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FEATURE

Travel to Denmark: England, Northern Ireland and Greek holiday destinations upgraded in latest guidelines

People who live anywhere in England will be required to self-isolate if they travel to Denmark from Saturday, July 17th, while Danish holidaymakers in parts of Greece and Spain must get tested for Covid-19 after returning home.

Travel to Denmark: England, Northern Ireland and Greek holiday destinations upgraded in latest guidelines
A file photo showing Ammoudes Beach on Greek island Rhodes. Photo: Louiza Vradi/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Editor’s note: article updated July 19th 2021 to include information about worthy purpose entry requirements.

In its latest travel guidelines, which are updated every Friday, the Danish foreign ministry classified all of England and Northern Ireland as red on its four-tier colour system for Covid-19 travel restrictions.

That means the ministry advises against all travel to all of the UK with the exception of Wales, which remains orange (all non-essential travel is discouraged). Scotland was already a red country, as were parts of England – which has now been made completely red.

This means all travellers from England, Northern Ireland and Scotland will need to present a PCR test taken within the past 72 hours before boarding a plane to Denmark and will need to isolate upon arrival, even if previously vaccinated or infected.

Vaccinated people from Wales can still travel to Denmark without having to isolate under the updated guidelines, which take effect at 4pm on July 17th.

Additionally, a worthy purpose is required to enter Denmark for all visitors from red countries. For orange countries, vaccinated people do not require a worthy purpose to enter Denmark, but people travelling on the basis of a recent negative test or prior infection do need a worthy purpose. It should be noted that the list of valid worthy purposes is shorter for red countries than for orange countries. You can read more about the specific rules and criteria for fulfilling a worthy purpose here.

Denmark classifies countries and regions around the world into four categories for Covid-19 travel restrictions: green, yellow, orange and red. The colour codes determine the rules that must be observed to enter Denmark, including those related to quarantine or isolation.

The requirements vary depending on whether you are travelling with a negative recent test, are fully vaccinated or have previously been infected with Covid-19. You can read more about the rules for each of the colour categories here and rules during isolation here.

The colours of countries and regions are revised on a weekly basis, based on objective criteria and the health situation in the relevant locations.

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Five of Greece’s 13 regions were meanwhile upgraded from green to the higher caution level of yellow in Friday’s update.

The yellow regions now include capital city Athens along with popular holiday destinations Crete, Rhodes and Kos.

Luxembourg, the Netherlands and three Spanish regions (Galicia, Castilla-La Mancha and Melilla) were also switched from green to yellow.

Authorities do not advise Danish residents against travel to yellow countries or regions, but unlike green areas, they are required to take a Covid-19 test after returning to Denmark.

Foreign nationals (not including Denmark residents) travelling from yellow countries and regions must take a Covid-19 test before and after entry to Denmark if they are not vaccinated or previously infected with Covid-19 (within the last 12 months and more than 14 days ago).

A total of eight percent of positive coronavirus tests registered in Denmark in the last week were linked to the infected person’s recent travel to Spain, according to data from the Danish Patient Safety Authority reported by broadcaster DR earlier on Friday.

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COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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