5758 Europe is reinstating a host of Covid-19 restrictions over the holidays

Europe is reinstating a host of Covid-19 restrictions over the holidays

Travelers walk past a sign for unvaccinated passengers at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on December 14.
Travelers walk past a sign for unvaccinated passengers at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on December 14. (Nathan Laine/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

As Covid-19 cases continue to rise across Europe, many countries have reinstated certain restrictions over the holidays.

Here are the key things to know:


France imposed restrictions on travelers entering the country from the United Kingdom, to slow the arrival of the Omicron coronavirus variant. Only essential travel from the UK to France is allowed, regardless of vaccination status. The travel restrictions were enforced starting Dec. 18.

France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Dec. 17 that big outdoor events and gatherings will be banned on New Year’s Eve. This includes the consumption of alcohol in public spaces and the cancellation of fireworks and concerts.

France reported 91,608 new Covid infections on Thursday, an all-time high since the beginning of the pandemic.


Spain has reinstated its nationwide mandate for wearing masks outdoors — with exceptions for sports and large areas — from Christmas Eve, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced Wednesday.

Meanwhile regionally, some governments are tightening restrictions even more, with Murcia banning non-essential activity from Dec. 24 until Jan. 14, according to the regional government’s news release.

In Catalonia, leaders are imposing a curfew from 1 a.m. until 6 a.m., closing night time venues and limiting social gatherings to 10 people, according to the release.

The measures will affect municipalities of over 10,000 residents with an incidence rate of 250 per 100,000 since Dec. 17. They are set to last for 15 days, from Christmas Eve. 


Nightclubs will be closed and people will be banned from eating in public squares from Dec. 30 to Jan. 31, according to a government news release. On Friday, the outdoor mask mandate returned and the use of the Covid pass will be expanded from Feb. 1.


Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a strict lockdown starting Dec. 19. Indoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of two guests until Jan. 14, except on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when that limit is extended to four guests. All schools and extracurricular activities will also close until at least Jan. 9. 


Belgium will cancel indoor events and activities, including indoor Christmas markets and villages, cinema screenings and shows, starting Dec. 26, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a news conference. Those measures extend to indoor spaces of amusement parks and zoos. However, some activities such as weddings and funerals will still be allowed. Museums and gyms will be kept open.


Germany will impose strict contact restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 starting on Dec. 28 and prohibit New Year’s Eve gatherings. A maximum of 10 people will be allowed to meet in groups, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or recovered. Private meetings for unvaccinated people are limited to two additional people per household for both indoor and outdoor activities, the government announced.

Unvaccinated people may use public transport only with a daily negative Covid-19 test.

Nightclubs in Germany will remain closed.

Football matches will once again be played without spectators. Germany’s health minister said he will not rule out a hard lockdown if the number of cases keeps rising.


Only those with vaccine passports or proof of recovery are permitted inside restaurants and indoor event spaces starting Dec. 20, and masks must be worn at all times unless consuming food or drink.

Private gatherings are limited to 10 people if they include anyone age 16 and older who is unvaccinated or has not recovered from Covid-19. In settings where it is not possible to wear a mask or apply a seating requirement, admission will be limited to vaccinated or recovered persons, who must also present a negative test result. This rule applies to bars and clubs, but also to amateur sporting and cultural activities. Only people who have been fully vaccinated, received a booster or recovered from Covid-19 within the last four months do not have to take a further test.


The 10 p.m. closing time will be imposed on the hospitality sector as of Dec. 27 and will remain in place on New Year’s Eve. Christmas markets admission will only be for vaccinated and/or recovered people.

FFP2 (filtering face piece) masks are mandatory in many areas. Proof of vaccination or recovery is required to enter hotels, restaurants, leisure centers, gyms, cultural institutions, Christmas markets, ski lifts/cable cars and body-related services, such as salons.

Restaurants, cafés and bars have a curfew at 11 p.m., with the exception of New Year’s Eve. Bars and clubs remain closed for the time being. Après-ski is not possible.


Denmark announced the closure of cinemas, theaters and museums, while also prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and asking hospitality venues to shut earlier. Those restrictions are now in effect.


Schools, bars, and clubs will all close in Portugal from Dec. 26 until Jan. 10, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa announced Tuesday. People have also been told to work from home, and negative tests will be required for ceremonies such as weddings as well as all cultural and sporting events.

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