Features
20 mar 20

COVID-19: Update round-up of coronavirus travel restrictions

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Update March 19, 1PM CET - The EU has announced a ban on all non-essential travel into the bloc – although inter-state travel within the bloc will still be possible – subject to individual states’ own restrictions (see below).

The travel ban will initially last for 30 days and excludes EU nationals returning home, diplomats and those conducting essential business related to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “We think non-essential travel should be reduced right now in order to not spread the virus further, be it within the European Union or by leaving the European Union. There will be exemptions for EU citizens coming back home, for health care workers like doctors and nurses, but also scientists working on the solution of this health crisis.”

  • Many EU states are placing increasingly severe restrictions on travel within Europe. The situation is very fluid and changing on a daily basis.
  • For the purposes of the EU travel ban, the UK will continue to be regarded as an EU member state.
  • Advice about travel to/from countries from individual member states may not align across the continent – so while the UK remains open to travellers from across Europe at this time, many EU states are advising against travel to the UK.
  • Travelling by car as opposed to air or rail may offer a solution for essential journeys, but some borders are closing and checks are likely to be stepped up.
  • While Italy and Spain have states of emergency in place, and Germany and France are ramping up travel restrictions. Our advice is to check Government websites on a daily basis for updates.

See below for a per-country overview. Clickable country names will lead you directly to that country's official foreign ministry web page, with up to date advice on travel restrictions

AUSTRIA

  • Flights and rail services to Italy, France, Spain, UK and Switzerland suspended.
  • The state of Tyrol has decided to allow all heavy goods transport (trucks >7.5 tons) on Sundays, until 29 March.
  • Third-country nationals (non EU, EEA or CH) coming from a coronavirus hotspot must present evidence of a negative test to enter the country. All entrants (including Austrians) must offer such a certificate if coming from Italy, Switzerland or Liechtenstein. 

BELGIUM

  • Health screenings on arrival likely. Public transport limited.
  • Foreign Ministry advises against all travel abroad. 
  • Largescale events and gatherings banned.

CROATIA

  • All cross-border train travel is suspended.
  • Compulsory 14-day period of self-isolation for all foreign nationals arriving from a growing list of destinations, including: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, Netherlands, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Singapore.
  • Sanitary teams are assessing travellers on arrival.

CZECH REPUBLIC

  • From 16 March, all foreigners are forbidden to enter the country, and all Czechs are forbidden to leave - except foreigners with a residency permit in the Czech republic, and vice versa.
  • Exempt from this rule are international transport workers, diplomats, cross-border workers, medical staff, and a few other categories.

DENMARK

  • Denmark closed its borders to most visitors from foreign countries, except for those who live in Greenland or Faroe Islands. 

FRANCE

  • Health screenings on arrival likely.
  • Public transport limited and cross channel ferries and train services operating on reduced timetable.
  • For two weeks from 17 March, travel within France will only be possible to work, shop, exercise individually or for childcare or to help vulnerable people. Any violation will be penalised. 
  • Logistics companies and truck drivers are exempt from the lockdown decreed by president Macron on 16 March, in order to ensure delivery of goods (including across national borders). 
  • Large gatherings banned.

GERMANY

  • Germany's Foreign Ministry advises against any non-necessary travel abroad and is making efforts to repatriate Germans stranded in other countries. 
  • Germany has closed borders with Denmark, Luxembourg, France, Austria and Switzerland. 
  • The border remains open for goods transport, cross-border workers and Germans returning from abroad.
  • Bavaria has decided to ban public gatherings for the upcoming 14 days, heavy goods transport (trucks >7.5 tons) are allowed on Sundays, until 29 March. Transports of food and hygienic products are free to drive on Sundays until 30 May. 

GREECE

  • Travellers are asked to avoid nonessential travel to areas wth local transmission of the coronavirus.
  • There is a 14 days’ mandatory quarantine for international arrivals.

HUNGARY

  • After Iran, China, South Korea and Italy, Israel has been added to the list of countries from which foreigners arriving in Hungary are denied entry.

IRELAND

  • Ireland's Foreign Ministry advises against all non-essential travel overseas at least until 29 March. This includes Great Britain but not Northern Ireland.
  • The Irish Health Authorities require anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, to either self-quarantine or self-isolate on arrival for 14 days. This includes Irish residents. 
  • Exemptions are in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff.

ITALY

  • Entire country in lockdown. Internal travel restricted.
  • Tourists advised to minimise movements to those necessary to returning home.
  • Airports remain open, but dramatic reduction in flights with many cancellations. Cross border rail services subject to cancellations.
  • International transport and heavy goods transport (trucks >7.5 tons) will be allowed on Sunday 22 March. 
  • Most foreign governments advising against travel here.

NETHERLANDS

  • Flights from 'risk countries' (mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy and South Korea) suspended until at least March 27.
  • Health screenings on arrival likely.
  • Public transport limited.
  • Large gatherings restricted.

NORWAY

  • Until 26 March, anyone coming into Norway from outside Nordic countries must be quarantined at home for two weeks after arrival.
  • On March 13, the municipality for Oslo, the nation’s capital, said on its website that “foreign travelers from countries outside the Nordics arriving at Oslo airport will have to return home.”

POLAND

  • Foreigners banned from entering the country.
  • International rail and international and domestic air services suspended.
  • Border controls temporarily restored.
  • All Polish citizens returning from abroad must voluntarily quarantine for two weeks.

PORTUGAL

  • Restrictions on land border with Spain and arrivals from Italy.
  • Self-quarantine for arrivals from offshore territories including Madeira.

RUSSIA

  • Ban to enter the country for all foreign citizens until May 1.
  • Reduced commercial flights between Russia and the U.S., the UK, and the United Arab Emirates.

SLOVAKIA

  • All international travel suspended.
  • International airports and rail stations closed.
  • Checks in place at borders.

SLOVENIA

  • All flights suspended.

SPAIN

  • State of emergency in place.
  • Partial lockdown of all domestic travel. Severe restrictions on inbound flights.
  • All land borders are closed, only allowing citizens, residents and others with special permits to enter. 
  • All hotels to close by March 24.
  • Direct flights from Italy to Spain are banned until March 25.
  • In order to ensure delivery of essential goods, all restrictions on truck transport have been lifted until 28 March.
  • Most foreign governments advising against travel here.

SWITZERLAND

  • From March 14, travellers entering Italy are refused entry, with some exceptions, including anyone who lives or works in Switzerland.
  • Health screenings on arrival likely.
  • Public transport limited.

TURKEY

  • Turkey has suspended all flights to and from Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, Switzerland, the UAE, the UK. 
  • Foreign travellers “who were physically present in these countries in the last 14 days” are also barred from entering the country. 
  • The country has also closed land borders with Iran, Iraq, Georgia and Azerbaijan. 

UK

  • UK Government advice is to avoid all non-essential travel worldwide for 30 days.
  • Currently open to all EU visitors, but closed to US travellers.
  • Rail services operating on reduced timetable. 
  • Health screening and self-isolation are likely for travellers from Armenia, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Liechtenstein, Sweden.
  • Many foreign governments advising against travel here.
  • The Foreign Office advises against all non-essential travel overseas for 30 days.

Image copyright: Shutterstock

Author: Mark Sutcliffe, Frank Jacobs