- The Netherlands just announced new travel restrictions in response to new variants of COVID-19.
- Travelers from non-European countries must pass a rapid test within four hours of their flight.
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, in response, canceled all of its long-haul flights.
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The Dutch government on Wednesday announced a new lockdown linked to COVID-19 that significantly restricts international travel, prompting the national airline KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to suspend all long-haul flights, according to Reuters.
The new government-imposed requirements require passengers to test negative for the COVID-19 rapid test no later than four hours before departure for the Netherlands. In addition, passengers must also have a negative result of a PCR test performed within 72 hours of their flight’s departure to be admitted into the country.
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The restrictions are among the strictest imposed by a national government at the end of the pandemic and the country expects travel to decrease significantly as a result. In January, KLM planned to serve more than 30 countries outside of Europe with around 270 long-haul weekly departures, according to data from Reuters and Cirium.
Travelers should still quarantine even with both negative tests for at least five days before they can perform a negative PCR test. If a negative test result is not received after five days, the quarantine may end after 10 days.
The Netherlands also announced a ban on passenger flights from the following countries: South Africa, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname , Uruguay and Venezuela. KLM currently serves eight of these countries.
The ban on passenger flights from the UK, initially issued in December, has also been extended. The new restrictions on travel from these countries are expected to last at least a month or until legislation is passed outlining quarantine requirements for these travelers.
“The government is gravely concerned about the UK variant of the coronavirus, which is even more infectious than the virus we know in the Netherlands,” the government said in a statement.
The Caribbean Netherlands is also affected by the new order, the statement said, which means that travel could be affected to Bonaire, Saint-Eustache and Saba, as well as the constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, notably Aruba, Sint Maarten and Curaçao.
Bonaire recently opened its air borders to North America with plans for non-stop flights to the United States in February.
International travel is not recommended for residents of the Netherlands until at least March 31, 2021. “Each trip a person takes increases the chances of causing more infections or bringing new variants of the coronavirus to the Netherlands.”
On the home front, Dutch citizens are advised not to have more than one visitor per day over the age of 13 and not to make more than one daily visit to another household. There is also a curfew to keep residents indoors between 8:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.
The Netherlands is also restricting the types of travelers who will be granted exemptions to enter the country during the pandemic. As a result, groups comprising business travelers and students will be prohibited from entering.
The government also made a point of noting that “people having long distance romantic relationships and wishing to travel to the Netherlands for a short period will no longer be allowed to enter”.
“We don’t want to look back in a few weeks and realize that we haven’t done enough,” the statement said.