Dutch ease EU COVID-19 travel restrictions, extend festival ban

FILE PHOTO: Closed gates and departure halls are seen, as Schiphol Airport reduces its flights due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Amsterdam, Netherlands April 2, 2020. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands on Monday said it would ease COVID-19 restrictions to allow travel to all European Union countries, including several that had been off limits to Dutch vacationers due to high infection rates.

At the same time, authorities said they would extend a ban on multiple-day festivals, which were deemed too risky.

As of Tuesday, Dutch travel recommendations will no longer be based solely on infection rates which had been making holidays to Spain and Portugal virtually impossible, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The decision was made possible by a relatively high vaccination rate of 50% across the 26-nation bloc and manageable hospital occupancy rates in the Netherlands, it said. The move put the Dutch in line with EU travel agreements.

From July 27 a negative advice "will only be issued to countries with a worrying new virus variant that is not yet widespread in the Netherlands," it said.

Travellers aged 12 and older will have to provide a negative test result from Aug. 8 when returning to the Netherlands from an EU country that is considered to have an elevated risk of infection, it said.

The Dutch government reimposed restrictions on dance clubs, music festivals and restaurants on July 9 just two weeks after they had bee lifted due to a surge in COVID-19 infections among young adults, mostly of the Delta variant.

Large-scale festivals will not be permitted in August, the government said. A decision on the Dutch Formula One Grand Prix in Zandvoort from Sept. 3-5, which had already been postponed once, is expected on Aug. 13.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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