Denmark downgrades Sweden, Germany and Austria to yellow in new Covid-19 travel guidelines

Denmark has downgraded Sweden, Germany and Austria to yellow in its latest travel guidelines, meaning non-vaccinated travellers who are not resident in Denmark are required to show a negative test to enter the country.

Denmark downgrades Sweden, Germany and Austria to yellow in new Covid-19 travel guidelines
Travellers at Copenhagen Airport. Photo: Jasper Carlberg/CPH

In its first travel update for two weeks, the foreign ministry said that five EU countries would be downgraded from the lowest restriction “green” category: Sweden, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Liechtenstein, and Slovenia. 

Five regions in Norway, Møre og Romsdal, Oslo, Rogaland, Vestfold and Telemark, Vestland and Viken, are also being changed to “yellow” following a rise in infection levels. 

The changes will come into force from 4pm on Saturday, August 28th. 

The border regions of Sweden and Germany, southern Sweden, western Sweden, and Schleswig-Holstein will remain green however, meaning travellers who have stayed in the border country can continue to travel into Denmark without having to have taken a test after entry (or before entry in the case of foreign residents). 

The regions of Burgenland, Carinthia, and Lower Austria will also remain green in Austria. 

The main difference between travelling to Denmark from a “yellow” country is that Danish residents who are not vaccinated or immune through previous infection are required to get a test after entry, and those who are not Danish citizens or residents are required to show a negative coronavirus test at border control.

Those arriving by air can get a rapid antigen test for free at the airport between the arrival gate and border control. 

In its statement, the foreign ministry recommended that those arriving in Denmark from a “yellow” country now get a PCR test rather than a rapid test. 

In order to strengthen the detection of infection with the Delta variant in Denmark, travelLers are strongly encouraged to take a PCR instead of a quick test upon entry,” it read. 

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‘A game changer’: Airlines demand EU explain new border system for non-EU travellers

Industry associations representing airlines have called on European authorities to plan a “public communications campaign” to alert non-EU nationals about new requirements to enter and exit the Schengen area.

'A game changer': Airlines demand EU explain new border system for non-EU travellers

The EU Entry/Exit System (EES) will record the biometric data (finger prints and facial recognition) of non-EU citizens travelling for short stays to the Schengen area (EU countries minus Ireland, Romania and Bulgaria, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), each time they cross the external borders.

Fully digital, the system will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. The data collected will be kept in a centralised database shared among the Schengen countries.

The EES was created to tighten up border security and will ensure the enforcement of the 90-day limit in any 180-day period for tourists and visitors. But it requires changes in the infrastructure at the external borders, including airports, and the setting up of a new digital infrastructure to connect authorities in participating countries.

Its entry into operation has already been delayed several times. The latest date for the EES launch was May this year, but last week European authorities decided to postpone it again “due to delays from the contractors”. It is now expected to enter into force at the end of 2023, as The Local reported this week.

Airline associations including European region of Airports Council International (ACI), Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the delay and said further preparations are needed.

“The EES will be a game changer for how the EU’s borders are managed. There are, however, a number of issues which must be resolved to ensure a smooth roll out and operation of the new system so that air passengers do not face disruptions,” a joint statement says.

Things to be resolved include a “wider adoption and effective implementation of automation at national border crossing points by national authorities, funding by member states to ensure a sufficient number of trained staff and resources are deployed to manage the EU’s external border, particularly at airports,” and the “deployment of sufficient resources” to help airports and airlines with new procedures.

Airlines also said there needs to be a public communications campaign to inform non-EU citizens about the changes.

In addition, industry groups called on EU-LISA, the agency responsible for managing the system, to “strengthen communication” with airlines and with international partners such as the US “to ensure IT systems are connected and compatible.”

The decision to postpone the EES entry into operation until after the summer “will give airlines, airports and EU and national authorities the opportunity to resolve these issues and ensure the system is fully tested,” the statement continues.

The EU-LISA is currently preparing a revised timeline for the launch, which will be presented for approval at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, the meeting of responsible EU ministers, in March 2023.

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.