<p>Paris’s rules are changing soon</p>

Paris’s rules are changing soon

Europe Covid rules: What are the latest restrictions in France, Denmark and the Netherlands?

Several Omicron-hit countries are easing their domestic Covid rules over the next month

Lucy Thackray
Thursday 27 January 2022 15:32
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Several European countries, including France and the Netherlands, have announced that they plan to lift some domestic Covid rules.

These decisions have followed European health ministers’ assertion that hospitalisations and deaths have not risen dramatically in line with Covid cases, which remain high in many of these countries.

“There has been a decoupling between the trend that was applicable earlier in the epidemic, between increasing infection and increase in Covid hospitalisations,” an expert advisory panel told Denmark’s government on Friday, prompting a roadmap for a lifting of restrictions in the country.

The change in domestic rules - from mask-wearing to vaccine passports - could make for a dramatically different holiday experience, depending on when you visit in the coming months.

Many European countries tightened their rules around restaurant and bar opening hours, non-essential shops and public transport capacity as the Omicron wave hit, with some even imposing full lockdowns.

Some of these measures have since eased, while other governments - such as Germany’s - have voted to keep restrictions tight while cases remain high.

So what are the rules in travel hotspots such as Paris, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, and when are they set to change?

Here’s everything you need to know.

France

What are the rules now?

The big change this month has been the introduction of the country’s controversial new vaccine pass (pass vaccinal). It has been required since Monday 24 January in order to enter restaurants, cinemas and other public venues. Previously France had implemented a “pass sanitaire” - which showed either proof of full vaccination, proof of recent recovery or a recent Covid-19 test result - for entry to busy venues. This has now been replaced with a pass that only accepts proof of vaccination, in a bid to boost vaccine uptake among the public.

The passes are required for everyone aged 16 and over in bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and tourist sites, as well as ski resorts and on regional flights and trains. This shouldn’t be a problem for UK adults, who can only enter France with proof of full vaccination (and a negative PCR test result) in any case. Teenagers aged 12-15 can still use the pass sanitaire to show a negative test result in lieu of a vaccine certificate.

While bars and restaurants are open, nightclubs are closed and dancing in bars and other venues remains banned, with the après-ski scene in particular affected.

The implementation of the pass vaccinal is designed to allow more venues to open up to vaccinated people in France. “We are a bit more confident in saying we can relax some of these constraints and let people return to life as normal as possible,” said health minister Olivier Véran this week.

What is changing?

Last week, France announced a timeframe for lifting restrictions from 2 February onwards. The new vaccine pass rules mean that capacity limits for large venues such as concert halls and sports stadiums can now be lifted. Recommended working from home and mask-wearing outdoors will also end from 2 February.

From 16 February, nightclubs in France will reopen, dancing will be allowed in bars, and food and drink consumption will be allowed in stadiums and concert venues once more.

However, the pass vaccinal will be needed for most venues.

From 15 February, your two-dose “full vaccination” will also expire in France four months after the second jab. A booster dose will be required on your vaccine record for your health pass to remain valid and allow you into venues.

However, in his press conference on 20 January, French prime minister Jean Castex said that the vaccine pass could eventually be scrapped, if the Covid-19 situation improved dramatically.

Netherlands

What are the rules now?

Bars, restaurants, theatres and museums across the Netherlands were allowed to reopen on Wednesday 26 January - with the public having to show proof of full vaccination in order to enter. Sports stadiums, zoos, museums and attraction parks are also now allowed to open.

“Today we are taking a big step to further unlock the Netherlands”, prime minister Mark Rutte told a press conference on Tuesday, adding the caveat: “We really are taking a risk today, and we have to be clear about that.. The venues - which have been closed since mid-December, can now open between 5am and 10 pm, with reduced capacity and social distancing in place.

The announcement came after a month-long lockdown, with most Dutch venues closed altogether. Schools had reopened early this month, while non-essential stores had previously opened on 15 January, with mask-wearing mandatory.

What is changing?

Nothing more for the time being. Prime minister Mark Rutte has said the government is “consciously looking for the limits of what is possible” in line with hospitalisations and death rates. There have been large protests in Dutch cities against the recent lockdowns, and the next step would be a return to regular opening hours, with no curfew.

Health minister Ernst Kuipers said on Tuesday that the country’s Covid situation is still precarious. However, he acknowledged that “living for longer with restrictive measures harms our health and our society”.

Denmark

What are the rules now?

Two weeks ago, Danish authorities allowed cinemas and music venues to reopen following a partial lockdown in the country. Bars and restaurants are still subject to reduced opening hours and cannot serve alcohol after 10pm, and mask-wearing is still required when entering and moving around public venues.

Proof of vaccination is needed for entry to some indoor venues including bars and restaurants, and some attractions remain closed.

What is changing?

Danish authorities announced on Wednesday 26 January that they plan to remove most Covid restrictions from 1 February - though the bill has to be passed by parliament. As part of the proposed easing, nightclubs will be able to reopen, restaurants may once again serve alcohol after 10pm and customer capacity in shops will no longer be limited. Vaccine passes will no longer be needed to access venues, and masks will not be required on public transport.

In a letter to parliament, the health minister Magnus Heunicke said that the recommendations were given by an expert panel on Tuesday.

The current requirement for a PCR or antigen test before travelling to the country is expected to be lifted, too - but not within the next month.

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