With the increase in vaccination rates in most countries of the European Union and the Schengen area, it has been seen that it is necessary to put in place certain regulations that will distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated people when attending different public areas.
As such, in order to protect public health and avoid further spread of the virus, the majority of EU/Schengen area countries require citizens and travelers to provide proof of vaccination or recovery from the virus.
COVID-19 tests are also accepted, but since in most cases they are no longer taken for health screening purposes, many countries have decided to amend their free testing regulations, TheSchengen.com reports.
This means that unlike in the early stages of the pandemic, everyone is now required to pay for their tests as everyone has had the opportunity to get vaccinated so far.
Germany no longer offers free COVID-19 tests
Germany is one of the countries that changed its testing rules recently. During the second week of October, German authorities announced that the country’s citizens would no longer be able to take advantage of the free tests.
In line with the new rules, since October 11, all German citizens who have not been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 will have to cover the price of the test.
According to the German authorities, the citizens of the country had enough time to be vaccinated. For this reason, they believe it is unacceptable to use taxpayer money to cover the costs of coronavirus testing.
These new rules, which mainly affect unvaccinated people, aim to increase vaccination rates within the country.
The price of antigen tests in Germany ranges from 12 euros to 50 euros, while the cost of PCR tests varies between 45 and 120 euros.
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Despite the fact that the state has instituted new rules, it has been noted that children under the age of 12 will continue to benefit from the free tests.
In addition, those who cannot get the vaccination for health reasons will not be required to pay for their tests. Pregnant women and teens will also be able to take advantage of the free tests until the end of the year as the government has set a deadline for vaccinations of December 31.
Since late August, Germany has imposed a so-called “third generation rule”, which allows people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested to enter bars, restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, theatres, museums, gyms, swimming pools, sporting events, air travel, and hospitals, among other things.
Switzerland charges fees for COVID-19 tests
Similar to Germany, Swiss authorities announced last week that since October 11, the country will no longer offer free COVID-19 tests to those who have not been immunized or have recovered from the disease.
Thus, unvaccinated people who wish to undergo a coronavirus test now have to pay for the test themselves.
Based on a press release from the Swiss Federal Council, such a decision was made since the number of people being tested has increased dramatically over the past two months, while vaccination rates remain low.
However, it has been noted that although the state no longer offers free tests, certain exceptions will apply.
People who show symptoms related to the coronavirus will continue to pay for their own tests. Moreover, the tests also remain free for people who are unable to be vaccinated due to health problems and children under 16 years of age.
Those who only received one dose of the vaccine can still benefit from a free COVID-19 test until the end of November, when Swiss authorities want to ensure everyone has time to decide whether they want to get the vaccine.
Switzerland has already made the COVID-19 passport mandatory for everyone, including tourists, who wish to be allowed into certain inland areas, such as restaurants, bars, theatres, museums, concerts and many other places.
The price of tests in Switzerland varies depending on the type of test and where the test is taken. The cost of rapid antigen tests ranges from 45 francs (41 euros) to 80 francs (74 euros), while the cost of PCR tests ranges from 160 francs (149 euros) to 180 francs (167 euros).
France ends free coronavirus tests
Similar to other EU/Schengen area countries, French authorities confirmed last week that since October 15 health insurance will no longer cover rapid antigen tests and PCR tests performed for non-medical reasons.
This means that all people who want to take the so-called ‘comfort test’, which is done primarily by those who don’t show any symptoms, are now being held accountable.
However, easy access to the test will still be available to people who show symptoms, those who have been in contact with an infected person, as well as those who need to be tested for other medical purposes.
Children under the age of 18 who do not hold an identity document and those who have a prescription can also take the test for free.
The price of an antigen test in France is about 25 euros while a PCR test costs about 45 euros.
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Other countries that no longer offer free coronavirus tests
Italy, Greece and Belgium are just some of the other countries that no longer offer free coronavirus tests to people who have decided not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as well as those who have not recovered from the disease.
Similar to other countries, these four countries now offer free tests only to people who cannot get the vaccination due to health problems, minors, as well as to other people who fall under the exemption list.
It is highly recommended that before traveling abroad, each person checks the entry restrictions in the destination country, including testing requirements, to avoid any inconvenience.