Visitors from outside the EU face having to take daily coronavirus tests even if they have been fully vaccinated when the corona pass system goes live on September 25.
The Dutch CoronaCheck app only recognises vaccines that are compatible with the European Digital Coronavirus Certificate, including a handful of non-EU countries such as Norway and Turkey.
Tourists from other countries, including the UK and the US, will not be able to use their domestic Covid apps at restaurants, cafes, sporting venues and theatres in the Netherlands.
It means they will have to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken in the previous 24 hours in order to eat out in a restaurant, drink in a bar or go to a football match. They can have a drink at a pavement cafe but will need a test certificate to use the indoor toilet.
Unlike other EU nations such as France and Belgium, where the local Covid pass recognise the British NHS app, the Dutch government has deferred to the EU when it comes to approving vaccine certificates from third countries.
However, as the UK has not yet started the process of having its Covid app recognised by the EU, the situation is unlikely to change in the near future.
There is a procedure for registering vaccine certificates from the NHS and other foreign health services in the Dutch Covid app, but it is only available to people living in the Netherlands who have a social security number (BSN).
Hospitality industry bosses are worried that the setback will hit the tourist trade just as mandatory quarantine is dropped for vaccinated travellers on September 22, with people choosing Paris or Brussels rather than Amsterdam for their autumn break.
A spokeswoman for industry body Koninklijk Horeca Nederland told DutchNews: ‘Without a BSN or digital access they can’t get a vaccine certificate, so they’ll have to test, test, test. It’s not an ideal situation.’
In 2019 visitors from the UK and US accounted for 24.6% of all overnight stays by foreign tourists to the Netherlands.
Tourists have been told on social media this week that they will have to take a free PCR test before they can enter bars, nightclubs and events from next Saturday. Tests can be booked by calling the corona testing hotline on 0800 1202.
Not everybody was put off by the prospect of taking daily tests during their holiday. Ian Ratcliffe said on Twitter: ‘We’re happy to get a test everyday if needed. Minor inconvenience but at least it’s free.’
A spokesman for the health ministry said the issue of recognising third countries’ vaccinations was a matter for the EU. ‘Regarding the DCC, decisions are being made at European level with countries outside the EU.
‘Countries have to go through a process to be connected to the DCC. The UK is not yet in this process so it is not included on the list [of prospective countries]. As we have said, people in the Netherlands can take free coronavirus tests.’
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