The Festival Insider Guide to COVID Regulations in Europe
As of August 30, the WHO reported 5 billion cumulative doses of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines have been administered globally, and almost 2 billion people have received at least one dose, and 1 billion are fully vaccinated. This is great news for many who are looking forward to traveling and enjoying live events abroad before the year's end.
In the US, the federal government has issued a recommended set of safety guidelines for the events industry but with the shocking rise of COVID-19’s Delta variant, many state leaders continue to grapple with how to safely host live shows and festivals.
Some states in the US, Canada, and Mexico, have opted to reopen completely and remove their mask mandates for some gatherings, but the rules differ vastly for different states and regions in Northern America—many are requiring proof of vaccination and/or negative rapid tests for entry along with requiring mask mandates.
To get a wider perspective on how events are faring internationally, we compiled a list of several European countries and their live event statuses. Safe travels!
Based on where you travel in Croatia, many businesses may require you to wear a mask indoors unless seated in a restaurant or coffee shop. Larger venues are requiring visitors to present a negative COVID-19 test or proof of complete vaccination. Please note, some nightclubs or concert halls offer onsite rapid testing services as well, not gratis. Though there is currently a temporary ban for travelers from certain countries deemed “high-risk,” some may still be able to enter Croatia based on a set of criteria, published here.
Travelers rejoice! The Czech Republic has only a “moderate” level of COVID-19 in the country, though travelers are still recommended to arrive fully vaccinated before entering. The Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic has a detailed guide outlining current entrance policies, viewable here.
Visitors who wish to travel to Denmark are required to undergo mandatory testing and 2 weeks of isolation. The Danes have published a helpful choose-your-own-adventure type of guide, which offers in extensive detail how to go about traveling in the country fully vaccinated, previously infected, or with a negative COVID test. The guide is up to date and available for viewing here.
Surprisingly, Estonia has no COVID restrictions provided you wear a mask or present a vaccination card or negative rapid test result at any cafe, spa, museum, or event you attend. Masks are mandatory at shops and while using public transportation. The country advises future travellers to view this guide for any questions or concerns they may have about safely visiting Estonia during the pandemic:
Great news for travelers to Finland, you’re allowed in if you have proof of a complete vaccination. Bad news for non-natives, there is a high risk of COVID and as such, only vaccinated travelers are advised to visit. Face masks are required to use public transportation and travel through spaces with high foot traffic. Social distancing is currently enforced at all live events and large gatherings, and good hand and respiratory hygiene are highly encouraged. In high-risk areas, you’ll see many restaurants, shops and cafes requiring customers to wash or sanitize their hands before entering. Establishments in areas of increased COVID risk are closed.
More up-to-date information may be found here.
Capacity limits have been officially lifted for all establishments unless local authorities deem the event or the event’s capacity unsafe, though it largely depends on the area you are in. France presently requires visitors to present a health pass to access indoor events hosting more than 50 people. Beginning in August, the health pass is required for all who wish to enter bars, clubs, and restaurants, or board planes, trains and coaches. Read more about the french health pass from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The EU’s latest travel ban has been instituted in Germany as well, for travellers from countries with areas of variant concern—check to see if your country is on the international risk area list before making plans to visit Germany. If you’re not traveling from one of the “high-risk” countries and you’re fully vaccinated, you’ll have to self-isolate for 2 weeks. Many events have been cancelled and venues are closed in high-risk areas. More information on entry restrictions and quarantine regulations in Germany can be found here.
The country is facing another COVID wave, so it’s advised that travellers completely vaccinate before arriving in Greece. Before you cross the Greek border, you’ll have to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF). The form is a record of where you’ve been prior to entering the country and addresses where you plan to stay during your time there. As of mid-September, you must show proof of vaccination to enter event venues, bars and restaurants across Greece—these measures are expected to remain in place until March of next year. Greece’s General Secretariat for Civil Protection has provided an in-depth guide for those who wish to visit the country at this time, viewable here.
As of right now, only Hungarian citizens and their relatives may enter Hungary. Though the CDC hasn’t deemed the country high-risk for COVID spread, they are being cautious. For those already in the country, you’ll be pleased to know that masks aren’t officially required to be worn indoors or outdoors. However, proof of vaccination is still required for large group gatherings taking place at clubs, bars, concerts, and festivals. You can learn more about the travel advisory here.
On August 27, the government of Iceland issued a statement on capacity limits, reiterating that the number of people allowed at large gatherings would remain capped at 200 people, until September 17. Additionally, after September 3, up to 500 people may attend an event provided they show a negative result from a rapid antigen test, so expect to see more festivals and events spring up around the country before the year is over. Social distancing and face masks in public spaces and at indoor and outdoor events continue to be non-negotiable as well. The latest details on gathering restrictions in Iceland can be found here.
Within three days of arriving in the country, you must present a negative COVID test, fully vaccinated or not. Unvaccinated travelers must also quarantine for an additional 5 days and then test once more, even if they received a negative result prior. In addition, you’ll be asked to fill out a passenger locator form to aid contact tracers in the event there is a COVID outbreak. These requirements will remain in place until at least Oct. 25, the government said on Tuesday. Information about the requirements and other health measures being implemented by Italy can be found here.
If you are completely vaccinated, you may enjoy a vacation in any gorgeous region in Spain, and even travel inter-regionally if you’d like! Cultural highlights like Madrid, Seville, Ibiza and Barcelona will allow you to enter their resorts, museums, and music festivals provided you promise to maintain your distance and wear a mask if required by the venue owner. The country recently approved a “traffic light system” for regions that may have additional restrictions in certain risky areas. It’s less complicated than it sounds—view all area restrictions in each region at Spain’s helpful tourism website.
Thanks to rising cases of the Delta variant, you’ll need to present proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test to carouse on this lovely island off the Spanish coast. The Spanish government has color-coded the island as amber which means that you won’t get to party as hard as you’d like due to COVID mandates. However, you may still enjoy many of the restaurants and the gorgeous coastal views with little to no restrictions. One thing to note: Spain is requiring visitors to fill out a health control form upon arrival—this is useful for contact tracing, in case you get sick. After filling out the form, you’ll receive a QR code which you’ll have to scan at various control points around the island and on the mainland, too.
The health control form and more information about the arrival procedure can be found here.
Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal
Currently, there is a pretty serious ban in place for non-essential travel purposes from any country that is considered high-risk for COVID infections. Important to note, many large-scale festivals and annual events in the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Portugal have been canceled or postponed until further notice. To gain entry into bars, events, restaurants, or sports activities still operating in low-risk areas, a mask and proof of vaccination are required.
Information relating to tourism and recreation in the Netherlands during this time, can be found here.
Norwegian government’s travel advisory and COVID restriction information can be found here
For the latest Polish travel information and rules click here
Information about COVID-19 measures currently being implemented in Portugal can be found here.
Travellers will need to show a negative COVID-19 test result within 48 hours prior to entering the country’s borders. In general, businesses in Sweden are open but social distancing still applies—all businesses are taking precautions to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. The government currently limits the number of participants allowed at most events, which largely depends on whether the event takes place indoors or outdoors, and whether the participants have designated seats. For Indoor arrangements without seating, only 50 participants are allowed—with seating, 300 participants. For outdoor events sans seating, 600 participants may partake in the festivities. Outdoors, with seating provided? 3,000 participants are allowed.
Click here for more information about Covid-19 restrictions and regulations in Sweden:
The government has instituted the requirement of a digital COVID certificate and depending on which event or venue you’d like to enter, proof of one is required. These COVID certificates are easily navigable on a smartphone and they show proof of vaccination and your latest, hopefully negative, test result. Since June 26, the country’s federal council has applied an “open movement” approach within its borders. Clubs and large-scale events have been given the green light to welcome patrons once more, with proof of a COVID certificate of course. There is no mask requirement to dine at a restaurant or when attending outdoor events. In addition, outdoor events also have no COVID restrictions if a digital certificate is presented at entry. Switzerland’s government offers more guidance on their official website.
The UK has some of the most marvelous, tourist-friendly cities in Europe. But, tourist-friendly countries have seen a rise in COVID cases since July. Recently, the UK has begun to crack down on visitors traveling from high-risk countries. Presently, all travelers must show a negative COVID test, taken within 72 hours of arriving in the country—failure to do so will result in a hefty fine. If you’re coming from an amber or green country and you’re fully vaccinated, you’ll only have to show your proof of an acceptable vaccination (Moderna, Oxford, and Pfizer are only allowed, currently) and you may start your vacation! Around the UK, you’ll notice many live events still taking place outdoors but with smaller, controlled capacities and mask requirements. While the coronavirus poses an incredible risk, enjoying what the UK has to offer is still possible in these times for those that are careful and vaccinated. UK officials have a very useful website with the latest information on restrictions and travel.