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Are the travel restrictions in place in the Netherlands also in Belgium?

We are planning a trip in Christmas (24 - 31st) to the Netherlands and Belgium (posted my question in the Belgium forum), but I'm concerned now that travelling this year might not be the best decision... I'm not even sure if the Christmas markets in all their splendor will be open... Does anyone have some additional information in this regard?
It seems too risky to book a trip, and then have to wait until sometime in December to see if the situation has improved (or worsened)...
Saddened... but that's the reality we live in...


Posted by
5457 posts

I happen to be in Belgium now, spent my first night in Amsterdam, and will be flying home from there at the end of the week.

The Netherlands have clamped down harder, not accepting the CDC card, you must test (pay for) daily, and stores close at 6, bars and restaurants at 8. We skipped days we had planned in the Netherlands, spending our time in Belgium.

Belgium is manageable at the moment, your CDC card also does not work here, but the government has a method available to get a Belgian QR code online. Every bar and restaurant checks, masks required, some towns are requiring masks in crowded outdoor areas, like Christmas markets and shopping areas.

The biggest thing is closures. Things you expect to be open are simply closed. A museum, restaurants, bars, shops, all have been closed, despite their website saying they are open. Plenty of places are open, but if you plan on going to a specific place, you will be disappointed about a third of the time. Many places are also closing certain days during the week, open only on the weekend and a few other days.

Monday, new measures go into effect, not really any worse for travelers, and I expect if this new variant takes off (already found in Belgium) more Netherlands like actions will occur..

Posted by
5022 posts

Personally, if I hadn’t already booked a trip, there is no way that I would be now booking it until it’s clearer where we are heading with the new variant. I can guess which way things are likely to go, but it is just a guess.

If restrictions are introduced, then indoor events and busy places such as Christmas markets will be the first to suffer.

With the new variant being so unknown, even though I am fully vaccinated and had the booster, I wouldn’t want to risk getting it or passing it to others and having to pay for a quarantine hotel or miss part of the trip due to self isolation.

Posted by
104 posts

Thank you all for your replies!
And thank you Paul for letting us know about your current ground experience in Belgium.
Definitely not a good time to travel, with Winter coming in and indoor crowd gathering plus the nuisance of having to get tested continuously, even though all our family has had the 3 shots (including Booster) from Pfizer, it's not going to be a smooth trip.
I'm glad you were able to share your views, I have already cancelled the trip and got refunded all our money (and miles used).
Who knows, maybe after the Dec 14th, we may hear some different news and things may change for the better, at that point I can't imagine flight prices having gone down, but up significantly... Maybe next year!
Thank you!

Posted by
19375 posts

The update at the top of the article indicates that only about 1/5 of the infected passengers have been found to have the new variant. I can't tell from the phrasing whether they finished sequencing all the samples.

"Update: As a follow-up to this story from yesterday, of the 61 passengers who tested positive for coronavirus from these two KLM flights, the omicron variant has been found in 13 of them, so that accounts for ~21% of the cases on these flights."

Posted by
2133 posts

Landed at AMS about 2 hours ago, arriving from London. At LHR, we had to show a negative Antigen or PCR test. Flying on KLM, we waited in line to check in as NO online boarding passes were to be issued. We were told that our COVID documents needed to be inspected before we could get our boarding passes. We waited in line for 52 minutes at LHR just to get a boarding pass! Sure wish the KLM READY-TO-FLY Option would have been available (It was not coming FROM London - I expressed my frustration with KLM via WhatsApp, where they have a strong presence.)

Once we received our boarding passes, COVID was never mentioned again - even after we arrived at AMS. So, like many situations at airports worldwide, the enforcement of the COVID restrictions falls squarely on the airlines at check-in, which makes checking in - like today - a more arduous and time-consuming experience.

Arriving at Schiphol - less than 48 hours after the most recent COVID news impacted AMS and the world - I exited the plane carrying - and ready to show - my required, negative antigen test and the completed government-mandated NL Declaration form, NO ONE asked to see these (and remember, I had to go through passport control coming from the UK). There were no COVID checks, temp checks, COVID questions; Again, no one asked to see my signed, NL declaration form... and mask-wearing, as I headed to my parked car, was rather hit & miss.

Arriving home, pretty much all retail - with the exception of pharmacies and grocery stores - will close at 5 PM today. And yet, less than 50% of the people in the streets of Den Haag were wearing masks. Unfortunately, since March 2020 - and I've flown often - arriving at AMS, I've never had a temp check, a covid question, or showed my required NL declaration form to anyone. So, not surprised by the recent numbers here, nor the fact we are on another "lockdown."

Posted by
104 posts

Dear RnR,
Thank you for the update on your current entry to AMS... This helps put things into perspective... It's very frustrating that going on almost 2 years with this pandemic, we're still not totally out of the woods...

Posted by
115 posts

Thank you RnR,
We arrive in Amsterdam from a cruise ending on the 7th of Dec.
I’m seeing that museum goers aren’t masked & it’s overcrowded (the week of Thanksgiving)
I saw that someone said there’s free Covid testing. I don’t know if I can believe that…especially for Americans.
I have a Swiss QR code & some people say it’s accepted & others say it isn’t.
The government websites don’t address the new restrictions for tourists & testing for Covid
We are fully vaccinated w boosters & wear masks everywhere we go. I’m about ready to cancel our hotel & try to get back to the States earlier than planned. We’ve looked forward to the visit, but will cancel if it’s simply too crazy in Amsterdam.
Are airlines accepting free changes to tickets out of Amsterdam due to the new government restrictions?
Any advice & help is greatly appreciated!
Any valid information from tourists already THERE?
Thanks so much!

Posted by
5457 posts

My View. I am in Belgium now, had planned on being in Amsterdam, but I will be staying in Antwerp, taking a train directly to Schipol to fly out. I spent one night in Amsterdam at the beginning of the trip, 2 weeks ago, under the old restrictions. There may have been free testing, but then you need to navigate either the public system, or rely on tourism organizations...but testing everyday is really just too much of a burden, if you have to pay 60 euro per person...a financial burden. Add to that, all testing gets you is entry to museums and restaurants/bars, but everything shuts down at 5 PM.

As for Airlines accepting free changes...that is entirely up to the airline and the terms under which you bought the ticket. Most airlines have switched to a policy of "you know covid has been a thing for nearly two years, so what do you expect?" Change fees have been reduced or eliminated, where you get caught is in ticket cost...the cheap ticket you booked 6 months ago is no longer available...maybe.

Like I said, I decided to stay in Belgium, I have a QR code for Belgium, but does not work in the Netherlands. Airport is 1.5 hours away, I do not fly out until enjoy Belgium rather than lockdown. By the way, the most prevalent tourist in Belgium have become those from the Netherlands, including daytrippers.

Posted by
12746 posts

I saw that someone said there’s free Covid testing. I don’t know if I
can believe that…especially for Americans.

Berry, regarding your question about test cost, did you read the info on the weblink provided to you by a resident of Amsterdam on TripAdvisor? As suggested, the FAQ section is particularly helpful, and states (click the tab for English in the upper left of the page):

"How much does it cost to get a test?
The cost of the entry tests are currently paid for by the Dutch government. There are no costs for you as a visitor."

Hope this helps a little. RNR will likely have more info regarding the latest requirements for testing. You mentioned having your CDC vax card along, and also the Swiss QR code?

Posted by
2133 posts

@Kathy is correct - as per the website: It appears the process to get a test is the same whether you're a resident or a visitor... and that's a change. Months ago tests were free to all but the facilities were overwhelmed and that practice stopped. As per the Testen Voor Toegang website (which translates to "Test Before Access"), it appears that free tests are in play. I don't have any "tourist" personal knowledge even though I am a USA passport holder... because as residents, we also have the QR code (as do all our ex-pat friends).

Because I've had to travel often the past few months, I've had to take numerous COVID tests. Using the website - as if I were a tourist - it sends me to the SAME facility I've been to the past few months - just 3 blocks from my apartment.

Yes, we're still under a lockdown. Restaurants are closed at 5 PM, as are all retail locations. I did note that more locals are wearing masks today and that's a necessary improvement as COVID numbers have been running at record highs. Hopefully, this mini-lockdown will not become a "full lockdown" --- as we experienced last December.

Unfortunately, the NL government website is most certainly "locals-oriented." If you're a non-EU resident - or don't have a QR code - the information seems quite ambiguous. We try to follow the English-speaking Dutch newspapers to get insight, and then try to verify online. But you're right -- it's a challenge!

I do not have any Swiss friends, but talking with other ex-pats that travel often, they were telling me that their QR codes were good In EU countries, in Norway, Iceland, and in Switzerland. Thus, I would think that a Swiss QR code falls under some form of reciprocation! Suffice to say... things are different here now versus 30 days ago... and hopefully they'll be different (and better) soon.