How Omicron is hitting travel to Europe

Several European countries have been forced into lockdown over the past few days as the highly-contagious Omicron variant continues to spread at an alarming rate.

As more and more restrictions are brought in, travel to and across Europe is becoming increasingly difficult for tourists, particularly those from the UK, where cases have skyrocketed. The Netherlands entered a strict lockdown on Sunday, with nonessential shops, hospitality venues and cultural institutions all closing and indoor gatherings limited to a maximum of two visitors. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte described the move as “unavoidable” due to the surge in infections around the country.

“The Netherlands is again shutting down. That is unavoidable because of the fifth wave that is coming at us with the Omicron variant,” Rutte said during a news conference at the weekend. The decision came just days after Germany announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine on all travelers arriving from the UK beginning on December 20. Meanwhile, France has placed a ban on all nonessential visitors to and from the UK in a bid to ease the spread of the new variant. The move came as many UK tourists were preparing to travel for the start of the Alpine ski season.

“As the Omicron variant spreads extremely quickly in the United Kingdom, the French government has decided to re-implement compelling reasons for travels from and to the United Kingdom, and to reinforce mandatory tests at departures and arrivals,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex said in statement last week. On Saturday, more than 90,000 Covid-19 cases were reported in the UK for the second day in a row, including more than 10,000 Omicron cases.