Expat Essentials

Expat Essentials: Dispatches’ complete guide to pandemic rules, restrictions across Europe (updated)

(Editor’s note: As of early 2021, most countries in Europe have blocked entry from the United Kingdom because of a highly contagious – and possibly more dangerous – variant of COVID-19 . The situation is changing hourly, so look for daily updates.)

Twenty-twenty, the Year of Calamity, continues into 2021 as Austria, Germany, France, the Netherlands and other European countries entered varying degrees of lockdown, and now, travel bans. By our calculations, more than 400 million Europeans are under a lockdown – hard or soft – as of 22 January.

A new strain of coronavirus has emerged in Britain, with already severe lockdowns in London and other cities predicted to become even more Draconian before vaccinations can begin in earnest. In other countries such as Austria and Belgium, the infection rates have dropped since November, but high death rates persist.

Almost a year of pandemic has shown us quickly countries such as Sweden and Germany can go from celebrated to excoriated for their approach to checking COVID-19.

We’re adding a new tool developed by Dutch graphic arts and computer specialist Jan Willem Tulp at Den Haag-based Tulp Interactive designed to help you comprehend how fast the number of cases is rising including the number of cases per minute or even per second for 150 countries. You can see Jan Willem’s data visualization tool here.

For a few weeks in June and July, it looked like the COVID-19 pandemic was over in Europe, with countries including Austria, Estonia, Greece, Ireland and Croatia reporting very low infection rates and days without a coronavirus-linked death. Then sometime in August – in a rough correlation with Europe’s vacation season – countries from Spain to Denmark started reporting a second wave with fare more cases and deaths than the early days of the pandemic in March 2020.

You can see the all the trends and graphs here on Worldometer.


Country profile:

Austria was under a hard lockdown as of 17 November, one of the toughest in Europe, but shifted to lockdown light effective 7 December … until 26 December, when a new, tighter lockdown went into effect. Now, the country’s third lockdown has been extended to 8 February.

Austria briefly overtook Belgium, with the highest number of new infections per million inhabitants in western Europe, according to the Financial Times COVID-19 tracker.

Austria went from as few as 17 new cases in 24 hours on 25 May to an historic high of 9,586 new cases in 24 hours on 13 November, about 400-percent more than the 30 March peak of the first wave. That wave receded to about 1,500 new coronavirus cases every 24 hours as of 17 January. But that’s still about 20 percent higher than the worst days of the first wave.

Deaths in 24 hours have not slowed, with at least 50 deaths in September and about 273 for October. That number more than trebled to at least 1,000 deaths recorded in November, with an historic peak of 218 on 17 December. Deaths every 24 hours for December peaked at 128 on 29 December, with a total of about 1,600 for the month.

The rules:

Austria entered a third lockdown on 26 December with daytime curfews. Non-essential shops are closed through 8 February.

At Christmas and New Year’s, restrictions of the number of people gathering were expanded to 10 from a max of six adults and six children now.

You can see the official coronavirus tracking dashboard here.

As of 11 September, Kurz reintroduced mandatory face mask rules in all public spaces, supermarkets, shops, government buildings and schools, according the the Voice of America.

They remain mandatory on public transportation.

New anti-coronavirus measures including a 10 p.m. curfew in the tourist states of Tirol, Vorarlberg and Salzburg just in time for ski season to keep skiers from congregating in clubs and bars after a day on the slopes.

There will also be mandatory face coverings on the slopes and in the gondolas.

The border:

On 20 December, Austria closed its borders to travelers from the UK though Austria has refused to close its ski areas. BUT, with travel restrictions, only the Austrians are skiing.

Earlier, Austria has declared parts of Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Portugal, Spain and the U.K. as Red Zones, requiring quarantine or a negative Covid-19 test, taken within the last 72 hours for entry. More countries including Germany are including Vienna and other parts of Austria including the Tyrol on high-risk lists. Germany has also decided to extend border controls with Austria – due expire 11 November – for another six months.

Austrian officials are cautioning citizens not to travel to Croatia as cases spike there though there’s no ban.

Otherwise, you should check the Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection website here to see if there are new restrictions as the situation is changing daily.

Here’s the official website.


Country profile:

In early November, the country’s public health officials said they were losing control. But as of mid-month, the number of new COVID-19 cases every 24 hours has decreased to about 5 percent of the peak on 29 October.

Belgium has the dismal distinction of having the highest rate of deaths per million of population – 1,780 as of 22 January – in the world and more than 20,600 deaths since the pandemic began. It has the fourth-highest rate of infection in Europe behind the Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic.

Since the end of October, the infection rate has dropped from a peak of about 24,000 new cases in 24 hours on 30 October to as low as 960 on 12 January, so the second wave seems to have plateaued at an average of about 2,000 new cases every 24 hours as of 17 January.

Belgium reported a total of about 150 deaths August and about 80 in September. The situation is just getting worse, with about 1,200 deaths in October and a peak of 345 reported on 11 November.

There were about 5,000 deaths reported in November, declining to about 3,000 for December.

Most of Belgium is “red” on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control chart indicating infection rates of more than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.


As of 1 December, Belgium has eased its coronavirus restrictions, with shops allowed to reopen though bars and restaurants will remain closed. But as of 25 January, officials enacting a non-essential travel ban.

Belgians are still required to work from home whenever possible and pandemic rules will last until at least March when coronavirus admissions to the hospital are projected to drop below 75 per day.

Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès’ website is here.

Look for the rules to be updated on the official government coronavirus page here.

The borders:

Belgium has banned all nonessential travel through March 1. This applies to all travel, though cross-border workers are exempt. So if you work in the Netherlands but live in Belgium, which is very common, you’re good to go.

As of 25 January, Belgians returning from Britain, South America or South Africa must quarantine for 10 days and take a PCR test on the first and seventh day. Non-residents traveling to Belgium must present two negative PCR tests – one before departure and one on arrival. 

On 20 December, Belgium became one of the first countries in Europe to ban travelers from the UK due to the new, more infectious strain of COVID-19. Brits are not alone. Now, as noted above, look for a non-essential travel ban.

On 14 December, Dutch PM Mark Rutte and his Belgian counterpart, Alexander de Croo had “the talk” about keeping Dutch folks from crossing the border into Belgium and crowding into shopping streets to escape the Netherlands’ shutdown that has closed stores. At Christmas.

The agreement is, there is a ban (sort of) on “fun shopping.” There are strict rules in all stores: You must shop alone, and you can stay in a store for a maximum of 30 minutes.

Of course, how do you tell Dutch shoppers from locals? Because at the borders both speak Dutch, or at least a version of Dutch.

Winter trips and journeys to red zones are strongly discouraged. Non-essential travel to and from outside EU and Schengen countries remains prohibited and all passengers arriving in Belgium by air or sea must fill in a “Public Health Passenger Locator Form.”

Belgium has launched a travel map with open countries, and countries with travel restrictions, and you can see it here. Travel to countries marked “red” is strongly discouraged. That said, when returning from a “red zone” (that would be the Netherlands next door) you must quarantine for at least a week. 

On 7 August, the UK added Belgium to its list of countries British citizens are discouraged from visiting for anything other than essential travel.


You seriously didn’t want to be in Croatia at the start of December, when daily COVID-19 infection rates and deaths were off the charts. As of 17 January, there have been about 225,000 Confirmed cases and more than 4,600 deaths in Croatia. In May, it appeared the pandemic was over in this Adriatic country, with Croatia escaping largely unaffected, especially compared to Italy and Spain.

But about 1 million tourists poured into the country during July and August. Unlike most countries in the EU, Croatia allowed tourist from the US and other countries, with predictable results. The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that for the week of Aug. 10 to 16, there was a 174 percent increase in the rate of infections compared to the week prior. 

In short, no country in Europe – not even Spain – saw cases rise so dramatically, with one out of every 58 people diagnosed with COVID-19 dying – one out of nine hospitalised as of late November.

July was a tough month, with daily new cases rising steadily in a second wave, peaking at 140 on 11 July, then receding to 28 on 6 August. Then Croatia had a third, far more severe wave, with an historic peak of 4,620 new cases reported on 10 December. That’s 40 times the number of cases in 24 hours of 96 on 1 April, the peak of the first wave.

But, that wave has passed, with new coronavirus cases in 24 hours dropping to as low as 230 on 11 January and the number of hospitalized COVID patients dropping rapidly.

As in Austria and other countries with new coronavirus spikes, there hadn’t been a corresponding rise in deaths, with about 35 deaths in August and 80 for September. That’s changed, as well. On 16 December, the country recorded 92 deaths in 24 hours, the highest since the pandemic began. There were about 270 deaths reported in October. There were 1,000 total deaths recorded in November and about 2,200 deaths in December.

The good news is, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has said Croatians will get vaccinated free of charge.

The rules:

In late December, there were a series of earthquakes, which changed the rules for entering the country. You can see them here.

As of late November, Croatia is locked down, with cafés, restaurants and gyms closed.

New rules effective 27 November:

• Public gatherings are banned including wedding parties.

• Sports competitions will be held without spectators, and all public events will have to end at 10 pm. 

• At 10 p.m., all bakeries and catering facilities will have to close and there’s a ban on alcohol sales from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

On 25 October, Croatia introduced mandatory use of face masks in closed spaces as new infections rise.

Masks are mandatory for healthcare workers, hospital visitors, drivers and passengers on public transport, customers and store employees and “employees in the hospitality business who are in contact with guests or participate in serving and preparing meals and beverages,” according to the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

Croatia has lifted its internal travel rules. Here’s the official Croatian government page.

The border:

A border closure was due to end 15 December, but there’s no notification it’s been lifted on the Croatian official website. People entering the country from the EU or EAA states must show a valid coronavirus test.

As of 1 November, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia all have Croatia or Croatian regions on their quarantine lists. Croatia has been on the UK’s and Slovenia’s quarantine list since 20 August.


Country profile:

Denmark, like Croatia, seems to have begun flattening the curve after the second pandemic wave though deaths are still at historic highs. But Denmark has vaccinated an estimated 1 percent of its population as of 17 January, the highest percentage in Europe.

In September, the country entered a second wave, reporting an average of about 400 new cases per day for the month. That increased exponentially to 4,508 new cases in 24 hours on 18 December, by far the most since the pandemic began. The infection rate has plateaued dropped to about 900 new cases every 24 hours as of 17 January and infection rates are declining. Unfortunately, in a phenomenon increasingly common, high death rates are trailing the decline in new infections.

There were a total of eight deaths reported in August and 17 in September. That rate is increasing as Denmark reports about 84 deaths recorded in October and about 90 in November. For December, there were about 350 deaths reported. January has seen an historic high of 43 on 14 January, with about 200 for the month as of the 17th.

You can see Denmark’s COVID-19 dashboard here.

The rules:

With cases rising, Danish leaders were assuring Danes there would be no return to a March 11-style rigid shutdown. “It was the right thing to do back then. It wouldn’t be the right thing to do again,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told TV2 on 10 September.

But on 16 December, a partial lockdown covers most of the country through 3 January – which has been extended to 17 January:

• restaurants, bars, cafes, gyms, sports centres and swimming pools are closed and classes are online.

• restaurants and cafes are allowed to do carry-out.

• indoor areas at amusement parks, zoos, aquariums, as well as at museums, theatres, cinemas and libraries, are closed.

Face masks are required on public transport and taxi, and are also required in airports and on flights. For full information on this and more, visit the Danish Health Authority pages.

The borders:

Denmark is developing a digital “vaccine passport” for people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine, but there’s no definite date for its introduction.

Denmark banned flights from the UK effective 20 December.

Denmark has issued a list of confusing edicts warning about travel to places like Finland, where infection rates are climbing, while stating the country will keep open its borders. Denmark added Finland to its high-risk list effective 27 November. But earlier this month, Danish officials announced that starting 1 December, they will keep borders open for internationals coming from the EU/Schengen zone and the United Kingdom if the infection rate in those countries/regions is under 30 new cases per 100,000 citizens per week.

Effective 6 November, the UK banned all in-bound travel from Denmark due to fears of a coronavirus mutation among farmed minks could lead to a vaccine-proof version of the virus. Denmark has announced it will cull all 17 million minks in commercial operations.

As of 26 September, Iceland, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Slovenia have been added to Denmark’s high-risk countries list, with non-essential travel there is discouraged.

Danes are also discouraged from traveling to Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland, due to spikes in new COVID-19 cases in those countries. And anyone traveling to Denmark from those countries is required to quarantine for 10 days.

Non-essential travel is also discouraged to to Andorra, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Romania and Spain.

Here are the latest travel regulations, which are changing almost daily.


Country profile:

France lifted its second lockdown as of 15 December, with infection rates essentially plateauing at about 20,000 new COVID-19 cases every 24 hours as of 21 January. Deaths have remained stubbornly above 400 every 24 hours so on 15 January, another lockdown is in place, or at least a longer curfew.

In mid-November, France passed Spain as the European country with the most coronavirus cases, with 2.99 million as of 21 January. The country’s death toll has reached 72,000 as of 21 January … 1,102 deaths per million of population, behind Sweden, Belgium, the UK, Spain and Italy.

France reported its highest number of new cases in 24 hours – about 89,000 – on 7 November, more than 10 times the infection rate during the first peak in April, though the infection rate is declining. (See the chart above.)

However, the rate of new cases every 24 hours had dropped as low as 3,063 in late December, though the infection rate is now rising again to an average of about 21,000 new cases per day as of 21 January.

As in other countries in Europe, daily deaths had remained relatively low compared to the first wave – about 260 in August. deaths in France spiked at 932 reported in 24 hours on 13 November and the daily average was about 500 as of 27 November.

There were about 3,500 deaths recorded in October and about 16,600 in November.

There were about 10,300 deaths deaths recorded in December.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said French citizens will begin getting the COVID-19 vaccine starting at the end of December or beginning of January.

The Rules:

As of 15 January, the curfew is now 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Other restrictions include cinemas, theaters, museums and casinos stopped from reopening 15 December as originally planned. They were scheduled to reopen in mid-February. However, the French Assemblée Nationale ruled 21 January in favour of extending the state of health emergency through 1 June, with a final vote scheduled for 27 January. The state of emergency has been in effect since 15 October. That state of emergency gives Paris the powers to do whatever needs to be done including curfews.

 Anyone out of their home during the curfew hours must have an attestation (permission form) listing the reason. You can see those reasons here.

You can see all the rules here on the official coronavirus website.

The borders:

As of 24 January, France requires a negative PCR test 72 hours before departure for most European arrivals other than those on essential travel. Anyone from another EU country – or pretty much anywhere – entering France must submit a negative coronavirus test that is no more than 72 hours old.

France banned arrivals from the UK on 20 December in an attempt to block the new COVID-19 variant. Travelers from outside the EU will have to provide a negative test before entering the country and sign a sworn statement that they will self isolate for seven days before getting another PCR test. And apparently, there are stricter requirements for people coming from inside the EU, according to Politico.


Country profile:

Chancellor Angela Merkel is not given to overt displays of emotion, but her early December speech rocked the Bundestag, stating that 590 deaths per day is too high a price for ignoring pandemic restrictions.

She couldn’t know that in only three weeks later, Germany would almost triple the number of deaths to a grim record of 1,244 on 29 December.

Merkel warned earlier in 2020 that if Germans didn’t help stem the rising tide of COVID-19 infections, there would consequences. On 28 October, she was as good as her word, announcing a 1-month lockdown effective 2 November … a lockdown that could last months. That lockdown is about to get a lot more rigid, with a hard lockdown closing most shops starting 16 December through 10 January, according to DW.

Unlike in the spring, Germany is running out of ICU beds – something thought impossible. But COVID-19 patients in ICUs skyrocketed from 267 on 21 September to 3,615 on 20 November — a 1,253-percent increase in two months – with deaths up sharply.

As a result, restaurants, bars and clubs will close and people in Germany are advised to stay home, avoid travel and “keep their contacts to an absolute minimum,” Merkel said. Social contacts will be limited to two households in public. Schools and kindergartens will remain open, but have to take strict hygiene measure to do so, according to CNN.

Germany has the fifth largest number of coronavirus infections in Europe but one of the lower death rates at 565 per million in population as of 18 January. (Compare that to Belgium at 1,575.) It has about half as many cases as France.

New deaths per 24 hours dipped to single digits on 20 July and new cases as low as 138 per day on 12 July, so German officials reopened almost everything including the country’s bars and restaurants and even eliminated all Schengen Area border controls. (That said, each of the 16 states have the authority to make their own local rules. You can see the federal rules here.)

German officials warned in October the number of new cases is likely to reach 20,000 per day and they were right – a record 31,553 on 18 December, with the country averaging more than 25,000 new cases every 24 hours for this month as of 21 December.

There were more than 90 total deaths reported in August, with at least 165 deaths in September. By comparison, there were about 900 deaths reported in October and about 4,600 in November. For December, Germany recorded about 17,000 deaths including an historic peak of 1,244 in 24 hours on 29 December. As of mid-January, deaths are still averaging about 1,100 per day.

Still, Germany – with Europe’s largest population and about 2 million cases as of 18 January – has about one-third the cases reported in France and Spain, both of which have crossed the 2.5 million coronavirus cases.

Germany started rolling out its BioNTech-Pfizer program last month.

The rules:

Last month, Merkel instituted a nationwide “lockdown light,” closing down bars, restaurants, gyms and public events while schools stay open. That didn’t work and Germany’s infection rate and death rate are off the charts as of mid-December. So now Germany has entered a hard lockdown, closing all retailers but groceries just before Christmas … and now, for the first time, schools and daycares. This has been extended to at least 31 January from 10 January.

 New rules include residents of coronavirus hotspots are restricted from traveling more than 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from their town without a valid reason. Day trips are specifically ruled out.

About one in six German districts had incident rates over the hotspot threshold of 200 cases per 100,000 residents over seven days. 

You can see all the rules here on DW.

The borders:

Germany has blocked all arrivals from the UK due to the new COVID-19 variant.

Germany extended border controls with Austria – due expire 11 November – for another six months and it’s likely the border with Switzerland will close. Germany has annoyed the Austrians with calls that the ski season be cancelled.

The situation is changing all the time and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website seems to be updated fairly frequently. But if you live in an EU country, you can still go to Germany. That said, there are some ground rules.

Anyone coming to Germany from risk areas must be tested for coronavirus on entry and placed in quarantine until the test results are known.

Luxembourg residents can only cross the German border with a negative coronavirus test which must not be more than 48 hours old. Also on the list of high-risk countries and regions are several French departments, and the Belgian region around Brussels.

Just about the time Austria was giving the all-clear to skiing (though not après-ski parties) Germany was putting its neighbor on a red-zone list.

Robert Koch Health Institute now includes Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, and the Austrian Tyrol region on its extended its list of high-risk travel destinations.

Germany has rated regions in 11 European countries as high-risk areas in including Wales and Northern Ireland, Pays de la Loire and Burgundy and the entirety of Belgium and Iceland, advising against all but essential travel there. (It also gives Germans an option to cancel travel without penalties.)

Germany classifies an area as high-risk and issues a travel warning if the number of new coronavirus infections exceeds the mark of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days.

On the bright side, as of 1 October, Germany lifted its general travel warning for a total of 160 countries outside the EU, with each country now assessed individually, according to the Guardian.

Germany requires arrivals from Spain — except the Canary Islands — as well as countries in the Balkans including Croatia to self-isolate for 14 days.


Country profile:

Until the second wave hit Greece in October, this is another country touted early on as a model for how to deal with pandemics. Greece reported nine coronavirus deaths for the entire month of July and new daily cases had been in the low double-digits until the end of July.

This second wave wasn’t unexpected. Greek officials stated they expected as many as 5,000 “imported cases” this summer. Still, Greece has reported a peak of 3,316 cases in 24 hours on 12 November, 21 times higher than the previous peak of 156 on 21 April. Daily new deaths have also peaked, with 121 in 24 hours reported on 28 November, dropping to 43 on 1 January. There were about 2,500 total deaths in December.

The rules:

Greece is back under lockdown indefinitely, but stores and malls reopened 18 January. You’re only allowed to leave your home for work, food shopping, visiting a doctor or exercising. Which means basically you have to stay home unless you want to go out and make money, or spend it.

There are no restrictions on how many times a day people can leave their homes, or for how long, according to the Associated Press. But everyone is required to send an SMS text message to 13033 in order to get permission to leave their homes.

The nationwide nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. has also been extended indefinitely.

Bookstores are open with customer capacity limits.

Greece has closed elementary schools, kindergartens and nurseries until the end of the month. Colleges and high schools have been closed since 9 November. A stay-at-home order was reintroduced on 7 November.

The government also indefinitely suspended all religious processions and bazaars.

The borders:

Through 7 February, all people traveling to Greece from foreign countries will be required to have a negative PCR for COVID-19, performed up to 72 hours before they arrive. This includes air and land arrivals to Greece.

Arriving passenters must isolate themselves either at home or at a temporary residence for one week. 

Here’s the official Greek travel rules site.

Greece is back on the UK’s bad list as of 14 November, with arrivals required to quarantine for 14 days.

Italy is now testing all arrivals from Greece and it’s looking like the UK could add Greece to its quarantine list.

As of August 12, travelers from Malta have to present proof of a negative molecular test (PCR) result for Covid-19 taken no more than 72 hours before.


Country profile:

Ireland is entering a severe third wave, with new restrictions. Taoiseach Michael Martin has said the new more infectious variant first detected in England is “spreading at a rate that has surpassed the most pessimistic models available to us.”

For a few weeks, Ireland replaced Denmark and Greece as Europe’s coronavirus success story. Then it all fell apart and Ireland is now in lock-down mode with total COVID-19 cases at about 93,500 as of 1 January.

Daily cases dropped to zero with zero deaths in 24 hours on 28 June from a peak of about 1,500 new cases and 220 deaths on 20 April. In December, a third massive wave started, with cases reaching 1,753 on 1 January, by far the historic high. New cases for January are now averaging about 1,600 every 24 hour. However, the death rates has not – so far – matched the infection rate.

From 7 August to 1 October, Ireland reported only 22 deaths, all in September. There were a total of about 75 deaths recorded in October, about 107 in November and about 120 deaths in December.

The rules:

Ireland is back in its third full lockdown, this one scheduled to last until 31 January.

Restrictions include:

  • No visitors in private homes or gardens unless they are providing care to children or the elderly or vulnerable, or part of a support bubble
  • No social or family gatherings in any setting, with an exemption for weddings with up to six guests and funerals with up to 10 mourners
  • People should stay at home except for travel for work, education or other essential reasons, or for exercise within 5 kilometers of home
  • Non-essential retail and gyms will close

Here is the official government website.

The border:

On 20 December, Ireland joined most other countries in Western Europe, banning arrivals from the United Kingdom, but it was too late.

The Irish Government announced on 11 November that passengers returning to Ireland from any red country, including Spain, can submit to a Covid PCR test after self-isolating for just five days.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises against all non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all cruise ship travel. Anyone coming into the Republic, other than from Northern Ireland. This includes Irish residents. Essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots, and maritime staff are exempt.


Country profile:

Italy has swung back and forth between disaster and recovery since last March, and that isn’t changing. One of the biggest differences between Italy and the rest of Europe is the death rate. On a per capita basis, Italy is 37th in the world in total COVID-19 cases, but has the fourth-highest number of deaths.

The end of April and beginning of May was a period of dramatic recovery for Italy, with infection rates and deaths dropping and recoveries rising. Italian officials announced Italy is back open as of 3 June.

But as with every country on this list, Italy is experiencing a sustained second far more severe COVID-19 wave … a wave that really hit at the beginning of October. That second wave is receding, and parts of Italy including Calabria, Lombardy and the Piedmont have gone from red to orange. As of 1 January, Italy has recorded the largest number of pandemic deaths in Europe at about 75,000, passing the UK and crossing the 2 million cases mark.

In September, there was an average of 1,500 cases per day. Now Italy is averaging about 30,000 new coronavirus cases every 24 hours, with an historic peak of 41,000 on 13 November. That’s more than 600 times the rate at the worst part of the first wave in March, with healthcare workers overwhelmed.

As we enter 2021, Italy appears to be entering another wave of infection, with the number of new cases in 24 hours rising from about 8,500 on 28 December to 23,476 on 31 December.

Deaths in 24 hours peaked at 993 on 3 December and are averaging more than 700 per day as of late December. Italy recorded an estimated 17,000 deaths in November and about 18,000 for December.

The difference is, both the north and south of the country are affected, not just the north as in the first wave.

The rules:

Italy banned travel and midnight mass over the Christmas period after recording its worst daily coronavirus death toll after recording about 1,000 deaths in 24 hours on 3 December, the highest one-day death total since the pandemic began.

Much of Italy is back under a strict open-ended lockdown, which has been extended until at least 31 January. Italy’s red zones with the highest infection rate include about 16.5 million people out of a total population of 60 million. In those zones, residents can only leave home for work, healthcare essential shopping or emergencies. All non-essential shops are closed, according to the BBC.

Between 21 December and 6 January, Italians will only be allowed to move between regions for work, medical reasons and emergencies.

Naples and Florence were declared coronavirus red zones on 13 November. Starting 26 October, all bars and restaurants across the country close by 6 p.m. for a month, though schools and workplaces remain open.

Gyms, swimming pools, theatres and cinemas are closed and Italians are “strongly recommended” against leaving their homes and neighborhoods except for school, work or medical treatment.

The border:

Brits returning to the UK from Italy must self-isolate and only essential travel is recommended. If you’re going to Italy, Brits must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before travelling or get tested on arrival

Italy’s current rise in coronavirus cases is attributed to  residents recently returned home vacations in Spain, Peru, Malta, Croatia and Greece, according to officials. But it is still on the UK’s list of approved destinations.

Still, you have to self-isolate for 14 days as you enter Italy from any country outside Europe.

In August, Italy introduced compulsory testing upon arrival for people coming from Spain, Malta and Croatia and later added large parts of France, the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic. 

COVID-19 PCR test is required within 72 hours of arrival for people coming from:

  • Croatia
  • Greece
  • Malta
  • Spain
  • UK


Country profile:

As of 18 January, the country has reported about 49,000 confirmed cases – up more than 300 percent from October – and 552 deaths in a population of only about 700,000. From mid-March into early April, Luxembourg had one of the highest infection rates in the world, but got the situation under control quickly. The duchey began easing coronavirus restrictions on Monday, 20 April along with an order that the public cover their mouths when entering confined spaces such as public transport or shops.

Luxembourg saw one of Europe’s fastest recoveries and was the first major economy in Western Europe to go consecutive days with no coronavirus deaths, recording zero deaths since 24 May. It even shut off its COVID-19 hotline on 13 June.

Now, Luxembourg is exiting a second wave of infections, with a spike of 892 new coronavirus cases within a 24-hour period on 18 November, seven times the number of cases in one day compared to the first wave. As of 18 January, Luxembourg has seen its daily average of new cases drop to about 130 from about 700 in mid-December.

But it has third highest number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Europe, according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC).

If that rate didn’t fall below 500 new cases every 24 hour, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel stated a partial lockdown could begin in late November that would last till late December. It didn’t, and he did. The lockdown just ended.

There were only four total deaths in July and 10 in August. There were no coronavirus-related deaths recorded between 17 August and 1 October, but that streak ended. There were about 30 deaths recorded in October, 130 for November and about the same for December.

RTL has interactive graphs documenting everything from infection rates to number of people in intensive care.


Luxembourgish officials stated on 17 October that they would not impose new measures, then promptly imposed new measures a week later, rules that were updated 26 December and in effect until 10 January.

They include:

• non-essential shops that shops that do not sell food, medicine and essential items, will be closed. Restaurants and cafes will still be allowed to make deliveries and provide takeaway food.

• Hotels remain open and may offer room service.

• a requirement that if more than four people gather, everyone must wear masks. That’s outside the home. Inside the home, you’re only allowed to host two people.

• a curfew between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

• a reduction of the people allowed for gatherings to four from 10.

• cancellation of sporting events except for the semi-professional football league. Group sports with more than four are prohibited, but this rule does not apply to school activities, elite athletes and senior national teams. Fitness rooms, swimming pools, indoor climbing facilities and others are also closed, but outdoor sports facilities remain accessible. Clubs can continue to train (maximum 4 people) on football fields and tracks.

• face masks are still mandatory on all public transport and in indoor public places. Children under the age of six are exempted.

If you get caught, establishments can be fined up to 4,000 euros, while individual fines go up to 500 euros.

Here is the official government page.

The border:

As of 2 January, in addition to PCR tests, rapid antigen tests will be offered free to all passengers arriving at Luxembourg airport.

On 20 December, Luxembourg temporarily banned flights from the UK.

Luxembourg’s borders are open to European visitors, although travel from outside Europe is banned until 31 December at the earliest. It is also allowing visitors from the countries recommended by the EU.

Anyone traveling to the Grand-Duchy from most non-EU countries will have to present a negative test for Covid-19 taken no later than 48 hours before the flight.

The Netherlands and Germany have put Luxembourg back on travel blacklists. Anyone entering Germany has to provide a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for two weeks.

A negative coronavirus test must not be more than 48 hours old. Also on the list of high-risk countries and regions are several French departments, and the Belgian region around Brussels.

Arrivals from Luxembourg to the UK must self-isolate for 14 days.


Country profile:

Unlike their German neighbors, the Dutch just aren’t that into rules. but Lord knows officials tried so the health care system wouldn’t be overloaded with COVID-19 cases.

That didn’t work, to say the least, and the country instituted its first sort-of lockdown (Dutch style) as cases, coronavirus hospital admissions and deaths rose. An earlier decree from Den Haag closed restaurants and cafés and was scheduled to end 15 December. On 13 December, Prime Minister Mark Rutte dashed hopes of a merry Christmas when he added all non-essential retailers and schools to the list of closures in a shutdown that will last into February as the Netherlands didn’t start vaccinating citizens until 6 January.

Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge held a press conference on 12 January to outline what the next stages will be and they include a curfew that goes into effect on 23 January.

Starting in late July, the country entered a severe second wave that just kept getting worse, with 13,032 cases in 24 hours on 20 December, up from as few as 36 cases in early July and almost nine times higher than the previous pandemic peak of 1,300 cases in 24 hours on 10 April. That wave is finally showing signs of retreating, with daily new cases dropping to an average of about 5,500 new cases every 24 hours as of 17 January.

None of this is a surprise. Dutch health officials predicted in September that the Netherlands could see as many as 5,000 cases per 24 hours, a prediction that proved wildly off the mark.

A lot of this is due the rate of testing increasing 10-fold. Unlike the UK, the Netherlands has no shortages of COVID-19 testing kits or healthcare personnel. Health Minister Hugo de Jonge has said the goal is to have a testing capacity increased of 70 thousand people per day.

The trouble is, deaths have increased as well. The Netherlands recorded 62 deaths for the month of August. That more than doubled to about 150 total for September, then tripled to about 750 deaths reported for October. For November, there were about 1,800 reported. That trend is receding slightly, with about 1,750 deaths reported in December though there was spike of 176 on 6 January.

The rules:

Effective 23 January, the Netherlands is the latest country to impose a nighttime curfew – from 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. The fine is 95 euros if you get caught out without a seriously good excuse, such as work or caring for people. Passengers starting or completing an international trip are also exempt. 

The creative Dutch have already found ways around the curfew, which has a clause permitting dog owners to walk their canine friends.

The Netherlands has had Europe’s most dramatic rise in coronavirus infection rates, with cases in the second week of October rising 60 percent over the previous week.

Rules include a limit of one visitor in homes (not counting children under 13).

In a major blow to everyone’s morale, Dutch nightclubs will be closed until there’s a vaccine. Bummer ….

You can see the official Dutch COVID page here.

The borders:

The Netherlands has banned all flights and ferries from the United Kingdom effective 23 January.

PM Rutte has decreed that travel abroad for all but essential reasons should be avoided up to mid-March. “The risks and uncertainties are too great,” the prime minister said. “We will also ask our neighbouring countries to make sure their people do the same.”

That said, the borders are open though everyone arriving at ports of entry – including Schiphol Airport – from outside the EU must prove they’ve tested negative for COVID-19.

The Netherlands is on the UK’s quarantine list, with all arrivals isolating for 14 days. Brits arriving in the Netherlands do not face quarantine.

People arriving from these countries/regions are asked (but not legally required) to self-quarantine for 10 days:

  • Andorra
  • Aruba
  • Austria: Innsbruck and Vienna
  • Belgium: the city of Antwerp, Brussels-Capital Region, provinces of Liège and Walloon Brabant
  • Bonaire
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark: city of Copenhagen and the city of Odense
  • France: Paris, the departments of Bouches-du-Rhône, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-et-Marne, Essonne, Val-d’Oise, Yvelines, Sarthe, Rhône, Gironde, Haute-Garonne, Gard, Var, Vaucluse, Hérault, Alpes-Maritimes and Loiret, Côte-d’Or, Seine-Maritime, Nord, Corse-du-Sud, Haute Corse, l’Ain, Ille-et-Vilaine, Isère, Loire, Loire-Atlantique, Maine-et-Loire, Pas-de-Calais, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Pyrénées-Orientales, Tarn-et-Garonne, Aveyron, Bas-Rhin, Haute-Marne, Indre-et-Loire, Landes, Marne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Seine-Maritime, Tarn, Vienne, Ariège, Aube, Charente, Doubs, Gers, Haute Loire, Haues-Pyrénées, Haute Vienne, Oise, Somme and Saône et Loire. 
  • Greece: all Greek islands. The Peloponnese and the Greek mainland are excluded.  
  • Hungary: Budapest
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Portugal: Area Metropolitana de Lisboa and Leziria do Tejo
  • Romania
  • St Maarten
  • Spain, including the Balearic Islands of Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera and the Canary Islands of Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa among others.
  • Switzerland: Cantons of Geneva, Freiburg and Vaud

A covid testing station is in place at Schiphol Airport to test both arrivals and departures. If you test positive upon arrival, or refuse testing, you’ll be required to quarantine for 14 days, though just who enforces this is not clear.

Otherwise, all border are open as of 18 June. Tourists from EU or Schengen countries are welcome, anyone coming from the UK “is strongly advised to go into quarantine for 14 days.” However, the Netherlands has lifted the quarantine requirement for Sweden.


Country profile:

Unlike Sweden next door, Norway instituted strict coronavirus measures on 12 March, the strictest since World War II. As a result, researchers found there were no “excess deaths” – deaths above the expected number, based on previous years – in Norway during the first wave of the pandemic. During that time, 90 percent of coronavirus deaths happened among people with underlying conditions.

With intense testing of hundreds of thousands of residents and a small population, Norway has recorded about 58,700 cases and 517 deaths as of 18 January. That includes an historic high of 935 new cases recorded in 24 hours on 5 January.

There were nine deaths recorded during the month of August, 10 in September, seven in October, then increasing to 50 for November and 84 in December including an historic peak of 26 on 13 January.

With multiple COVID-19 vaccines coming on the market, Norway will make them free to citizens. But Norwegian officials are concerned about 29 deaths in people over 80 who got the Pfizer vaccine.

Norway can afford to because financial analysts are projecting its and that of neighboring Sweden to make the fastest post-pandemic recoveries of the advanced countries.

The rules:

Beginning 10 November, new pandemic measures – termed “social closure” – go into effect including bars and businesses serving alcohol, gyms and cinemas closing in Oslo. Restaurants, however, remain open. They just can’t serve booze after midnight. All socializing outside homes is forbidden with the exceptions of funerals.

Stores and malls remain open, but must enforce social distancing.

On 26 October, the maximum number of attendees for private events outside the home was cut to 50 from 200. Norwegians were told not to host more than five guests.

It wasn’t until 14 August that Norwegian authorities required people to wear face masks while using public transportation in and around Olso after a second wave of infections and deaths. Sure enough, that wave has already plateaued as of 1 October.

Now masks are mandatory in Oslo.

The border:

These are the rules for arrivals from the UK:

  • A PCR Covid-19 is required within one day after arrival, then again seven days after arrival from the UK
  • Registration with authorities required on arrival
  • Registration required with local municipality at destination in Norway
  • Current exemptions from arrival quarantine do not apply to travellers from the UK, though some exemptions may further apply to this

Norway requires a negative PCR tests for everyone coming from a Covid-19 high-risk country, as designated red by the ECDC, and the quarantine is 10 days in a designated hotel.

Any non-residents entering the country must now show a negative Covid-19 test taken in the previous 72 hours or quarantine.

Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges citizens to avoid non-essential travel to:

Belgium, Andorra, Bulgaria, France, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Iceland, Croatia, Italy, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Monaco, the Netherlands, Malta, Portugal, Poland, San Marino, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, Spain, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Vatican City State, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Norwegian officials reopened its borders 15 July to EU and EEA countries and even Sweden. Officials have announced all countries that were previously marked green on the travel advisory have now been marked yellow after increased infections in several of the “green countries”.

The border with Russia is likely to remain closed at least until the end 2020.


Country profile:

Portugal, along with Denmark and Greece, came through the first months of the coronavirus with flying colors. Business Insider has a post about how Portugal shares a border with Spain, yet had a COVID-19 death toll 30 times lower.

Had ….

After a low of 98 new cases reported on 11 May, Portugal had a severe second wave with daily confirmed new cases averaged more than 4,000 per day for December. New cases every 24 hours just peaked at almost 15,000 on 20 January in a third wave. As a result, the healthcare system is on the verge of collapse, according to Reuters. Deaths in 24 hours spiked on 22 January at 234, eight times higher than the worst day of the first wave.

There were a total of about 70 deaths in August, then 125 in September. There were about 500 deaths in October more than tripling to about 1,800 recorded in November. There were about 1,500 total deaths in December, but the death toll has already risen to 1,900 for January as of the 17th.

The rules:

Portugal is under a state of emergency extended from Christmas to at least 14 February with everything shut down but essential stores. Restaurants are only allowed to do carry-out. There’s a ban on travel between municipalities and public gatherings and in some cases, a 1 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

Shops must close by 8 p.m. on weekdays. On weekends, shops must close at 1 p.m. though supermarkets and food shops can stay open until 5 p.m. You can see all the rules here on Portugal’s official Covid-19 page.

As early as 26 October, Portuguese officials said stricter pandemic restrictions might be coming as the number of COVID-19 patients is near record levels … and ICUs are at 50-percent capacity. (Prior to the pandemic, Portugal had the lowest number of critical-care beds in Europe, according to Reuters.)

Masks now are compulsory in the workplace.

The borders:

Flights to and from the are suspended as of 23 January.

A number of countries including the UK have Portugal on their “red lists,” requiring new arrivals to quarantine. Anyone arriving in Scotland from Portugal must quarantine for 14 days, with more restrictions on the way.

Portugal ended flight restrictions to destinations outside the Schengen Area on 15 June.

The land border with Spain opened 1 July, which is when flights from Spain and Italy resumed. But as noted above, Portugal remains on the UK’s list of countries from where arrivals must quarantine for 14 days.


Country profile:

After an impressive recovery last summer, Spain is back in trouble, struggling desperately with a third wave of infections far exceeding rates in the early days of the pandemic as the country passed the 2.25 million cases mark. Since 1 August, the number of new cases every 24 hours has averaged about 16,000 with a fall spike of about 28,000 cases on 27 October. Those were the good old days.

Spain just set an historic record on 21 January with more than 44,000 new cases in 24 hours – four times as high as the peak of the first wave back in March and April, 2020.

But as with Portugal, it’s the death rate that’s defined this second wave, which which has never come close to matching the first wave, which reached 1,000 per 24 hours on 1 April.

There were more than 2,000 deaths in September and 267 reported in 24 hours on 27 October alone. There were bout 3,200 total deaths reported in October and about 6,700 in November including a peak of 537 on 24 November.

For December, the COVID-19 death toll dropped to 4,000, but have reached 2,000 for January as of the 17th.

Spain has the fourth-highest number of deaths in Europe at about 55,441, behind France, Italy and the UK.

Spanish officials concede data collection is so flawed that no one really knows how many new cases and deaths are occurring daily. The situation has gotten so dire that most Christmas celebrations – some of which date back millenia – were cancelled in this heavily Roman Catholic country.

The rules:

Spanish officials relaxed COVID rules for Christmas, which was a mistake. Now they’re tightening restrictions again as cases continue to soar in a third wave of the pandemic.

Twenty six municipalities are closing pretty much everything including regional borders to anything but essential travel. El Pais has the details here. Madrid, Aragón and Castilla y León have announced tighter restrictions.

Curfew begin at 10 p.m. and businesses must close by 9 p.m., including food and drink establishments. 

Meetings are limited to four people, at this point, though there are likely to be additional restrictions announced, a situation expected to last into May. El Pais in English has the most complete info here.

Nationally, the curfew is from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. and masks must be worn at all times in public but that could change with a change to 8 p.m. Aragon introduced capacity limits at bars and restaurants and banned the sale of alcohol in shops between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. At least 22 other municipalities across Spain have also have new restrictions including the entire cities of León and Palencia in Castile-León region.

Masks were already required in public where social distancing is impossible: “Using masks will be compulsory on the street, in open spaces and any closed place of public use, when it is not possible to maintain a safe distance of at least two metres,” according to new law. You can see the latest information on the Ministry of Health website here.

The borders:

From CNN:

All travelers must complete a Health Control Form (HCF), which can be completed via the Spain Travel Health website or app. It will generate a QR code which must be shown on arrival in the country. Travelers arriving from ‘risk’ countries, based on guidelines from the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) for essential reasons must also undertake a PCR test within 72 hours of departure and show proof of a negative result on entry.

Travelers from the EU, Australia, China, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand and Uruguay are all allowed to enter Spain without having to undergo quarantine. However, arrivals from the UK are restricted until 6 January.

This list of risk countries changes like daily, so check before flying off to Spain.


Country profile

Sweden has officially joined the rest of Europe, with an accelerating infection rate, though daily new infections and deaths are declining. Well, more like falling off the cliff, declining to 3 on 14 January from a peak of 70 on 25 November. As of 18 January, the country of 10 million had reported about 523,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and 10,300 deaths.

After a quiet summer, things turned ugly with Sweden – like every other country in Europe – entering a second COVID-19 wave, with the country reporting one of the worst rates of infection.

On 7 August, daily new cases dropped to about 41, but the average for September through October was about 1,800 new cases every 24 hours. Sweden recorded as few as 106 new cases on 13 September before the infection rate spiked to 11,387 new cases every 24 hours on 23 December.

Sweden recorded about 36 total deaths in August, 35 for September and about 36 total for October. Then deaths in November increased more than 9 times times from October to 300, with December’s toll rising to about 640.

So far in January, the death toll is about 450 as of the 15th.

One number really tells the story – Sweden has 1,019 coronavirus deaths per million inhabitants, compared to 95 per million in Norway, 296 per million in Denmark and 111 per million in Finland.

Sweden chose to protect its economy rather than its population … and that approach is working, with Sweden in better economic shape than the rest of Europe, according to HSBC.

Every major media outlet in the world has parsed the Swedish approach, which resulted in more infections and deaths that in neighboring Scandinavian countries, but fewer than in countries that had lockdowns such as Italy and Spain.

Now, as of mid-December, the media all have headlines quoting Prime Minister Stefan Lofven saying Swedish officials underestimated the virulency of the virus, with hospital ICUs now at capacity. And an increasing number of people advocating a lockdown.

The rules:

Sweden finally has a new law that gives the government the power to institute pandemic rules such as shutting down retail and public transportation, according to Reuters. The law, which went into effect on 10 January, has not been invoked but its available if authorities want to finally intervene after leaving it to Swedes to voluntarily observe social distancing and other precautions.

On 18 December, Swedish officials finally asked Swedes to wear masks on public transport at peak times. They’re also asking people to work from home and even putting restrictions on the number of people in bars and restaurants – a maximum of eight people at any table. Now, alcohol sales are prohibited after 8 p.m. through 7 February, though bars, cafés and restaurants are open. Stockholm has reintroduced a ban on people visiting elderly care homes.

Sweden left its schools, gyms, cafes, bars, and restaurants open throughout the pandemic. Instead, the government has urged citizens to act responsibly and follow social distancing guidelines.

Sweden has opted for a calmer – and highly controversial – approach led by the state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell. Instead of draconian lockdown, social distancing is a matter of self-regulation, according to the Guardian.

According to Bloomberg News, analysts believe that in refusing to close down businesses, the Swedish economy could have an easier time rebounding economically than countries that have shuttered businesses completely. However, Denmark’s “pigs and pills” (pharmaceuticals and agriculture) economy is in better shape than Sweden’s, with its heavy reliance on the auto sector, aviation and precision manufacturing.

The borders:

On 20 December, Sweden banned entry to people from the UK and Denmark until 21 January.

The UK renewed its quarantine requirement on 6 November for anyone arriving from Sweden. Norway is now warning its citizens not to travel to Sweden.

Sweden had only had restrictions on some non-EU citizens, but that’s changing.


Country profile:

Partly due to its proximity to early virus hotspots in Northern Italy, the COVID-19 pandemic had a fast and furious effect on this Alpine country. The Swiss instituted nation-wide rules relatively late in the game, with schools closed and and gatherings of more than 100 banned.

Now that fast-and-furious cycle is repeating itself with a second, far-worse wave of infections and deaths persisting into 2021 though the infection rate has fallen dramatically to about 2,000 cases per day as of 15 January from 22,000 in early November. Still, Swiss officials are imposing much tougher new restrictions as of 18 January.

Switzerland reported the start of a massive new wave of daily cases rising from a few hundred per day in September to 21,962 in 24 hours on 2 November with increasing hospital admissions. While the infection rate is declining as of 15 January to an average of about 2,000 daily new cases, deaths are not. (See the chart above.)

Swiss officials are reporting a dramatic rise in deaths … about 1,550 for all of November, at least 2,400 for December and about 900 for January as of the 15th. That’s compared with about 22 deaths in August, about 70 in September and about 142 total in October.

The rules:

Starting 18 January, Swiss officials are closing all non-essential stores and asking companies to require employees to work from home whenever possible. Gatherings are restricted to five people, but schools remain open.

Starting 9 January, restaurants, bars, cultural venues and sports facilities are shut through February though ski facilities remain open.

The number of people who can be inside stores is now limited and those stores must close after 7 p.m. and stay closed on Sundays and public holidays. The federal government is leaving it to the 26 cantons to decide whether to close ski resorts, so most are still open.

As of 1 December, masks are compulsory outdoors; indoor gatherings of more than 10 people are banned;and no more than four people can sit together in a bar or restaurant unless they are related and live together. Masks are mandatory in indoor public places including shops, banks, churches and cinemas. An order to wear masks on public transport has been extended to cover train stations, airports, bus and tram stops across all of Switzerland.

Some cantons are imposing stricter measures including Basel, Geneva and Jura.

The borders:

Switzerland has banned flights from the UK for the foreseeable future.

Germany has added all of Switzerland to its risk list rather than just select cantons. Switzerland is cutting a number of cross-border trains including five trains to different destinations in Italy and the TGV service between France and Geneva.

Switzerland requires people arriving from the Netherlands to self-quarantine for 10 days. Also, people arriving from Brittany (France), Liguria (Italy), Upper and Lower Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ecuador, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Portugal, Slovenia and the United Kingdom must self-quarantine.

Switzerland has imposed a 10-day quarantine on people arriving from nine of 13 French regions, including Île-de-France around Paris. Travellers coming from Vienna also must quarantine. Spain was already on the list, which you can see here.

People entering Switzerland from 55 nations must now quarantine for 10 days. These include Croatia and San Marino in Europe. On 7 September 2020, 8 nations were removed from the list including Belgium and Luxembourg.


Country profile:

The United Kingdom was the first country to approve Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, with innoculations speeding up across England, Wales and Scotland. That’s the good news. The bad news is, researchers have found a new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 that’s possibly more dangerous. So nearly every country in Europe has shut its borders to arrivals from the UK.

The second lockdown expired 2 December, but a third nationwide lockdown is in effect as of 6 January – one that is likely to be in place into March … and possibly into summer, 2021.

With more than 87,300 deaths as of 15 January, UK has the highest number of deaths in Europe, passing Italy in mid-January. The UK also has Europe’s third-highest rate of death per million in population behind Belgium and the Czech Republic.

The UK’s trend lines were favorable until a second pandemic wave hit. Daily new cases averaged about 1,100 per day for August from a one-day high of almost 8,700 on 10 April, then shot up to an historic high of more than 68,000 cases in 24 hours on 8 January. For December, the infection rate was five times as high at the height of the first wave, with patients pouring into hospitals.

Deaths have spiked in a second wave of infection, with well over 1,000 for July and more than 150 in August, then 430 deaths recorded in September. For all of October, the UK recorded about 2,900 COVID-19 related deaths. That increased more than four times to about 13,400 deaths recorded in total for November, and 14,500 deaths in December. December’s total is projected to more than triple this month taking the UK over the 100,000 deaths mark.

The historic high in daily deaths is 1,820, recorded on 20 January.

Bottom line: Boris Johnson has pretty much united the country in that no one – left, right or center – except for Carrie Symonds thinks he’s doing a good job or understands exactly what his pandemic approach even is as he’s jumped from one complicated and contradictory policy to the next.

CNN has a deep dive into what has gone wrong, which includes pretty much everything from lack of protective gear for healthcare workers to the virus rampaging through care homes.

The rules:

The third lockdown is here, along with new rules across the UK as of 6 January.

  • People cannot leave their homes. Exceptions including getting essential medical needs, food shopping, helping those who can’t fend exercise and work for those who can’t work from home.
  • All schools and unis are close though daycares and nurseries remain open. End-of-year exams will not take place this summer.
  • Restaurants can offer food delivery, but takeaway alcohol is banned.
  • Outdoor sports venues such as golf courses, tennis courts and outside gyms are close, though outdoor playgrounds are open.
  • Amateur team sports are not allowed, but elite sport such as Premier League football continue to play without crowds.

The borders:

On 15 January, UK officials announced all travel corridors will close from Monday, 18 January, meaning everyone arriving by plane, train or boat must self-isolate up to 10 days through mid-February.

Also on 15 January, the UK banned for passengers arriving from destinations across South (and Central) America, Portugal, Panama and Cape Verde. You can see that order here.

All travellers to England and Scotland from overseas must test negative for coronavirus no more than 72 hours before departure before they are allowed to enter the country or face a 500 pound fine.

If you’re in the UK and trying to get to Europe, forget it. At least 40 countries have banned flights from the UK after a new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 was discovered in England.

As of 15 December, the UK will cut its quarantine period to five days from 14 if you get a COVID-19 test, which will set you back somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 pounds.

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