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Europe Becomes Once Again the Epicentre of COVID-19 – What It Means for Travel

The number of coronavirus cases has risen again across the European Union and the countries of the Schengen area, despite high vaccination rates across the bloc.

In just the past 24 hours, WHO data shows Germany recorded 23,607 new cases, Hungary 21,060, France 12508, the Netherlands 12052 and Austria 11,227.

The number of deaths also rose, with Hungary recording the highest number of deaths in 24 hours, as a total of 304 patients died due to complications caused by the virus.

More restrictions as cases surge across Europe

Amid the rising cases, European Union member states have already begun imposing stricter restrictions on their citizens, as well as on travel from outside the country.

The Netherlands, for example, at the beginning of this month extended the requirement to present a COVID-19 passport to access certain places while recommitting to wearing masks in public places such as shops and libraries.

Dutch Prime Minister Rutte said during a nationally televised press conference at the time.

In Germany, on the other hand, many states have tightened restrictions, including Berlin, which announced last Monday that those fully vaccinated and recently recovered from COVID-19 can access restaurants, cinemas, museums and concert venues.

Parliament is set to vote on Thursday on a new legal framework for the coronavirus restrictions.

The Austrian government has taken even stricter measures, imposing a lockdown on two million non-immune citizens.

Announcing the move, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said: “We are not taking this step lightly, but unfortunately, it is necessary.”

This means that unvaccinated people, who have so far been banned from visiting restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas, are now being directed to stay at home until the government takes another decision.

Police will conduct checks, and unvaccinated people who do not respect the new rules will be fined.

Member states that impose stricter entry restrictions

Some member states have also tightened entry restrictions. Last week, France began requiring unvaccinated travelers from 16 countries in the European Union to submit COVID-19 tests taken within 24 hours before arriving in the country. Previously, travelers could submit tests taken within 72 hours.

These countries are Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Similarly, other countries in the European Union and the Schengen area have expanded their lists of unsafe countries, from which travelers are subject to additional entry requirements upon arrival.

Just last Friday, Germany added Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Laos to its high-risk list. Travelers from these countries must register at, while those who have not been vaccinated are required to be tested for COVID-19 and quarantine for ten days.

Spain has also added France and three regions of Italy – Basilicata, Lombardy and Piedmont – to its high-risk list, which currently consists of almost every EU country and the Schengen area.

Norway, a non-EU Schengen member, has also reduced the list of safe countries, leaving only Spain on the list.

Other EU countries that have imposed stricter restrictions in recent days:

Moreover, the majority of these countries have started providing third doses against COVID-19 to young people as well, in an effort to promote

What the growing number of cases in the EU means for incoming travelers

The growing number of cases across the old continent will prompt member states to impose more restrictions in the following weeks, particularly as the year-end holidays approach.

Travelers who have not been vaccinated against COVID, in particular, are advised to pay close attention to the changing rules, as they may sometimes be updated at short notice. They should always check the rules for testing, as well as the amount of time they will have to spend in quarantine so that they can better arrange their trip.

Non-vaccinated travelers should also note that at the moment they do not have access to bars, restaurants, nightclubs and museums in many countries in the European Union, such as in Austria, where vaccination or a recovery document is mandatory.

If cases increase further, and member states fail to address the situation with current measures, a lockdown will be imposed, particularly on unvaccinated travelers across the continent.

Last week, reported that the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), an EU health agency, advised against travel to the majority of EU countries due to the number of cases in these areas.

Based on data published by the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the countries with the most severe conditions are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Ireland, Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia.

However, EU countries have some of the highest vaccination rates in the bloc. According to ECDC, the cumulative uptake of full vaccination in the total EU/EEA population is 64.9 percent.

Portugal is the European country with the highest vaccination rate against the coronavirus, with 81.3 percent of the country’s population having been fully vaccinated. Other countries with high complete vaccination rates are also Ireland (75.9 percent), Iceland (76.5 percent), Denmark (75.7 percent), etc.

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