided according to the risk of the spread of COVID-19 into white, yellow, orange and red. All regions except Friuli Venezia Giulia fall under the low risk white category where travelers can move freely, Friuli Venezia Giulia to the north is classified as yellow. Visits to risk areas at restaurants and bars, sporting events, museums, theaters, swimming pools, gymnasiums, spas, festivals, fairs and amusement parks are only permitted for fully vaccinated people, according to a DW report.
Rules for Spain
Since the end of October, cases of COVID-19 have been on the increase in Spain, particularly in northern Spain. Travelers are required to complete a health form before entering Spain. When entering from an EU country, it should be noted that Spain considers most European countries, including Germany, Sweden and France, to be areas at high risk of infection. All travelers must produce a full vaccination certificate, proof of recovery from COVID-19, or a negative PCR or antigen test. Spain closed its borders to unvaccinated arrivals from the UK as of December.
Rules in Greece
Only citizens of European Union and Schengen area countries can visit Greece for tourism purposes with proof of vaccination, negative test result or recovery from COVID-19. Other countries are not allowed to enter for tourism except for important purposes only. Authorities will verify a completed pre-arrival digital passenger locator form that generates a QR code that will be inspected at the border. A penalty will be imposed for entering Greece without the QR code. People who received the second COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days ago can enter, not before however.
Rules for entering Austria
Containment is in place until December 12 in Austria for all citizens, including those vaccinated. No travel for tourist purposes is currently possible. Citizens of the European Union can enter as an exemption by producing proof of full vaccination, past infection or a PCR test. All travel from South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Suriname is prohibited. All tourist facilities such as hotels, resorts, etc. are closed.
Rules for Croatia
This European country is considered a high-risk area by Germany, but allows travelers from EU and Schengen area countries with a digital EU COVID certificate, negative rapid PCR or antigen test result , certificate as proof of two EU-approved vaccine doses received, or COVID-19 medical documents, and having at least one vaccine injection. All children under the age of twelve are allowed to enter without any rules. DW reports that travelers to Croatia are requested to provide their contact details and location to the relevant authorities. A 14 day quarantine is required for arrivals from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Hong Kong. Citizens of third countries can only enter for important purposes, on an exceptional basis.