The Netherlands is loosening COVID border restrictions again on vaccinated travelers from high-risk areas such as the US and UK ©Koen Smilde/IAmAmsterdam
Vaccinated Americans are once again permitted to travel to the Netherlands without quarantine as the government makes a quick U-turn on border controls.
Less than two weeks after imposing quarantine for all travelers from the United States, regardless of vaccination status, the Netherlands is reversing that decision. From September 22, fully vaccinated US travelers will be permitted once again to travel to the Netherlands without quarantine, provided they can show proof of vaccination. In addition, they must get tested for COVID-19 before traveling and present a negative result to enter the Netherlands. The same entry protocols will apply to all vaccinated arrivals, aged 13 and over, from other "very high-risk" countries including the United Kingdom.
Social distancing will be scrapped from September 25 ©Cris Toala Olivares/IAMAmsterdam
But strict border controls apply to unvaccinated tourists from the US and the UK who cannot travel to the Netherlands for essential reasons. If they must travel, they're required to undergo mandatory quarantine and testing.
Rules are changing on the ground too. From September 25, a health pass, or proof of vaccination/recovery/negative COVID-19 result, will be required to enter venues such as restaurants, bars and theaters across the Netherlands. Travelers coming from the EU/Schengen area can use their EU digital COVID certificates as proof. Those coming from a non-EU country can show their official paper record as proof; for Americans that's the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) card and for British travelers it's the National Health Service (NHS) card.
On the day the health passes are introduced the Associated Press reports that social distancing will no longer be required in public spaces in the Netherlands. Mask rules are also relaxed and no longer required in shops and in other busy public spaces but people still must wear them on public transport and in airports.
A health pass will be required to access venues across the Netherlands from September 25 © poludziber / Getty Images
If you're planning a trip to the Dutch capital, you can expect some changes that aren't necessarily associated with the pandemic. Before Amsterdam faced coronavirus, it struggled with another plight: overtourism. The city, with a population of about 820,000, received a record 20 million international visitors in 2019 (about 55,000 per day) and was beginning to buckle under the weight of its popularity. Complaints started to rise from residents who were feeling locked out of their city by hordes of tourists, rubbish-strewn streets and tourist-centric shops, not to mention the increase of short-term vacation rentals in the city that were cited as a cause in rising house prices and rent.
Introducing the Netherlands
The pandemic gave the city a chance to reset and now Amsterdam is trying new tactics to balance its status as a top European destination for tourists and a liveable city for locals. Officials imposed new restrictions on short-term vacation rentals in the city center, in addition to banning tours in the Red Light District. From next year, it will ban non-residents from buying cannabis in the city's coffee shops too.
That's not all. In June, the city council launched an online campaign encouraging tourists to embrace the city's cultural heritage, but warned those who do not treat the city with respect to stay away.
"We do not want to go back to what we saw before the pandemic, where massive crowds in the Red Light District and the city’s entertainment areas caused a nuisance to residents," said the city council in a statement posted online. "Visitors who respect Amsterdam and the people of Amsterdam have always been welcome and will, of course, remain so. Visitors who treat our residents and heritage with disrespect are not welcome. The message we have for them is: 'don’t come to Amsterdam'."
This article was first published on June 28 and updated on September 16, 2021.
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