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Which European countries are still in lockdown and can I go on holiday there?

Helen Coffey
·8-min read
<p>The Algarve, Portugal</p> (Getty Images)

The Algarve, Portugal

(Getty Images)

Leisure travel, both at home and abroad, is currently banned in the UK.

But according to the UK government’s roadmap out of lockdown, international holidays could become legal again from 17 May at the earliest.

However, the lifting of restrictions domestically is only one piece of a complex puzzle – are other European countries still in lockdown? What are the entry requirements? And will they let in British travellers, vaccinated or otherwise?

We take a look at the current state of play in some of our favourite holiday destinations in Europe.

France

What restrictions are in place?

At the end of January, the French government temporarily ruled out a third national lockdown. However, regional restrictions, such as weekend lockdowns and the closure of large shops, are increasingly being introduced in Covid hotspots to halt infection rates.

On a national level, a curfew has been in place from 6pm to 6am since 16 January. Public services, schools and shops are open but restaurants and cafes are closed, along with cinemas, theatres and museums. Wearing a face mask in enclosed public spaces and on public transport is compulsory, as is wearing one in outdoor public spaces in an increasing number of regions. Travel between regions is allowed.

What are the entry requirements?

Travel from the UK to France has been banned since 20 December. The only exceptions are French nationals and nationals of the European Area and their spouses and children, or British and/or third country nationals who are either habitually resident in France, the European Union or the European Area, or who must travel for certain essential reasons.

Arrivals must present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result, carried out less than 72 hours before departure; complete both a ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying they are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight; produce a signed ‘travel certificate’ (attestation) confirming their reason for travel; and quarantine for seven days upon arrival. They must also take a second Covid test and be found negative before leaving self-isolation.

Watch: First travellers released from UK hotel quarantine

When will holidays be possible?

It’s unclear. If infection rates drop by a sufficient amount across both countries, France may reopen its borders to UK travellers – but the French government has given no indication as to when that might be, or what entry rules would be in place.

Health Minister Olivier Véran has said it is too early to discuss the possibility of vaccination passports; France’s secretary of state for European affairs, Clément Beaune, told the Franceinfo news channel that the government was “very reluctant” to introduce vaccination passports because of their discriminatory nature.

Spain

What restrictions are in place?

Spain is currently not in lockdown, but there is a national overnight curfew in place (times vary, starting between 10pm and midnight and lasting until 6am).

Many regional authorities have introduced other measures such as limiting the opening hours and capacity of bars and restaurants, and in some places these remain closed until further notice.

Social gatherings are limited to a maximum of six people, and the use of face coverings is mandatory for anyone over the age of six years old on all forms of public transport in Spain and in many other indoor and outdoor public spaces.

What are the entry requirements?

Spain has banned travellers from the UK until at least 6pm on 16 March 2021, with the exception of Spanish nationals and those legally resident in Spain.

Permitted travellers arriving from the UK are not required to self-isolate, but must present a negative PCR, TMA or LAMP test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival. It is also mandatory for all passengers travelling to Spain to fill out and sign a Health Control Form 48 hours prior to travel.

When will holidays be possible?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said that he is in talks with Spain, among other countries, about international travel agreements that could see vaccine passports enable the restarting of tourism.

Spain has also indicated it hopes to welcome back British tourists this summer. Fernando Valdes, tourism secretary of state, said Spain was canvassing the European Union and the Organisation for Economically Developed Countries to agree to a system of vaccine passports to increase tourists’ mobility.

Spain will not bar tourists if they do not have proof they have been inoculated, he stressed, saying they would be part of a series of measures to allow British holidaymakers to return.

“We are defending this approach and we would like to coordinate these works with the British government,” he told The Independent.

Italy

What restrictions are in place?

Travel across regions in Italy is banned until 27 March unless for reasons of work, health or absolute necessity.

A nightly curfew is in place nationwide from 10pm to 5am and there is a strong recommendation from the Italian government that people do not travel by public or private transport except for work, study or health reasons.

The use of masks is mandatory in all public spaces, both outdoors or indoors. Theatres, cinemas, concert venues, sports centres, swimming pools, spas and wellness centres are closed, and eating food or drink outside is prohibited between 6pm and 5am.

Regions are split into coloured “zones” according to infection rates, ranging from white, yellow and orange to red; red zones are essentially under lockdown, with only essential shops currently open.

Restaurants, bars and other businesses are closed in around half of the country.

What are the entry requirements?

Until 5 March, entry into Italy from the UK is currently only permitted for those with official residency in Italy or those with absolute necessity, which must be declared in writing.

All those wishing to fly must present a negative Covid-19 rapid antigenic or molecular swab test taken no more than 72 hours before travel. You must also take a Covid test within 48 hours of entering Italy – arrivals by air will take this test at the airport. Whatever the results, those arriving from the UK must also report to their local health authorities on arrival and self-isolate for 14 days.

You must download and complete a self-declaration form from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before travel.

When will holidays be possible?

Possibly not for a while yet. Although Italy’s tourism minister has said the country wants to reopen for tourism as soon as infection rates are low enough and the vaccination programme is far enough along, the Italian government is currently not considering implementing a vaccination passport programme.

Greece

What restrictions are in place?

There are specific measures in place in Athens and surrounding the Attica region, Thessaloniki and Chalkidiki, where lockdown measures are in place.

The rest of Greece is split into a number of categories – amber, red and areas of heightened concern – with different levels of measures applying to each one.

In many areas there is a nightly curfew in place from ranging from 6pm to 9pm until 5am. Travel within the country is currently restricted, and it is mandatory to wear a mask in all public places (both indoors and outdoors).

What are the entry requirements?

UK nationals are currently permitted to enter Greece. In additional to presenting a negative Covid PCR test result taken within 72 hours prior to arriving in Greece, travellers must also take a rapid Covid-19 test on arrival, and if the result is negative, self-isolate for seven days. At the end of the seven-day self-isolation period, travellers are required to take a fresh PCR test in order to exit self-isolation. If you test positive on arrival in Greece, you will have to self-isolate for at least 14 days. You must also fill in a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) before you travel (both into and out of Greece).

When will holidays be possible?

The Greek authorities have indicated they are very much in favour of opening up tourism through the use of vaccination passports.

Greece has said it is in talks with the UK about allowing British travellers with vaccine certification to travel to the country from May.

Summer holidays in Greece could be on the cards for vaccinated travellers, the tourism minister has said.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today in February, Haris Theoharis said that the Greek government was in “preliminary discussions” with the UK on the question of allowing vaccinated travellers entry into Greece without being tested for Covid-19 first.

Portugal

What restrictions are in place?

The Portuguese government has put in place a series of measures to control the spread of the virus, including a national lockdown in mainland Portugal similar to that of the UK.

What are the entry requirements?

Travel to Portugal is limited to: EU/EEA nationals and their family members; UK and other non-EU/EEA nationals who are officially resident in Portugal or another EU member state; and UK and other third country nationals who are travelling for “essential” purposes.

All passengers, excluding children up to the age of two, must show a negative PCR test at the time of boarding taken within 72 hours of departure. If you are travelling from an EU member state, including in transit, where the Covid-19 incidence rate exceeds 500 per 100,000 inhabitants, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

All arrivals must complete an online passenger locator card before travel.

When will holidays be possible?

Portugal is one of the countries that has indicated it is in favour of vaccination passports to facilitate the safe reopening of tourism. Authorities have said a vaccination certificate could do away with requirements such as Covid tests and mandatory quarantine.

Watch: Should I book a holiday in 2021?

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