After assessing that COVID-19 restrictions have not stopped the spread of the virus and its variants, as well as after taking into account the increasing vaccination rates, several EU/Schengen area countries have announced that they will now implement less stringent rules.
Some of the countries that have scrapped testing requirements and that will implement relaxed rules are Sweden, Norway, Greece and the Czech Republic, among others, TheSchengen.com reports.
Sweden is among the first countries to announce that it will no longer apply entry rules to incoming travelers. The Swedish authorities announced that from today February 9, travelers from the EU/Schengen area will be able to enter the country without restrictions, regardless of vaccination or recovery status.
Such a decision, announced by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, means that travelers from the EU/Schengen area are no longer required to present an EU digital COVID certificate or other evidence of vaccination, recovery or negative test results upon arrival in Sweden.
Aside from easing entry rules for travelers, Sweden announced that on February 9, the majority of national COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted as well. On the other hand, the rules currently imposed against third countries will continue to be in place.
Norway has also relaxed its entry rules. Norwegian authorities announced earlier in January that the quarantine requirement would be scrapped as this measure was “no longer necessary for infection control”.
Travelers can now enter Norway without undergoing self-isolation rules even if they have not been vaccinated or recovered from the virus.
However, it has been emphasized that non-vaccinated and non-exempt travelers still need to be tested and to complete an entry form before arriving in Norway.
“Travelers still need to undergo testing and full entry registration upon arrival in Norway. The Norwegian Ministry of Health has indicated that the documentation requirement for a negative test taken prior to arrival still applies to people who cannot provide a COVID-19 certificate showing that they have received a full vaccination or They recovered from COVID-19.
In contrast, people who have recovered or have received all required doses of the vaccine do not need to follow additional rules when traveling to Norway.
Differently from the two countries mentioned above, Greece has only canceled the COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers with a valid EU COVID certificate.
The decision was announced by the Greek government and means that all those who hold one of the degrees recognized in Greece are no longer required to take a pre-entry test.
On the other hand, travelers who do not meet the entry criteria will still be subject to testing requirements, even if they have been vaccinated or recovered from the virus.
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Starting today, the Czech Republic will also apply relaxed rules for travelers as well as for citizens of the country. The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Fiala, said last week that from February 9, the requirement to submit a pass would be abolished.
This means that all people are now able to enter restaurants, bars, cultural events and other facilities without having to present a valid vaccination or certificate.
Regarding the remaining restrictions, the Czechs plan to remove them during the second half of this month.
While other countries were still assessing their COVID-19 case, Denmark lifted all COVID-19 restrictions earlier this month, thus becoming the first country to do so.
In line with new rules put in place by Denmark, travelers are no longer required to wear a mask or present one of the COVID-19 certifications to enter restaurants, bars and other indoor venues.
In addition, the requirement to quarantine people who have tested positive for the virus has also been abolished.
3 more countries are expected to lift some restrictions imposed on the Corona virus
While the above countries have already lifted some or all of their restrictions, other countries, such as France, Portugal and Switzerland, are still making an official statement regarding their announcements regarding COVID-19 rules.
France will soon abolish the test requirement. Minister of State for European Affairs, Clement Bonn, said the country’s authorities are expected to announce the lifting of the pre-entry test rule over the coming days.
The requirement to test on arrival in France is currently imposed on most travelers, with the exception of EU countries, including Andorra, Iceland, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and Vatican City State, provided they hold a valid vaccination certificate.
Portuguese authorities have also confirmed that the country will scrap the testing requirement for travelers who have been fully vaccinated.
Announcing the new rules that will soon take effect, the government said that travelers with a valid EU digital COVID certificate or other recognized proof of vaccination will not be required to submit a negative test taken prior to entry.
However, the government and other responsible authorities have not yet revealed when the new rules will come into effect.
Switzerland is also planning to relax its rules by scrapping the requirement for tourists to obtain a Swiss pass. Last week, Swiss authorities announced that travelers entering the country for travel or other purposes may not be required to convert their permits to the equivalent Swiss Card.
The Swiss authorities wrote that “Swiss COVID certificates” issued to tourists, for example, or after rapid antibody or antigen tests, would no longer be required.
However, this is only a suggestion and must be brought up for discussion and approval in order to be effective.