Here’s a quick update.
First of all, as of today, negative PCR-tests are required to enter the Netherlands by plane, train, bus or boat. The requirements of these tests can be found at the travel FAQ page, and the linked pages of the Dutch government over on that page.
There are some exceptions however: if you travel on a local train or bus, a negative test is not required. This means that on local trains (e.g. Essen (B)-Roosendaal, Leer (D)-Groningen), and local busses (e.g. Turnhout (B)-Tilburg) that do cross borders, such a test is not required. If you’re not sure whether that applies to your cross-border plans, feel free to get in touch.
A negative PCR test is also not required if you cross the border in your own car. People travelling from ‘safe countries’ as designated by the EU are also exempt from the test.
Not sure what applies to you? Check the travel FAQ page.
Secondly, all EU countries have now started vaccinating, except one. The Netherlands has not yet. There is a lot of criticism on this decision. The reasoning behind it is twofold: 1. the logistics of vaccination and 2. it is an explicit choice to not yet start with symbolical vaccination. I will briefly explain the line the Dutch government has taken on this.
- Logistics. The logistics part sees two main challenges: first of all the requirement of the vaccine to be kept at -70°C and the fact that the vaccine is packed in large quantities. That is why it has been decided to start vaccination on a few central hubs. It is also the reason why healthcare workers will get vaccinated first, and not the weaker or elderly. The second logistics challenge is that the registration system for who gets what vaccine is not yet ready.
- Symbolic vaccination. Unlike the UK, where relatively many vaccines were available right in the first round of vaccinations, the Netherlands will only have a few available. As in France, Belgium or most other countries, only a few people could be vaccinated this year still (e.g. in Belgium, only 500 people in three elderly homes). The decision has been made to only start vaccination once significant volumes are available.
Please note this translation only reflects governmental communication and not necessarily my personal opinion. If you have factual questions regarding this I’m happy to help and answer. I will however not engage in discussion on this topic.
Lastly, it was announced yesterday that the military will now come to aid of long-term healthcare institutions such as elderly homes, starting in Groningen, Twente and Gelderland. This is because of the precarious situations in those places. Due to sickness and quarantine requirements, it is expected that more elderly homes will struggle with a staff shortage. This decision is supposed to ensure the quality of healthcare.
As I hope this will be my last update for this year, I want to wish all of you a happy new year already. 2021 will be better than this year, so stay strong and hang in there! Also at New Year’s Eve, keep Covid in mind and behave responsibly. I promise I will stay right by your side, also in the next year, and will keep providing regular updates.
PS. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I also post these updates via WhatsApp. If you want the latest updates right on your phone, feel free to join the news group!