Dutch travel bans, domestic rules to ease up on Monday

Self-Service Passport Control lines at Schiphol Airport
Self-Service Passport Control lines at Schiphol AirportredstoneDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Update: Information about Greece's restrictions was outdated and corrected with more current information.

As the severity of the Covid-19 outbreak in the Netherlands continues to wane, a broad swathe of restrictions in place to curb the spread of the disease will be lifted from Monday. These include measures relating to European Union travel, the use of some common showers and toilet facilities, visitation at old age homes and care facilities, as well as physical classes at institutions of higher learning.

Border restrictions to lift

Holidaymakers will be allowed to cross the border from the Netherlands to a majority of Schengen Area countries from Monday, a travel advisory from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Saturday, with a number of places remaining subject to restrictions for the time being. Similarly, foreign tourists from EU or Schengen Area countries where the health risks are under control are welcome to travel into the Netherlands from Monday, according to the advisory.

The easing of travel restrictions marks three months since European countries began securing their borders in an attempt to halt the advance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, responsible for the Covid-19 disease.

Effective from June 15, a large number of Schengen Area countries will switch from 'Code Orange', meaning only necessary trips are advised to be made, to 'Code Yellow', meaning that cross-border tourism will no longer be advised against. Denmark, the United Kingdom and Sweden will remain on Code Orange for the time being, the Ministry has said.

In addition, a number of countries may prove difficult for Dutch residents to enter for recreational purposes, the advisory cautioned. The Dutch government identified 12 countries in Europe which had specific measures in place either barring border access to people from the Netherlands, or controlling people from the Netherlands more strictly on arrival. The list includes Norway, Spain and Ireland, and also Greece. The latter will test all who arrive from the Netherlands for an active coronavirus infection through through the end of the month. Those passengers will have to self-isolate for one day while they wait for results, and a positive test means they have to remain in quarantine for two weeks.

Despite a switch to Code Yellow, some counties will have health checks of their own in place that the Ministry advises Dutch residents remain aware of. These include Iceland, where inbound tourists will be screened upon arrival, Austria, where the borders will open a day later, on Tuesday, as well as the Czech Republic.

France, which had previously offered no guidance for Dutch tourists specifically, announced on Saturday that they will open up their borders to travellers from Monday, including to travellers from the Netherlands.

Restrictions to ease on bathrooms and shower facilities, care homes and higher learning

Over and above the easing of tourism restrictions, Netherlands residents will also see fewer restrictions on care home visits, and be entitled to visit communal bathrooms and shower facilities belonging to a number of places where they had previously been closed from Monday.

According to a letter from Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge on Thursday, the shared toilets and ablution facilities belonging to outdoor sports centers, high-perfomance sports centers, zoos, amusement parks, public swimming pools and public libraries will be opened to the public from June 15.

In addition, the ban on visitations to old age homes and care facilities will be lifted from Monday except for those where Covid-19 cases remain high. In such places, receiving visitors will remain banned, except for in exceptional situations, wrote De Jonge.

The final major institution to begin to return to normality on Monday is higher education, where lecture halls will be allowed to fill up to a maximum capacity of 20 percent in MBO institutions, applied sciences universities, and research universities. In addition, the hours in which most classes will be held is set to change, with lessons running between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and then again after 8 p.m. to avoid rush hours congestion.