The Netherlands Tightens COVID Testing Requirements

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The Dutch government has ramped up its testing-related entry restrictions for passengers from certain countries. With case numbers and death rates alarmingly high, as well as the presence of a new mutation of coronavirus, the UK is among these high-risk territories. But what do the new requirements entail?

KLM Boeing 777 Getty
The new restrictions will also apply to transport sector employees. Photo: Getty Images

New measures in force as of today

The Dutch government announced earlier this week that it would be tightening its coronavirus testing requirements for certain passengers. As of today, the Netherlands will require passengers arriving from Ireland and South Africa to have tested negative for COVID immediately before their departure. This is in order to minimize the spread of new strains of coronavirus entering the country from these high-risk areas.

The UK is also bound by these new rules, which apply to passengers arriving by both air and sea. Since April 2018, high-speed Eurostar trains have also connected London with Rotterdam and Amsterdam. However, the rapid pre-departure test requirement already applied for rail passengers on this route.

Not a replacement for existing measures

In all instances, these rules are an addition to, rather than a replacement for, existing measures. Previously, passengers only had to produce evidence of a negative PCR or RT-LAMP test within 72 hours of their arrival in the Netherlands. Those traveling to the Netherlands from the affected countries are advised to allow extra time at the airport to take the pre-departure test.

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KLM 737s Amsterdam
The Netherlands will require passengers from the UK to test negative immediately before departure, in addition to existing requirements. Photo: Jake Hardiman – Simple Flying

Now, they will also be required to take and pass a rapid-response test to be allowed to travel to the country. It is worth noting that, for British passengers, an NHS COVID test will not be accepted for the test taken up to 72 hours before departure. This is according to Dutch flag carrier KLM.

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The Netherlands already has some of the strictest testing requirements for airline passengers. Indeed, the Dutch government announced in late-December that even transiting passengers would require a negative test to change planes in the country.

Minimal UK-Netherlands travel permitted

Since the Brexit transition period ended, the prospect of travel between Britain and the Netherlands has been minimal anyhow. This is because, as of January 1st, the Dutch government has not permitted entry to non-EU/EEA nationals and nationals of non-Schengen states. Now that the UK falls under the category of a non-EU territory, one can only travel from there to the Netherlands in certain exemption cases.

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KLM crew getty
The Dutch government hopes to minimize the spread of new coronavirus variants with its latest measures. Photo: Getty Images

For example, the ban does not apply to British nationals who are legally resident in the Netherlands. However, according to the British Foreign Office, such passengers will need to provide proof of residence to re-enter the country.

Overall, the UK and the Netherlands have rarely felt so disconnected. Amsterdam often used to function as a worldwide hub for non-London passengers, due to KLM Cityhopper’s extensive presence at British regional airports. One can only hope that we see greater connectivity in the not-too-distant future.

What do you make of the Dutch government’s additional testing measures? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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