Coronavirus travel advice for 10 popular destinations in Europe
Coronavirus European countries
President Trump announced on 12 March 2020 that many flights from Europe to the US are banned for 30 days. The ban has also been extended to flights from the UK and Ireland. In light of this, the following advice is applicable to visitors planning to travel to Europe outside the US. Please note, that the following information is based on official news sources and the World Health Organization (WHO).
It’s the current buzzword that has infiltrated our lives, the media and every waking conservation: the Coronavirus.
Gatecrashing its way around the world, it’s clear that the Coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon.
So, what does that mean for your travel plans? Here, in Europe, many airlines are cancelling flights, quickly dashing the vacation dreams of many of its passengers.
If you’ve upcoming plans to visit the continent soon, read on. Here is the status* of these 10 popular European destinations.
The southern European country currently holds the title of having the highest numbers of Coronavirus cases in Europe. According to worldometers.info, there are over 27,000* total cases and over 1,000 deaths recorded.
On 9 March 2020, Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, put the entire country on lockdown. People have been advised to stay at home in an attempt to stop further spreading of the virus.
More measures — Coronavirus European countries
A second initiative has been put into place to close all shops, aside from food shops and pharmacies.
At the time of writing, any unnecessary travel to Italy isn’t advised. The country’s health services are severely stretched, and to consider visiting right now would be irresponsible.
We’ve also put our own travel plans to return to Sicily on hold, and will closely follow the daily updates.
Travel to Italy is not advised
Another southern European country feeling the effects of Coronavirus is Spain. The number of cases isn’t as high as Italy, but the current figures places them at number 2.
Almost half of the country’s cases are in Madrid. Rioja and the Basque country are the two other worst hit areas. Schools and universities are closed, and on 12 March, museums and archives in Madrid were also closed. Major events like the Fallas festival in Valencia have also been cancelled.
On 15 March 2020, the government announced a Italy-style lockdown. All non-essential shops, bars, restaurants and movie theaters have been closed, and residents are being asked to stay indoors. Only buying food, medicine or going to work or the bank is allowed.
The land of good beer, bratwurst and one of the coolest capitals in Europe. Germany currently ranks as the European country with the third highest number of cases (over 7,000*).
Passengers arriving from Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea or China will be subject to some travel restrictions.
If traveling from any of these countries by plane, ship or bus, you’ll need to provide personal details on arrival. These will be kept on a disembarkation card. You need to be contactable for 30 days after, in case the German authorities need to talk to you.
Affected areas — Coronavirus European countries
North Rhine-Westphalia, where Cologne is located, has the highest number of cases.*
On Monday 16 March 2020, Germany introduced border controls with bordering countries. Only travelers with a valid reason, such as citizens or workers can enter at this time. Everything is closed except for food stores, pharmacies and banks. Any kind of mass gathering has been cancelled.
The German city of Cologne is in one of the country’s worst-hit regions
“Gatecrashing its way around the world, it’s clear that the Coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon.”
Hopes of exploring the streets of Paris and enjoying a freshly baked croissant have to be put on hold. On 16 March 2020, the government placed the country on lockdown to try and contain the spread.
Like Spain, France has also closed all non-essential shops, bars and restaurants. The same applies to all schools, universities, parks and gardens.
From 17 March 2020, France’s borders will be closed. French citizens, however, are able to return home.
Disney also recently announced that Disneyland Paris would be closed until the end of March 2020.
On the rise — Coronavirus European countries
The Haut-Rhin area in the Grand Est region in north-west France has about 700* cases. To add some context, it’s the area where the colorful town of Colmar is located. The Grand Est region also shares a border with Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium.
The Île-de-France region of the country, in which Paris is located, has over 500* confirmed cases.
The travel restrictions are set to last for about 30 days. If you do have an upcoming trip, you need to think about how any future implications will affect you.
I’d also urge you to think about the possibility of potentially getting ill (unrelated to Coronavirus) while there. Their healthcare system, as for many countries, is under strain for caring for its own citizens. Being a responsible traveler also means considering your impact on the system.
Postpone your travel plans to France — Coronavirus European countries
Switzerland has over 2,000* cases. Given the scale of the spread, the government announced a state of emergency on Monday 16 March 2020. It’s set to last until 19 April.
Festivals and events have been cancelled, and all shops, markets, restaurants and bars have been closed. All kinds of attractions from museums to ski resorts are also closed until further notice.
Its national airline, Swiss International Airlines, has reduced or cancelled flights to areas with a high risk of infection. Switzerland has tightened its borders with neighboring Germany, France and Austria and Italy.
Borders still open — Coronavirus European countries
Switzerland’s national train service is also running a reduced service.
The canton of Ticino has the highest number of cases.* It shares the border with the Italian region of Lombardy, which is the epicenter of the Coronavirus in Italy.
Lugano is one of the principle cities in Ticino. While in Swiss territory, it’s fair to say that it shares more in common with its Italian neighbors. Its architectural style and cuisine are something more akin to what you’d find next door.
Switzerland is one of the European countries with the highest number of Coronavirus cases
The first of 3 Scandinavian countries on the list, Norway’s also upping its efforts to contain the Coronavirus.
On 12 March, the Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, announced that the country would be on lockdown. This 14-day period will last from 12 to 26 March 2020.
Norway is closed — Coronavirus European countries
Any travelers planning on following through with their trip will face 2 options on arrival in Norway. One, is that you’ll be asked to return to your country of residence. Alternatively, you’ll be placed on a mandatory 14-day quarantine regardless of your health status.
Along with schools, kindergartens and universities, ski resorts and museums in Norway are also closed. The only restaurants that will remain open are the ones that can keep customers a meter apart. Buffets are a big no!
You can keep up to date with the latest measures on Coronavirus in Norway by checking the Visit Norway page.
Norway has shut its doors — Coronavirus European countries
Compared to its Scandinavian neighbors, Sweden hasn’t enforced a country lockdown, despite having over 1,000* confirmed cases.
Some schools have shut, where there have been cases of infected people, but it’s not across board.
While the government advises its citizens against traveling to Iran, China and Italy, it appears that Sweden’s borders are open.
However, as with all the countries on this list, this could be subject to change. If you do have an upcoming trip to Sweden, I’d encourage you to get travel insurance before going.
Make sure that it covers — as much as possible — any eventuality, for example, medical expenses and cancelled flights.
Sweden hasn’t yet enforced a country lockdown
8. The Netherlands
So far, the Netherlands has recorded over 1,000* cases of Coronavirus. In response, the government has taken several measures, including cancelling gatherings of more than 100 people.
This means that attractions such as museums and theaters will be closed.
Schools and universities, however, remain open as children and young people are not considered as high risk groups.
A city towards the south of the country, Tilburg* has the highest number of cases in the country. At the time of publishing, the Netherlands’ capital, Amsterdam, only reported a number of 11 cases of Coronavirus.
Of course, this is subject to change as efforts to contain the virus continues.
Watch your flight — Coronavirus European countries
The Netherlands’ national carrier, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, has also banned all flights to and from mainland China.
On a positive note, the airline’s allowing passengers to change their booking at no extra cost. This applies to any destination when booking a trip with the airlines.
If you change your ticket to a higher fare type (for example, business class), you’ll have to pay the difference.
Numbers are on the rise in the Netherlands — Coronavirus European countries
With over 900* cases of Coronavirus recorded so far, the government has passed an emergency Coronavirus law.
In short, this gives authorities the right to enforce testing, treatment and quarantine — with police backing. The country has already imposed a lockdown, with many schools and universities closed for 2 weeks.
Danish health authorities have adjusted its regulations on the size restrictions of 100ml hand sanitizers when traveling. At Copenhagen Airport, they’ve also placed more hand sanitizer stations at several checkpoints.
Denmark has banned all flights coming in from northern Italy.
At the time of writing, the UK has more than 1,500* cases of Coronavirus and has recorded 55* deaths.
Like Sweden, the country’s government has yet to enforce stricter measures to try and contain the virus. Its airports remain open, though its national airline, British Airways, has cancelled flights to and from Italy and China.
Life is resuming as normal, though a recent announcement on 16 March 2020 implemented some new changes. The prime minister urged everyone to cut down on essential travel, and to work from home as much as possible. People are being advised to stay home and not to frequent pubs or restaurants. Schools are still open.
Attractions in the capital like the London Eye, and the Natural History Museum remain open — for now.
Public transport in London also continues to operate, though they may soon run by a Saturday timetable. This means a great reduction in the number of services.
At one of the busiest airports in the world, Heathrow has put measures in place to help protect passengers.
They include providing over 200 hand sanitizers in the airport and an increase to its cleaning procedures. On the advice of its body, Public Health England, they aren’t checking passengers’ temperatures.
This is because they don’t consider it to be an effective way of keeping the public safe.
Coronavirus European countries — London is still open, for now
Be smart — Coronavirus European countries
While the current situation isn’t greatly affecting travel plans, I still urge you to take extra precautions. This means following all the safety guidelines that every government in the world is advising us to follow.
In case you haven’t seen the advice, the top 6 ways to protect yourself are:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and for at least 20 seconds
- Use a hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) when you can’t wash your hands
- Don’t touch your face if you haven’t washed your hands
- Sneeze and cough into the crevice of your elbow, away from the direction of others.
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Keep a social distance (about 2 meters) when in public spaces, for example, supermarkets
You should only wear a face mask if you’ve a cough or cold, or even the Coronavirus. They’re rendered useless for generally healthy people, plus right now, are being sold for extortionate prices online.
Did you have plans to visit any of these European countries? What have you decided to do? Go or postpone your travels? Let me know in the comments below.
*numbers correct at time of publishing
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Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience; a demographic (late 20s onwards) that enjoys glamping over camping, staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels, sampling the local food and wine, cultural activities, and indulging in a spot of wellness on their travels. Read more here…