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A Country-by-Country Guide to Reopened Europe: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland

by Packimpex on 8 June 2021

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Countries in the EU are opening their borders to vaccinated travelers and transferees.
This is what you need to know:

After a truly challenging year, a sense of normality is finally returning – especially as borders re-open for travel and relocation. The European Union announced on 26 May that vaccinated travelers would be allowed entry without a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine. This also includes relocating individuals who have received EU-approved vaccines from BioNTech and Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Although the EU aims to take a coordinated approach to these measures, individual countries can set their own requirements and some are already open. Packimpex offers relocation services in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. In this article you will find the latest information about entry requirements and COVID-19 safety measures for transferees and travelers entering these countries.

For the country specific details we could use our online file as basis – of course with updated data:

Belgium

State of the virus

The figures are encouraging, and the trends are definitely positive: at the end of May, infection rates had decreased by 15% and hospital admissions had decreased by 31%.
At the beginning of June, at least 38.9% of the total population had received the first dose of the vaccine (48.6% of the population above the age of 18) and 16% of the population was fully vaccinated. The target of 70% of the population fully vaccinated has not yet been met, but the country is on track and its citizens have responded positively to the invitations, registrations and waiting lists.

Entry requirements

Belgian citizens and EU residents returning to Belgium after being out of the country for at least 48 hours, and who intend on staying longer than 48 hours, are required to fill out a PLF form. Additionally, they need to follow quarantine orders and/or take a COVID-19 test according to the instructions that are sent out after submitting the PLF.
There are some exceptions for business travel abroad, provided the travel meets the conditions listed here: https://bta.belgium.be/en/login

Non-residents coming from a non-EU zone will need to prove that they are travelling for essential reasons in order to be authorised to cross the border. It is strongly recommended to check with the border authorities and the Belgian consulate/embassy in the country of origin to get the latest information on the applicable requirements. In any case, a COVID-19 test no older than 72 hours will be requested upon entry into the country.

Travelers coming from India, South Africa and Brazil are required to quarantine and take a test on the first and seventh days after arrival in Belgium.

Medical facilities

Test and vaccination centres are getting organised and enhancing their operations quickly. They are coordinated by the regional authorities.

  • Getting tested in Brussels? More info here.
  • Getting vaccinated in Brussels? Make an appointment here.
  • Getting tested in Wallonia? More info here.
  • Getting vaccinated in Wallonia? Register here.
  • Getting tested in Flanders? Look up centres here.
  • Getting vaccinated in Flanders? Register here.

Daily life

Since COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions have decreased, the government has lifted some of the restrictions on daily life and social activities. Each household may now have close contact with four adults; people can get together outside in groups of ten; schools and shops are open but masks and social distancing are required; outdoor seating/dining at restaurants and bars is open until 10 p.m., and people may sit together with others from the same household.

Germany

State of the virus

Germany’s risk status was reduced as the country’s nationwide seven-day average remained at just 35 cases per 100,000 people. The country’s benchmark for determining when widespread re-openings can take place is 50 cases per 100,000 people per week.

The Infectious Diseases Protection Act was amended in April to include an “emergency brake”, requiring Germany’s 16 states to enforce uniform restrictions in areas where COVID-19 infection rates surpass 100 cases per 100,000 people per week.

As of the beginning of June, approximately 18% of the population was vaccinated but that figure needs to increase to 80% for Germans to see most restrictions lifted.

Entry requirements

Travelers entering Germany by plane must take a COVID-19 test regardless of if they have spent time in a high-risk country. The negative test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding the plane. There are specific requirements regarding testing and proof of test results as well as mandatory quarantine for travelers entering Germany after spending time in a high-risk country, a high-incidence area, or an area with concerning virus variants. These countries/areas are published on the RKI website.
Regarding quarantine, travelers can avoid this requirement by presenting a negative test result to the correct authority. If you have spent time in a high-incidence area prior to entry, the test result may not be older than 48 hours at the time of entry. Following a stay in an area with concerning virus variants, the quarantine period will not be shortened. Quarantine requirements will be in place until 30 June 2021.

Proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 can replace a negative test result and exempt you from quarantine on entry. This does not apply if you have spent time in an area with concerning virus variants prior to entry.

Travelers entering Germany from an area with concerning virus variants: a travel ban has been put in place for transport companies from those areas. They may not transport people from those areas into Germany via rail, bus, ship or plane.

You can find additional information about quarantine requirements as well as exemptions here.

Anyone entering Germany will need to be registered at the following website unless they are entering the country from a non-risk area.

Medical facilities

COVID-19 testing is done all over Germany. There are many local testing centres. To find a nearby testing centre, check this website.

Daily life

Because the incidence rate was below 100 for more than seven days, Germany is currently in Phase 2. This means restaurants and shops have opened and outdoor dining is allowed when you present a negative test result. The test must be done on the same day.

Once the incidence rate falls below 50 for another seven days, more restrictions will be lifted. Please note that restrictions are lifted locally depending on the numbers in your area.

The Netherlands

State of the virus

As of the beginning of June, the situation in the Netherlands looked very promising regarding the lifting of restrictions. The infection rate has been decreasing for weeks, and as a result, fewer people are being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. More and more people are getting vaccinated. Approximately 9.9 million vaccine doses have been administered (including second doses). The goal is for everyone to have received at least one dose by the end of July.

More information regarding the current state of the virus is available here.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements when travelling into the Netherlands depend on where you are coming from. When you come from “safe countries”, the EU travel ban does not apply and you can enter the country with a negative test result. In these cases, quarantine is not required and nationality and reason for visiting are not considered. More information about “safe countries” is available at this link.

If the country you are travelling from is not on the list, then it is considered high-risk. For up-to-date information about regulations and requirements when travelling to the Netherlands from a high-risk country, please see the checklist at this link.

Medical facilities

In the Netherlands, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) provides information to the public and the government. The vaccination program and COVID-19 testing are coordinated by the public health service, GGD. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should stay home and make an appointment for a COVID-19 test. You can call the national helpline (0800-1202) or visit www.coronatest.nl. You will be assisted by the GGD and given an appointment at a test centre near you.

Daily life

As of 5 June 2021, the Netherlands is in Step 3 of its reopening plan. This means that most locations can re-open, but certain protocols and safety measures are still in place. More information regarding these regulations is available at this link.

Switzerland

State of the virus

The number of new infections continues to drop each week (as of the beginning of June, it had reached its lowest level since October 2020). The vaccine continues to be administered at a rate of around 60,000 to 90,000 per day. As of the beginning of June, approximately 36% of the population has had one dose, but the target is for everyone to receive at least one dose within the next two months. The main concern at the moment seems to be new variants and closing borders to travelers from countries where virus variants have been discovered.

Entry requirements

Details regarding entry requirements remain complex depending on where travelers are coming from and which mode of transportation they are using. Travel by plane requires a COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours but generally, entering the country by car does not.

It is recommended to check this website for any changes to the requirements.

Medical facilities

The Federal Office of Public Health is the best help for all things medical. Rapid testing is available at the airports and some other testing centres. Individual cantons are responsible for more wide-spread testing centres. Home-testing kits can be ordered from your Swiss health insurance provider or picked up at your local pharmacy at no charge.

Hospitals have capacity for new COVID-19 patients. This situation is being closely monitored and hospitals are on high alert in case of another surge.

The SwissCovid app, which has had 2 million downloads, provides helpful information as well as notifications in case you have been in close contact with another app user who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Daily life

At the beginning of June, many restrictions were lifted but the country is not yet fully open. Restaurants and bars are now open for indoor dining. Private gatherings indoors are limited to 30. Masks must be worn in public places, indoors and when using transportation.

Shops are fully open with some limits to the number of people allowed at any given time.

Generally there is a sense of relaxation. Daily life is slowly returning to normal but there are still very few foreign visitors.

Packimpex’s relocation and immigration experts in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland can advise you on a case-by-case basis.  We provide the complete range of both destination services and immigration support in all four countries to companies of all size as well as private individuals.

 

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