The Netherlands is currently seeing a surge in Covid cases, which has led ministers to impose a strict lockdown to reduce the impact on the country’s hospitals.
Locals have been advised to stay at home as much as possible, and only essential businesses such as supermarkets and pharmacies are allowed to open.
In addition, quarantine has been imposed on British travelers, with only vaccinated visitors allowed to enter the Netherlands.
This affects travel to popular winter destinations in the city, such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as everyday life in these vacation spots comes to a standstill for locals and tourists alike.
So what does this mean for vacations and city breaks in the next two months?
Here’s everything we know so far.
What are the current Covid-related restrictions?
From December 19, the Netherlands will be in a national lockdown again.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the measures on December 18, saying a full lockdown was “inevitable with the fifth wave and with Omicron spreading even faster than we feared.
“Omicron forces us to limit the number of contacts as quickly as possible, which is why the Netherlands is locked. [down],” he added.
Bars, restaurants and non-essential shops — along with theatres, cinemas and cultural venues — were closed from December 19, with the government saying it would remain until at least January 14, while schools would be closed until January 9.
Dutch residents were allowed four guests in each household on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, while visitors were allowed a maximum of two guests for the rest of the lockdown.
The maximum group size for people who gather outside is two, unless it is a larger group, such as a family living in the same house.
Reports in the Dutch media suggest that the lockdown will be eased slightly from January 15, allowing non-essential shops, salons and gyms with limited capacity to open.
College and university students will be able to return to their teaching places, but otherwise little is reported to change.
The Dutch government is expected to make an announcement on the final restrictions on January 14.
While tourists won’t be completely banned from entering the Netherlands, this will be a big hit for leisure and vacations, with visitors unable to eat out or enjoy many of the country’s top attractions as normal.
Tourism advice on the website of the national government reads: “The current advice is to stay at home as much as possible. If you decide to go on a short vacation or visit family 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 if you are traveling from the UK?
For vaccinated travelers:
Fully vaccinated travelers can enter the country, but since December 22 they must self-isolate for 10 days after arrival.
This can be reduced by taking a test on day five – if the result is negative, you will be taken out of quarantine early.
“From December 22, all travelers from the UK, regardless of their vaccination status or possession of a negative test, will be required to undergo 10 days of home quarantine on arrival. This period can be shortened to five days if the traveler receives a negative test result from the Dutch authorities (GGD) on day five,’ is the current advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Travelers with double shots must also have a negative Covid test result to show on arrival, along with their vaccination certificate.
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 prior to departure
Two weeks after your second vaccination dose (or four weeks after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) you are considered fully vaccinated in the Netherlands.
When you come out of your isolation you will be subject to the same lockdown rules as the locals.
These include not being able to eat out or visit attractions, and only be able to visit friends in groups of two — or meet someone from another household outside the home, on a one-on-one basis.
The self-isolation rule is based on the fact that the UK is on the Dutch list of “high-risk areas”, so the rules could relax in the short term if the country is removed from that list.
For unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers:
Travelers who have not been fully vaccinated will need an essential reason to enter the Netherlands from December 22.
Here’s a list of essential reasons for travelers without a double jab.
If an unvaccinated traveler has an essential reason, they will also be required to self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival and adhere to local Covid restrictions.
Unvaccinated people with an essential reason to enter must also complete a quarantine statement and take a Covid test on the day of arrival, and again on day five after arrival.
Are there any other rules in the field?
Museums, bars and restaurants will remain closed, even after the relaxation of the rules on January 15. Essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies are open but close at 8pm.
With regard to movement, face masks must be worn in public transport, at stations and on platforms by people over 13. If you don’t wear a face mask as prescribed, you could be fined €95 (£81).
You must also keep 1.5 meters away from other people in public areas.
Children under 13 do not have to wear a face mask.
How long will the restrictions last?
With restrictions on shops, salons and gyms easing on January 15, it is unclear how long catering establishments will remain closed and citizens are being urged to stay at home.
The number of hospitals improved slightly in early January, but with cases still high – 30,000 people a day tested positive in the week to January 13 – Dutch virologists have instructed ministers to be cautious about lifting the restrictions completely.
The December shutdown came on top of existing restrictions in place since November 28 – from that date, bars, restaurants and other public meeting places such as theaters and cinemas were required to close at 5 p.m., a measure the government may reverse into January.
Any announcement on January 14 about the reopening of non-essential stores will likely include an update on when the broader lockdown rules can be revised or lifted.