Only a handful of passengers were on board the first flights and ferries from the UK to the Netherlands on Wednesday morning, after the Dutch government lifted its blanket travel ban.
Only three groups of passengers with private vehicles crossed the North Sea on the morning ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland, while a few dozen more took the Eurostar high-speed train from London to Amsterdam, NOS reported. All flights had been cancelled from 6am on Sunday morning while ferry traffic was suspended on Monday.
Travellers now have to produce printed evidence of a negative coronavirus test result from within the last 72 hours before they can board a boat or plane from Britain. The rule applies to all passengers over the age of 12. People arriving in the Netherlands are also strongly advised to quarantine for the first 10 days of their stay.
The requirement was introduced following the emergence of a new variant of coronavirus which is said to be around 70% more infectious than previously known forms. Two cases of the new variant, which is particularly prevalent in London and the south-east of England, have been detected in Amsterdam.
‘Anyone who does not have a negative test declaration will be denied boarding. This also applies to Dutch and EU citizens returning from the United Kingdom or South Africa,’ the government said in a statement.
‘In addition, the government has decided to introduce a further requirement as soon as possible which will make the negative PCR test declaration mandatory for all passengers – including Dutch and EU nationals – entering the Netherlands from abroad.’ No date for that has yet been set.
— Dutch Embassy London (@NLinUK) December 22, 2020
The rule requiring passengers to submit a negative test declaration before the start of their trip has been in effect since December 15 for people living outside the EU and was due to be expanded to include Britain from January 1.
The government has also reiterated that people should not travel abroad at all unless strictly necessary.
The ban on travel from Britain was imposed on Sunday, stranding hundreds of people, including many students, who were trying to get to the Netherlands for Christmas. The Netherlands introduced the measure in an effort to keep out a new strain of coronavirus which is said to be more contagious and which is rampant in Britain.
The ban spread quickly to most other EU countries, causing chaos at French and English ports, and leading the European Commission on Tuesday to urge member states to rethink.
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