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A Country-by-Country Guide to Reopened Europe: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and UK

by Packimpex on 8 June 2021

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Countries in the EU are opening their borders to vaccinated travelers and transferees.
This is what you need to know:

After a truly challenging year, a sense of normality is finally returning – especially as borders re-open for travel and relocation. The European Union announced on 26 May that vaccinated travelers would be allowed entry without a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine. This also includes relocating individuals who have received EU-approved vaccines from BioNTech and Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Although the EU aims to take a coordinated approach to these measures, individual countries can set their own requirements and some are already open.

Countries covered in this article

Packimpex offers relocation services in:

  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • The Netherlands
  • Switzerland
  • The United Kingdom

Below, for these countries, we provide the latest information about entry requirements and COVID-19 safety measures for transferees and travelers.

For even more country-specific details, we kindly refer you to our online PDF overview.

Belgium

State of the virus

  • The infection rate is raising but the hospital admission still decreased
  • Regarding the vaccination, 82% of the population above the age of 18 has now received the 1st dose and 56% is fully vaccinated

Entry requirements

  • All persons coming or returning to Belgium must fill out a PLF within 48 hours before arriving in Belgium (exception for people staying in Belgium for less than 48 hours or returning to Belgium after a stay abroad inferior to 48 hours)
  • Travellers (with or without the EU Digital Covid Certificate) coming from a EU red or orange zone are exempted of testing and quarantine requirements
  • Travellers coming from a EU red zone:
    • Holding an EU Digital Covid Certificate are exempted of testing and quarantine requirements
    • Not holding an EU Digital Covid Certificate must present a pre-departure negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to their arrival or take a test PCR at their arrival in Belgium (day 1 or 2) and undergo a quarantine till the negative outcome of the test
  • Travelers coming from non EU or Schengen zone :
    • Coming from a country without travel restrictions are exempted of testing and quarantine requirements
    • Coming from a country with travel restrictions and holding a recognized Covid Certificate must take a PCR test at their arrival and undergo a quarantine till the negative outcome of the test
    • Coming from a country with travel restrictions and not holding a recognized Covid Certificate must take a PCR test at their arrival and on the 7th day and undergo a 10 days quarantine
  • Travelers coming from a very high risk zone (with variants of concern):
    • Only Belgian residents are allowed to entered Belgium if returning from a very high risk zone and they must take a PCR test at their arrival and on the 7th day and undergo a 10 days quarantine, even if holding a valid EUDCC and fully vaccinated
    • Other travelers are prohibited from entering Belgium

Medical facilities

Test and vaccination centres are getting organised and enhancing their operations quickly. They are coordinated by the regional authorities.

  • Getting tested in Brussels? More info here.
  • Getting vaccinated in Brussels? Make an appointment here.
  • Getting tested in Wallonia? More info here.
  • Getting vaccinated in Wallonia? Register here.
  • Getting tested in Flanders? Look up centres here.
  • Getting vaccinated in Flanders? Register here.

Daily life

  • Each household may now have close contact with eight adults inside, and more outside (no fixed number)
  • Bars and restaurants are open until 1am and you are allowed at the table in groups of maximum 8 people or with people from the same household

Germany

State of the virus

Germany’s risk status was reduced in July as the country’s nationwide seven-day average remained at just 35 cases per 100,000 people. The country’s benchmark for determining when widespread re-openings can take place is 50 cases per 100,000 people per week.

The Infectious Diseases Protection Act was amended in April to include an “emergency brake”, requiring Germany’s 16 states to enforce uniform restrictions in areas where COVID-19 infection rates surpass 100 cases per 100,000 people per week.

As of the beginning of August, approximately 54% of the population was vaccinated.

Entry requirements

Travelers entering Germany by plane must take a COVID-19 test regardless of if they have spent time in a high-risk country. The negative test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding the plane. There are specific requirements regarding testing and proof of test results as well as mandatory quarantine for travelers entering Germany after spending time in a high-incidence area, or an area with concerning virus variants. These countries/areas are published on the RKI website.
Regarding quarantine, travelers can avoid this requirement by presenting a negative test result to the correct authority. If you have spent time in a high-incidence area prior to entry, the test result may not be older than 48 hours at the time of entry. Following a stay in an area with concerning virus variants, the quarantine period will not be shortened and is a full 14 days.

Proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 can replace a negative test result and exempt you from quarantine on entry. This does not apply if you have spent time in an area with concerning virus variants prior to entry.

Travelers entering Germany from an area with concerning virus variants: a travel ban has been put in place for transport companies from those areas. They may not transport people from those areas into Germany via rail, bus, ship or plane.

You can find additional information about quarantine requirements as well as exemptions here.

Anyone entering Germany will need to be registered at the following website unless they are entering the country from a non-risk area.

Medical facilities

COVID-19 testing is done all over Germany. There are many local testing centres. To find a nearby testing centre, check this website. No testing is needed anymore if you are fully vaccinated.

Daily life

Because the incidence rate was below 100 for more than seven days, Germany is currently in Phase 2. This means restaurants and shops have opened and outdoor dining is allowed when you present a negative test result. The test must be done on the same day.

Once the incidence rate falls below 50 for another seven days, more restrictions will be lifted. Please note that restrictions are lifted locally depending on the numbers in your area.

The Netherlands

State of the virus

As of the beginning of June, the situation in the Netherlands looked very promising. As a result of the decreasing infection rates, fewer people have been admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 and therefore the government has lifted the restrictions. Approximately 9.9 million vaccine doses have been administered (including second doses). The goal is for everyone to have received at least one dose by the end of July.

After lifting all restrictions, the Netherlands has seen a rapid increase in the infections rates right away. Clearly as a result of opening (night) clubs and allowing festivals to take place. The infections are seen with people between 15 and 30 of age. Since it is uncertain what this will do with the pressure on the healthcare system in combination with the uncertainty of the delta-virus, the government have decided to cancel big events and close night life after 00.00 hour. In the next couple of weeks younger people (+12 years) will have the opportunity to get there shots as well, so this should let the numbers go down again.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements when travelling into the Netherlands depend on where you are coming from. When you come from “safe countries”, the EU travel ban does not apply and you can enter the country with a negative test result. In these cases, quarantine is not required and nationality and reason for visiting are not considered. More information about “safe countries” is available at this link.

If the country you are travelling from is not on the list, then it is considered high-risk. For up-to-date information about regulations and requirements when travelling to the Netherlands from a high-risk country, please see the checklist at this link.

Medical facilities

In the Netherlands, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) provides information to the public and the government. The vaccination program and COVID-19 testing are coordinated by the public health service, GGD. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should stay home and make an appointment for a COVID-19 test. You can call the national helpline (0800-1202) or visit www.coronatest.nl. You will be assisted by the GGD and given an appointment at a test centre near you.

Daily life

As of 5 June 2021, the Netherlands is in Step 3 of its reopening plan. This means that most locations can re-open, but certain protocols and safety measures are still in place. More information regarding these regulations is available at this link.

Switzerland

State of the virus

Infection rates continue to be volatile, with new variants pushing numbers upwards. The vaccine program is pushing forward and around 42% of the population are fully protected. 

The main concern at the moment seems to be new variants and closing borders to travelers from countries where virus variants have been discovered.

Entry requirements

Details regarding entry requirements remain complex depending on where travelers are coming from and which mode of transportation they are using. Travel by plane requires a COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours but generally, entering the country by car does not.

It is recommended to check this website for any changes to the requirements.

Medical facilities

The Federal Office of Public Health is the best help for all things medical. Rapid testing is available at the airports and some other testing centres. Individual cantons are responsible for more wide-spread testing centres. Home-testing kits can be ordered from your Swiss health insurance provider or picked up at your local pharmacy at no charge.

Hospitals have capacity for new COVID-19 patients. This situation is being closely monitored and hospitals are on high alert in case of another surge.

The SwissCovid app, which has had 2 million downloads, provides helpful information as well as notifications in case you have been in close contact with another app user who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Daily life

At the beginning of June, many restrictions were lifted but the country is not yet fully open. Restaurants and bars are now open for indoor dining. Private gatherings indoors are limited to 30. Masks must be worn when indoors in public places and on transportation.

Shops are fully open with some limits to the number of people allowed at any given time.

Generally there is a sense of relaxation. Daily life is slowly returning to normal but there are still very few foreign visitors.

Packimpex’s relocation and immigration experts in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland can advise you on a case-by-case basis.  We provide the complete range of both destination services and immigration support in all four countries to companies of all size as well as private individuals.

The UK

State of the virus

    • The infection rate is rising but the hospital admissions, although rising, are considerably lower than in the Autumn.
    • Vaccination rates: approx. 54% of the population above the age of 18 in England and Scotland is fully vaccinated; 61% in Wales and 52% in Northern Ireland.
    • Countries and territories are listed as either red, amber or green. The rules for testing and quarantine when you arrive in England are different for each list.

Entry requirements in England

    • You can check the red, amber and green list to find the rules for the country or territory you’re travelling from or have travelled through here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-amber-and-green-list-rules-for-entering-england
    • The rules you must follow depend on which countries or territories you’ve been in or travelled through in the 10 days before you arrive in England, as well as the one you’re travelling from.
    • For example, if you travel from an amber list country but have been in a red list country in the 10 days before you arrive in England, you must follow rules for red list countries.

Daily life

    • As from the 19th July; Social distancing
    • No limits on how many people can meet
    • 1m-plus guidance removed (except in some places like hospitals and passport control when entering)
    • Face coverings no longer required by law, although the government still “expects and recommends” them in crowded and enclosed spaces
    • Some shops and transport operators will still require masks; Events and gatherings
    • Nightclubs can reopen
    • Pubs and restaurants no longer table-service only
    • No limits on guests at weddings and funerals
    • No limits on people attending concerts, theatres or sports events
    • No restrictions on communal worship; Travel
    • Guidance recommending against travel to amber list countries removed
    • Under-18s and fully vaccinated adults no longer have to self-isolate after visiting amber list countries – although those returning from France to the UK must still quarantine for 10 days
    • Bars and restaurants are open until 1am and you are allowed at the table in groups of maximum 8 people or with people from the same household

 

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