What are the Covid restrictions around Europe for Christmas and New Year?

People walk past Christmas lights in downtown Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. Despite vaccination rates that make other governments envious, Spain and Iberian neighbor Portugal are facing the hard truth that these winter holidays won't be a time of unrestrained joy. The reason is the new omicron variant that has been running rampant across Europe. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Christmas lights in downtown Madrid, Spain Credit: AP/Bernat Armangue

As the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spreads, several European countries have tightened their measures.

Many have strengthened travel restrictions and imposed further Covid controls. At the same time, some have eased limits on social gathering for the festive season.

Below is a snapshot of the Covid restrictions and travel rules for European countries over Christmas and New Year.


Spain is to adopt mask-wearing outdoors amid record virus surge Credit: AP/Manu Fernandez

Spain made wearing face masks outdoors a legal requirement from Christmas Eve.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez convened a special Cabinet meeting on December 23 to pass the law by decree - which meant there was no debate and no vote in parliament.

The armed forces will also be deployed to help with the vaccination rollout and provide hospital beds. Mr Sánchez hopes to get 80% of the 60-69-year-olds third booster shots by January 2.

Covid tests for work purposes will also be temporarily sold at pharmacies, amid a reported shortage of tests, and retired staff and specialists who earned their qualifications outside the EU will join the medical workforce.

And fully vaccinated people won’t need to quarantine if they have been in contact with someone who tested positive.

To enter Spain, travellers must prove they have been fully vaccinated or that they tested negative for coronavirus. More information here.


A woman crosses a canal in Amsterdam Credit: Peter Dejong/AP

The Netherlands has been under a strict national lockdown since December 19 and will remain under lockdown through Christmas and into the New Year.

Schools, universities, and all non-essential shops, bars and restaurants in the Netherlands will remain closed until January 14. Essential businesses, including supermarkets and chemists, must close at 8pm.

People will only be permitted two visitors, except for Christmas and New Year’s, when four will be allowed.

From December 22, to enter the Netherlands, travellers from very high-risk areas (which includes the UK) must also show proof of a negative test and quarantine for 10 days. Unvaccinated travellers are only allowed in for limited reasons.

More information here.


A closed christmas market in Vienna, Austria Credit: AP/Lisa Leutner

The country went into a nationwide lockdown on November 22 and ended lockdown for vaccinated people three weeks later.

Currently, unvaccinated people are still under lockdown, required to stay at home unless for limited reasons.

But unvaccinated people will be allowed to visit gatherings of up to 10 people for Christmas and New Year. For larger festive gatherings of up to 25 people, everyone must be vaccinated.

FFP2 facemasks are compulsory in indoor areas.

Lockdown measures on which businesses can open vary by region, but nightclubs and apres-ski locations remain closed until at least January 10 nationwide.

From February 2022, vaccinations will also become mandatory.

To enter Austria, UK travellers must have had two vaccine doses and test negative on a PCR test, or have had three vaccine doses. Otherwise, they must self-isolate upon arriving.

Local newspaper Kronen Zeitung is reporting the government is considering designating the UK as a "virus variant area," which means imposing a 10-day quarantine on travellers from the UK.

More information is here.

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Covid passports and face masks are required for all indoor venues.

The country is tightening restrictions from January 3 - large events will be limited to 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 people outdoors.

Eating and drinking will be banned in cinemas, theatres, sport facilities and public transportation, including on long-distance routes. People will be requested to sit down during concerts and customers will not be allowed to stand up in bars and working from home will be mandatory at least three days per week for employees whose job makes it possible.

The new rules will be in place for at least three weeks.

Non-French nationals travelling between the UK and France must have a "compelling" reason to travel - tourism or business reasons are not included. In addition, vaccinated people must have a negative test result taken less than 24 hours ago.

More information here.Germany

People present their vaccination status as they queue in front of the famous department store 'KaDeWe' in Berlin Credit: AP/Michael Sohn

Germany has announced social gatherings will be limited to ten people from December 28.

Nightclubs will also close and big events like football matches will be held without fans.

Other restrictions were already in place, including entry to shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and theatres restricted to fully vaccinated people. Essential shops and pharmacies are open to everyone.

And fully vaccinated people or people with negative tests can go into offices and go on public transport.

The UK has been identified as a 'risk area with a particularly high risk of infection'. It means non-German residents are barred from entering Germany.

And any travellers from the UK must have a negative Covid test, regardless of their vaccination status.

More information here.


Covid passports are required for restaurants, bars and cafes and face masks are mandatory in indoor venues.

For social gatherings outdoors, face masks and Covid passports are compulsory from the age of six if more than 100 people are present.

For indoor gatherings, the threshold for face masks and Covid passports is 50 people.

The UK is currently classified as red zone (high risk). Travellers entering Belgium must have a Covid passport. Non-Belgian residents must take a Covid test.

More information here.


Bars and nightclubs were forced to close from Christmas Day and working from home will be mandatory until at least January 9.

Outdoor gatherings will be limited to ten people on New Year's Eve, when a negative test will be needed to enter indoor venues or parties.

There will also be capacity restrictions in shops and a negative test will be required for hotels and events.

The new measures were announced by Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Tuesday. He said most of the measures were planned for early January but the rapid spread of Omicron forced the government to implement them ahead of time.

Travellers from the UK must present a negative Covid test.

More information here.


Bars and restaurants were forced to close at 10pm on Christmas Eve, and for three weeks starting on December 28, restaurants in many regions will have to close at 6pm with limited seating.

From December 28 until at least January 16, travellers entering Finland will need to present a Covid passport proving vaccination status and a negative Covid test.

People can enter without these documents only for essential reasons or from countries on the EU's green list.

More information here.


Bars, cafes and restaurants must only have seated service from Wednesday, and people are being urged to work from home.

A limit of 50 people at private gatherings and the need for a vaccination pass for public events with more than 500 people is also being introduced.

Shops will have to limit the number of visitors in premises.

From December 28, all travellers over 12 must have a negative test to enter Sweden, regardless of vaccination status.

Currently, fully vaccinated UK travellers can enter Sweden without need to test or self-isolate. Unvaccinated travellers need to present a negative test and prove they are travelling for an essential reason.

More information here.