Covid case numbers rise in popular travel destinations for Irish tourists

Spain, Greece, France and Italy have varying levels of restrictions in place

A man drives a tourists shuttle in front of the Mont-Saint-Michel, in Normandy, France. Cinemas, museums and sports venues began asking visitors to furnish proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative test. Photograph: Getty Images

A man drives a tourists shuttle in front of the Mont-Saint-Michel, in Normandy, France. Cinemas, museums and sports venues began asking visitors to furnish proof of Covid-19 vaccination or a negative test. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Since the reopening of non-essential international travel in July, Irish tourists have been travelling to popular holiday destinations, including Spain, France, Italy and Greece. But as case numbers are on the rise around Europe, what do you need to know before you decide to book a trip?

Those who are fully vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months, or who present a negative Covid-19 test taken during a set period prior to departure can travel within the European Union, as well as to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, without having to quarantine.

However, each country has varying levels of restrictions in place upon arrival.

Some parts of Spain have been marked as dark red on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) Covid-19 map after a rise in infections. Destinations now in the red zone include Ibiza, Minorca and Palma.

Restrictions including curfews, limits on the number of people who can dine indoors together, as well as limits on overall capacity, have been reimposed.

Face coverings are required to be worn in enclosed public spaces in the country as well as social distancing of 1.5m.

Rising case numbers in Spain have resulted in talks in the United Kingdom about placing the country under an “amber plus” category which would mean holidaymakers returning would be subject to mandatory quarantine.

Greece’s south Aegean Islands were also marked dark red on the ECDC’s Covid-19 map on Thursday.

All but essential travel to and from the region, including 13 of Greece’s most popular island destinations for foreign tourists – Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes – is discouraged. Anyone travelling in Greece is required to wear face masks in all indoor public spaces, proof of vaccination is required to sit inside restaurants and bars, and there are restrictions on the number of people who can sit together.

Mandatory

Meanwhile in France, major tourist attractions as well as nightclubs, concerts and events have already returned but due to a high number of Covid-19 cases, a valid health pass such as an EU digital certificate has been obligatory for visits to museums, cinemas in cultural venues with a capacity of more than 50 people, and will soon be mandatory for cafes and some transport. To qualify for a valid health pass, people must have two jabs from a recognised vaccine, a negative coronavirus test or a recent recovery from infection.

From next week, France will enforce new legislation that will make the health pass compulsory to visit a cafe, board a plane or travel on an inter-city train. Face masks are required indoors for anyone over the age of 11.

Currently, passengers travelling to Italy may enter the country without an EU digital certificate. After August 12th, it will be mandatory that all passengers travelling to Italy have the cert for travel.

Passengers that travel in August without certs will be subject to self-isolation once they land in Italy.

“If you are unable to obtain an EU digital Covid certificate, you may enter Italy until August 12th, but you must provide valid proof of either a certificate of vaccination with an EMA-approved (European Medicines Agency) vaccine, a certificate of recovery from Covid-19, or a pre-departure negative Covid-19 PCR test taken up to 48 hours before arriving in Italy,” a statement on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Irish citizens travelling to Italy must also fill out a passenger locator form. Social distancing is required in indoor public spaces, as well as masks for all except children under six.

All passengers arriving back to Ireland following a trip abroad are required to complete a passenger locator form, and have proof of vaccination or recovery from the virus, or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.