Covid-19 travel: Denmark changes France, Belgium colours in latest update

A number of popular holiday destinations were changed from green to yellow in the latest update to the Danish foreign ministry’s Covid-19 travel guidelines.

Covid-19 travel: Denmark changes France, Belgium colours in latest update
French capital Paris is among the regions to change colour in Denmark's updated weekly Covid-19 travel guidelines. Photo: Vibeke Toft/Staff/Ritzau Scanpix

France was changed from a green to a yellow country in the update on Friday, although 9 of France’s 13 regions will remain green under the regional application of the traffic light system.

Like France, Belgium also switches from green to yellow. One Belgian region remains green.

Danish residents returning home from travel to a yellow country are required to take a Covid-19 test on their return to Denmark. Exceptions apply for people who are fully vaccinated or previously infected with the coronavirus.

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.

An official list of the countries and regions which fall into each category is here. The list is usually updated on Fridays.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Denmark’s colour classification for travel rules

French capital Paris is among the regions to go yellow on Friday, as are the two regions encompassing the country’s Mediterranean coast as well as the island of Corsica.

The Belgian region to avoid switching to yellow is Wallonia, which stays green. Capital Brussels is now yellow.

Greece also sees more regions turn from yellow to green adding to the parts of the country which were changed last week. That means that most of Greece is now yellow.

No changes were made this week to the Danish foreign ministry’s guidelines for travel to the United Kingdom.

Since last week, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been red on the four-tier colour system for Covid-19 travel restrictions, while Wales is orange. Those colours will remain in place until at least July 31st.

That means the ministry still advises against all travel to all of the UK with the exception of Wales, which remains orange (all non-essential travel is discouraged).

As such, all travellers resident in 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.

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.

The new travel guidelines come into effect at 4pm on Saturday, July 24th.

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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.