It was supposed to be the big comeback of the winter travel season in the Europe, with glittering Christmas markets, skiers gliding down snowy slopes, and opera performances welcoming audiences in grand theatres.
But then came a deadly fourth wave of coronavirus cases, triggering a new round of curfews and roadblocks in several European countries (and Austria, a vaccine mandate for the majority of the country’s population).
These stringent measures have sparked violent protests across the continent, with tens of thousands of protesters arguing that the requirements are violations of their basic freedoms. Now many Christmas markets are cancelled, some winter resorts are closed, and concert halls are not working.
The rapidly changing landscape has once again made it difficult to plan trips to Europe. Find out what changes, for tourists, with the new restrictions:
Which countries have imposed restrictions again?
Austria took the toughest line so far, becoming the first western country on Monday to re-impose a full national blockade, allowing people to leave their homes just to work or buy essentials like groceries and medicine.
The stoppage will last at least 10 days and could be extended to Dec. 13, the Austrian government said. During this period, leisure travel to Austria is prohibited and tourist attractions, including markets in Austria, are prohibited. Christmas, museums and theaters are closed. Tourists who are already in the country and who cannot reorganize their flights home will be allowed to stay in hotels, but must comply with the blocking rules.
On Friday, the Germany warned that it could take strict measures if coronavirus cases continue to increase, indicating that blockages could be a possibility, even for those who are vaccinated. Christmas fairs have been canceled in Saxony and Bavaria, bars and clubs are closed and restaurants are operating at reduced hours.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia, which have recorded some of the highest infection rates in Europe, have banned unvaccinated people from accessing restaurants, hotels, bars and hairdressers, even if they test negative for coronavirus.
THE Netherlands returned to a partial blockade on Nov. 13 for at least three weeks, with restaurants and stores closing early and spectators banned from participating in sporting events. The Dutch government is exploring ways to restrict unvaccinated people from closed places, a move that has sparked riots and protests across the country.
Ireland has also imposed a curfew this week, requiring bars and clubs to close at midnight.
Can I still travel to Europe?
It depends on where you plan to travel. Although the European Union has published general guidelines for travel to the bloc, each of the 27 member states sets its own entry requirements.
Travelers from Brazil are accepted in 40 countries on the continent. In 28 of them, no restrictions — that is, it is not necessary to quarantine or test negative for covid-19 — for those who are fully vaccinated.
Spain, France and United Kingdom they are among the countries that accept fully vaccinated Brazilians without restrictions; in Portugal, a test for covid must be submitted within 72 hours of the flight. THE Italy requires, in addition to a negative test performed up to 72 hours before the flight, a 10-day quarantine.
What vaccines are accepted?
Among the countries open to travelers from Brazil, 20 accept all vaccines applied in the country, although some of them, such as Germany and Austria, have specific rules for Coronavac. Among the countries that do not accept Coronavac are Belgium, Denmark and the Czech Republic. Some countries, such as Montenegro and Kosovo, do not specify whether or not to accept Sinovac’s vaccine.
Will I need a booster dose?
Most European countries do not require booster entry, but some countries have set “expiration dates” for the vaccine for travelers.
Croatia, Austria and Switzerland require that second doses of vaccine or booster doses be given within a year of entry into the country. In Austria, the period of validity of the single-dose vaccine of Johnson & Johnson is 270 days, or about nine months.
As of December 15, the French government will require all people aged 65 and over who wish to access closed spaces such as restaurants, museums and theaters to receive a booster injection six months and five weeks after the second dose.
Will I need a digital health pass?
Some places like Switzerland and Belgium require tourists to apply for local health passes to gain access to indoor places like restaurants and museums. In Switzerland, all visitors must apply for the pass prior to arrival, and processing time can take up to seven days. Belgium requires tourists over the age of 16 to sign up for a “Covid Safe Ticket” to enter cultural sites, bars and restaurants.
In other destinations such as France, local digital passes are optional for international visitors and can be obtained from some local pharmacies.
How will the last wave affect the ski season?
Although Austria closed its ski resorts during its blockade period, the ski season across the rest of Europe is underway.
Last week, ski resorts in France and Italy reopened, with all skiers over the age of 12 required to provide proof of vaccination, recovery from a covid-19 infection or a negative coronavirus test to access lifts. (At the start of the pandemic, many popular ski destinations, such as Ischgl, Austria, became hotbeds of viruses by bringing large groups together in confined spaces such as cable cars, chalets and restaurants.)
THE Switzerland it has also opened up its slopes for the season and requires visitors to present coronavirus health certificates for the resort’s bars and restaurants.
Can I transit through airports in blocked countries?
There are currently no restrictions for travelers in transit from European airports to other countries. During Austria’s blockade, passengers transiting the country are not allowed to leave the airport area.
Should I be concerned about protests?
Large protests against the restrictive measures erupted across Europe last weekend. Tens of thousands of protesters marched in European cities like Vienna, Amsterdam, Belgium and Rome and clashed with police.
The protests became particularly violent in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, with large groups throwing rocks and fireworks at the police, prompting the police to respond with gunfire. In Brussels, police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds.
Sporadic and small-scale protests continued throughout the week. It’s best to check local news sites for any planned protests before venturing out.