Travel bans lifted: Vacations possible in 16 EU countries; Optimism outside EU

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs relaxed its travel advice for 16 European countries on Monday. The advice went from code orange, which "advises against all unnecessary trips", to code yellow, which warns that there may be safety risks and travelers should be vigilant.

From today, Dutch residents can go on holiday in Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Estonia, France, Iceland, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, and Switzerland. France is new to the list. The country relaxed coronavirus measures on Monday, to allow cafes and restaurants to open more and tourism to restart. According to Statistics Netherlands, about a million Netherlands residents vacation in France per year.

"The guidelines are also expected to be relaxed this summer for some countries outside Europe. This will be done as much as possible in consultation with other EU countries," the Dutch government said in a statement. No country was specified in the statement, and for the time being, travel advice for outside Europe will also stay at 'code orange.'

Foreign Affairs expects that more European countries will be added to the 'code yellow' list this week. Austria plans to open its borders to European, and therefore Dutch, holidaymakers on Tuesday, for example. Greece is allowing people from the Netherlands, but they will be tested on arrival and quarantined for a day. If they test positive for the coronavirus, they will be quarantined for 14 days. After July 1, travelers arriving in Greece can all be tested at random.

Travel advice for the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark is expected to remain at 'code orange' throughout the summer, which means holiday trips to these countries are not recommended. 

Minister Stef Blok of Foreign Affairs is pleased, but warns that the risks are not over. "Holidaying abroad, it is possible again," he said. "But it's not going to be as carefree as it was before the corona crisis, because the risks remain. The virus is still among us and the situation remains uncertain."

He warned holidaymakers to take note of and adhere to all coronavirus measures in place in the countries where they are going. "Travel wisely and prepare well," he said.

Blok was set to discuss the issue with passengers at Schiphol Airport on Monday before he picks up French politician Amélie De Montchalin at the Amsterdam airport. Blok will sit with Frances economic affairs state secretary in The Hague to discuss European economic recovery.