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Spring tour

My wife and I just retired from teaching and have a 10 day trip planned to Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris. Should I reschedule because Amsterdam has just been downgraded again. Our trip isn't until March 11.

Posted by
625 posts

The CDC travel categories are just recommendations. What is important is your comfort level in traveling to a particular country and that country’s entry requirements. So, as long as the Netherlands is accepting tourists from the US, you can travel there.

And FYI, by the standards the US uses to make these lists, the US itself would be at the highest risk level too. So, I try to keep things in perspective. I was in Europe this past Sept. and felt safer over there as there was much better mask compliance.

Congrats on retiring!!

Posted by
792 posts

I agree with Carrie, My wife and I were in Spain in September and the locals all have higher vaccinations rates than does my home state, and they all wear masks indoor without any complaints!! You are safer in Europe than you are the USA in regard to Covid. Portugal has nearly 100% vaccination in contrast to barely 66% of Americans.

I'm sorry if I sound like I'm on a soap box but I find it frustrating that we as Americans refuse to take a vaccination in the middle of a Pandemic that has cost 750,000 lives.

Posted by
8672 posts

Vote #3 with Carrie and Donald. I spent a month in France and loved that people are masking just as a matter of course. Everyone on public transport donning their masks as they walked down the stairs to the platforms. Ditto stores, museums, etc. Few were masked outside but it was not required. I did mask but I was still wrapping my head around a country-wide vax rate of something like 86% when I was there.

Coming from Idaho where there is still a lot of pandemic denial and few have masked since the beginning I really had a time adjusting to the difference in approach to dealing with the pandemic.

I'd not cancel now. I'd wait to see what is happening with numbers. Is this a tour where you have to pay 90 days ahead? If not, if you can add time on either end, I'd do so. 10 days is not enough time for Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris, lolol!!

Plan to go and have a wonderful time! And congrats from me as well on retirement. It's truly wonderful!

Posted by
1502 posts

I was in Switzerland Sept, 2021. The night before our trip, the CDC designated Switzerland as level 4. At the same time, the UK put Switzerland on their Green list. SOMEWHAT CONFOUNDING...
We are/were fully vaccinated .
A friend who is an Epidemiologist and PHD medical researcher at a major US university looked at the data. He found that at that time, the covid rates in Switzerland were about the same as the rates in our home city. In fact, some US states had much higher rates of infection.
The trip was incredible, and we felt very safe, as mask compliance on public transportation was very high. We rarely experienced any crowds, and most restaurants had outside seating.

It's a personal decision, but I'm so glad we went!

Posted by
2142 posts

@eltoepfer, no doubt that things will change in The Netherlands before March 11th. But living here, I can give you thoughts on what's happening now. Currently, as noted, the NL has been downgraded and even labeled as a 'RED country' by the EU. The reality is that we are in the midst of the worst numbers since we had our last lockdown. Covid restrictions were relaxed back in late July, but now we're back to MASKS required at indoor locations and QR Codes for entry into restaurants, events, movies, etc. We've not yet returned to the poorly enforced, ineffective, "1.5-meter" distancing rule. Further steps could be taken if the numbers do not improve.

There's no way anyone here wants to go into another lockdown, so the government is rolling out the booster (3rd shot) program in the coming weeks. For those of us over 60 - who were required to get the Astra Zeneca shots earlier in the year by the Dutch government - this can't come soon enough. We'll see if this, and the current steps, reverse the current trend. From an economic perspective, Spring 2022 is very important. The tulip season is a huge tourist draw and in April, the Floriade Expo 2022 starts. (This only happens once every 10 years, so it's a big deal!).

That said, circumstances can change quickly and you'll need to stay on top of the news as March 11th approaches. I'll give you two Dutch examples.

First, I am headed to London in less than 2 weeks for business. If the UK decides - based on our current trend - to add the NL to their RED list, then my trip will be off as more than likely, a quarantine will be required for all persons entering from the NL. Thus, I'll be scrambling to cancel hotel reservations, change flights, get vouchers, cancel transport, etc. Fingers crossed this will not happen, but I am following the news daily!

Another example - Back in August, I believe that's the correct date, I had a counterpart in the industry who had two couples departing from Amsterdam on a river cruise. A couple of weeks before their cruise, the EU council came out stating that Americans should not be allowed to enter the EU (You might recall those times!). Most EU countries sort of ignored this and choose to impose their own standard - like requiring that all travelers be vaccinated, or they must also have a negative Covid. test. The Dutch government hemmed and hawed for a few days and then finally came out with a startling rule: Americans could come, but they faced a minimum 5-day quarantine. Two days later, now about 10 days before the cruise, the river cruise line canceled the cruise, as 85% of the participants would be Americans who now could not enter the country unless they came 6 days earlier and were quarantined.

Thus, my friend scrambled to get these travelers a cruise voucher, cancel their flights, the post-cruise hotels, transport, activities, etc. Needless to say, it was hectic and frustrating for everyone. THEN, 8 DAYS LATER, the Dutch government changed their entry rule: Now, Americans would need to be vaccinated - no quarantine required! This was 2 days before these folks were supposed to enter the NL. Thus, because of the flip-flopping of the Dutch gov't, they lost out on their cruise and European experience - or at minimum, it got delayed.

Both these examples speak to travel in these Covid times. You have to be flexible and you have to be aware! We're covering "rules" for 30+ counties for folks traveling in the next 30-60 days. (I have some friends monitoring 50+ countries!). So yes, you can travel in these challenging times, but you have to stay on top of the changes - especially as your departure date nears. Compounding the issue for you is that you'll be traveling between countries - so you'll need to know the entry rules for each, depending on where you're coming from..... (cont.)

Posted by
2142 posts

Do book refundable hotels, activities, transfers, etc., and KNOW your "drop-dead dates" to cancel if necessary. And most importantly, stay on top of "what's happening" where you're going. This forum and other online forum options are great places to jog you into action, but always verify anything you see or hear on a government site.

The NL government site can be a little confusing - and sometimes seems to contradict itself. (This could be because I am reading the English-language version). And you really have to create links to specific pages so you can stay on top of the changes. We RARELY quote policy - we send links! That way if the rules change, the link either provides the update or doesn't work (Either way, it's a red flag). I like to use the Schiphol Airport site to decipher some of the NL government info. I find it easier to read, but I always go back to the gov't site to get the published "restrictions."

We also use local newspapers - translated into English online - so we can review the press conferences where the policies are announced. Here, the press conferences/announcements are published also on Youtube, but those are in Dutch so we rely more on the online translations. There are a couple of local websites we use which also provide us with some additional info. As you can see, it's an involved process. For our most popular destinations (Italy, France, Spain, UK, Portugal, etc), fortunately, we're able to share info with each other via Slack and other internal communication systems. That helps us stay on top of multiple country rules.

In these COVID times, you'll have to develop your own system. Or you can hire a TA to do it for you. Yes, you can travel in these challenging times, but you have to be more aware and more flexible. Geez, I miss the good-ole-days of travel... just two years ago!