European nations are reimposing some COVID-19 measures in a bid to curb rising case numbers of the highly infectious Delta variant. France has tightened travel restrictions, Spain has reintroduced curfews in tourist hotspots, Greece is tightening entry restrictions to restaurants, bars and museums, and the Netherlands is reimposing curbs on restaurants and nightclubs.
The rapid spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 across Europe has led to an increase in coronavirus cases among unvaccinated people. In just a few weeks, this spike in infections has reversed the downward trend most European countries had been reporting since the end of spring, threatening to undo recent progress in the fight against the virus.
In an attempt to gain control of the spread, French president Emmanuel Macron imposed a raft of measures on Monday, including tightening border restrictions for unvaccinated travelers and those coming from high-risk countries, which now includes the UK according to France’s classification system.
On Twitter, France’s minister for European affairs Clément Beaune said that travelers coming from the UK who are not fully vaccinated can only enter France for essential travel and must present a negative COVID-19 test result within 24 hours of travel. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers coming from Spain and Portugal, which are on France and the EU’s green list for travel, must present a negative test taken within 24 hours of departure, but they are still free to enter France for non-essential reasons.
Parmi les pays 🟠, régime renforcé aussi pour le Royaume-Uni : pour les non vaccinés, un test de ➖ de 24 h est exigé au départ (en plus du motif impérieux) 🇬🇧🇫🇷 https://t.co/iWM86mn2NJ
— Clement Beaune (@CBeaune) July 12, 2021
France has also mandated the use of a COVID-19 pass for entry to bars, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theaters, museums, cultural attractions, theme parks, shopping centers and to board domestic flights or long-distance trains. The COVID-19 pass shows that a person has been fully vaccinated, is recovered or has recently tested negative for the virus. The pass is available for anyone over the age of 12 and should be introduced on July 21, according to Le Monde.
Meanwhile in Spain, as virus continues to gather pace again — particularly among young and unvaccinated people — the country is facing a fifth wave of the pandemic. In Catalonia, all businesses and activities have been ordered to close at 12.30am and the local government has capped social gatherings to 10 people. Social gatherings are now limited to 10 people in Valencia, and more than 30 towns within the region are under a night curfew. Spanish newspaper, El País reports that the Canary Islands could also impose a night curfew, just as tourists return to the vacation hotspot.
Greece has reported COVID-19 increases after weeks of decline, blaming the more contagious Delta variant ©X07402/AFP/Getty Images
Only people who are vaccinated or recently tested negative for COVID-19 will be allowed in bars, restaurants, cinemas, theaters and other closed spaces in Greece, Reuters reports. The rules apply nationwide, including the Greek islands.
In the Netherlands, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said his government had made a mistake in ligting so many measures so soon as infections skyrocket. “A judgement error was made. What we thought we could allow, we could actually not,” Mr Rutte said in The Hague.
“We are upset about it and we apologise,” he told reporters.
In a statement, the government “the coronavirus infection rate in the Netherlands has increased much faster than expected since society reopened almost completely on June 26. Most infections have occurred in nightlife settings and parties with high numbers of people.”
As a result, restaurants and bars are introducing assigned social seating and will close from midnight until 6am. Discos and nightclubs are closed again, and the country’s coronavirus entry pass scheme will now require that the holder has tested negative 24 hours before entering an event, sporting game or cultural venue.
As some European countries reintroduce measures, England is dropping all COVID-19 restrictions on July 19 including the legal requirement to wear face masks in public, despite the British Medical Association’s (BMA) call for continued face mask use, and the requirement for people to socially distance.
If you’re traveling to Europe this year, always check the latest measures before planning any trips.
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