Netherlands travel rules: what are the restrictions for tourists?

The Netherlands is currently seeing a surge in Covid cases, leading to the announcement of a strict lockdown from mid December into mid January.

This could affect trips to popular winter city destinations such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as day to day life in these holiday spots grinds to a halt for both locals and tourists.

So what does this mean for holidays and city breaks over the next month or two?

Here’s everything we know so far.

What are the current Covid-related restrictions?

As of 19 December, the Netherlands is back in a nationwide lockdown.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the measures on Saturday 18 December, saying a full lockdown was “inevitable with the fifth wave and with Omicron spreading even faster than we had feared.

“Omicron is forcing us to limit our number of contacts as quickly as possible, and as much as possible, which is why the Netherlands will be locked [down],” he added.

Bars, restaurants and non-essential shops – along with theatres, cinemas and cultural venues – will be shut down from 19 December until 14 January, while schools will be closed until 9 January.

Dutch locals are allowed four guests into each household on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, while visitors are capped at two people for every other day of the lockdown.

The maximum group size for people meeting outdoors is two, unless a larger group such as a family lives at the same address.

While tourists are not banned from entering the Netherlands, this will be a major hit to leisure breaks and holidays, with tourists unable to go out for meals or enjoy many of the country’s top attractions as normal.

Tourism advice on the Netherlands’ government website reads: “The current advice is to stay at home as much as possible. If you decide to go on a short holiday or a family visit in the Netherlands, avoid crowds and follow the basic rules. Visits should be limited to one per day, and the maximum number of visitors to four.”

What are the entry requirements for the Netherlands when travelling from the UK?

For vaccinated travellers:

Fully vaccinated travellers can enter the country, but from 22 December, they will have to enter into a 10-day self-isolation period after arrival.

This can be reduced by taking a test on day five – if the result comes back negative, you will be released from quarantine early.

“From 22 December, all travellers from the UK, irrespective of their vaccination status or possession of a negative test, must undergo 10 days’ home quarantine upon arrival. This period can be reduced to five days if the traveller receives a negative test result from the Dutch authorities (GGD) on Day five,” reads the current Foreign Office advice.

Double-jabbed travellers must also have a negative Covid test result to show on arrival, along with their proof of vaccination.

This can be:

  • a negative PCR test result based on a sample collected no more than 48 hours before departure, or
  • a negative antigen test result based on a sample collected no more than 24 hours before departure

You are considered fully vaccinated in the Netherlands two weeks after your second vaccination dose (or four weeks after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine).

When you emerge from isolation, you will will be subject to the same lockdown rules as locals until at least 14 January.

These include not being able to dine out or visit attractions, and only being able to visit friends in groups of two – or meet up with someone from another household outdoors, on a one-on-one basis.

The self-isolation rule is based on the UK being on the Netherlands’ list of “very high risk areas”, so rules may ease at short notice if the country is removed from that list.

For unvaccinated or partly vaccinated travellers:

Travellers who have not been fully vaccinated will need an essential reason to enter the Netherlands from 22 December.

A list of essential reasons for non-double-jabbed travellers can be found here.

If an unvaccinated traveller is deemed to have an essential reason, they will also need to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival and abide by the local Covid restrictions.

Unvaccinated people with an essential reason to enter must also fill in a quarantine declaration form and take a Covid test on the day they arrive, and again on day five after arrival.

Are there any other rules on the ground?

Non-essential services such as clothing shops, hairdressers, as well as museums, the hospitality industry and indoor gyms are closed. Essential services such as supermarkets and chemists are open, but will close at 8pm.

In terms of moving around, face masks must be worn on public transport, in stations and on platforms by those aged 13 and over. If you do not wear a face mask as directed, you may be fined €95 (£81).

You must also keep 1.5 metres away from other people in public areas.

Children under the age of 13 are not required to wear a face mask.

How long will the restrictions last?

The lockdown is set to run from 18 December until at least 14 January.

The lockdown comes on top of existing restrictions that have been in place since 28 November – beforehand, bars, restaurants, and other public meeting places such as theatres and cinemas were forced to close at 5pm, a measure the government may revert to in January.

The lockdown rules are likely to be reviewed the week before the prospective end date, with ministers deciding if the strain on the country’s health system has been sufficiently eased before deciding whether to end or extend the rules.

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