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COVID-19

Where in Europe are Covid curfews and early closures still in place?

Countries around Europe are starting to reopen as the Covid-19 crisis recedes - but many nations still have strict rules in place, including nighttime curfews. As people book holidays abroad, here's what visitors need to know about current nighttime restrictions in place around Europe.

Where in Europe are Covid curfews and early closures still in place?
In some parts of EUrope nighttime curfews and early closures are still in place. (Photo by Fred SCHEIBER / AFP)

France

France has been under a strict nighttime curfew since December 2020 and although the country is now gradually reopening, restrictions remain. 

Here’s a brief rundown, with key dates over the next couple of months.

May 19th – the start hour of the daily curfew moves from 7pm to 9pm, as restaurants and cafés reopen their terraces for the first time since October 2020. The finish time remains at 6am.

June 9th – curfew moves back to 11pm-6am if the health situation allows.

June 30th – Nighttime curfew is scrapped altogether if the health situation allows.

For individuals, being out during curfew hours in France is banned, barring certain exceptions – such as work, or urgent family reasons. A completed attestation or permission form is required for each trip out after curfew. The form is available on the Tousanticovid app or HERE

Anyone caught outside during curfew hours without good reason could face a fine of €135 for the first offence, rising to €200 for a second offence and maximum of €3,750 and a six-month jail term for three offences within 30 days.

Check The Local France for regularly updated information.

Spain

Spain’s state of alarm ended, and a national 10pm curfew was lifted, on May 9th – leading to the bizarre spectacle of police moving people on at 10pm on May 8th and allowing them back out two hours later, when the ban on overnight movement was lifted. 

But while curfews and border closures have been abolished in most regions, there are still some restrictions in place – including the use of masks in all regions. 

You can read a rundown of different Covid-19 rules in Spain’s regions here

Check The Local Spain for regularly updated information.

Italy

On May 17th Italy approved a new curfew allowing people to circulate in the evenings one hour longer after the country saw its lowest coronavirus deaths in months.

As a result the 10pm-5am curfew, which has been in effect in most of Italy since November, was pushed back to 11pm, while in-restaurant dining will be allowed until 6pm from June 1st under new rules.

The curfew — intended to discourage social gatherings that could risk an upswell in new coronavirus infections — will be pushed back to midnight beginning on June 7th, and eliminated entirely on June 21st.

In Italy’s “white zones”, where infection rates are lowest, there is no curfew in place.

Italy has scrapped quarantine requirements for visitors from the European Union, Britain and Israel who test negative for coronavirus.

Under rules that came into force from Sunday, May 16th, Italy will extend so-called “Covid-free” flights, currently in place to and from the United States, to Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

But what visitors can expect when they get to Italy remains unanswered. 

and a mask-wearing requirement in public, indoors and outdoors. Though some things are expected to change, it seems likely restrictions will be tougher than they were in summer 2020.

Wearing a mask, sanitising your hands and keeping distanced from others are almost certain to remain required throughout the summer.

Check The Local Italy for regularly updated information.

Austria

Austria’s nighttime curfew from 8pm to 6am ended at midnight on May 15th, having been in place since December. 

Restaurants, hotels, schools, sport, events and swimming pools in Austria reopen on May 19th – with strict rules in place and an early closing time of 10pm which will remain in place for the foreseeable future.  Entry rules for EU travellers will also change. 

Special measures set to be in place this summer include an FFP2 mask requirement in all public indoor areas, such as public transport, in museums, shops, and on cable cars. 

For such as restaurants, cinemas, hotels or theatres where large numbers of people congregate, a so-called “entry test” will be required. You will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, a vaccination, or recent recovery from Covid.

Check The Local Austria for regularly updated information.

Denmark

Denmark moved into the third phase of lifting travel restrictions on Friday, May 14th, meaning tourists from the EU and Schengen countries can now enter the country. 

Travellers from “yellow” countries outside the EU, including the UK, also no longer need a “worthy purpose”, as the country opens up for summer tourists.

Gyms, theatres and cinemas reopened on May 7th thanks to a new round of Covid-19 restriction easing in Denmark and its health pass – called a “corona pass”.

There is no general curfew in place, but cafes, bars and restaurants must stop service at 10pm and establishments must be closed from 11pm until 5am.

Check The Local Denmark for regularly updated information.

Germany

As a federal state, Germany’s rules on restrictions are different from state to state, so it is worthwhile checking the rules in the region you are planning to visit before you travel. 

READ ALSO: Germany eases quarantine rules with eye on summer travel

In April, it had introduced national “emergency brake” rules for areas with high Covid-19 rates. If the number of new infections per 100,000 residents in a rolling seven-day period rises above 100 in a city or district for three days in a row, measures including local lockdowns and overnight curfews must be applied.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the latest rules on travel to and from Germany

A night-time curfew would be introduced between 10pm and 5am in areas with an incidence above 100 under the rules. Some of these may still be in effect in early summer, though the good news is coronavirus rates are falling in Germany.

Essential shops like supermarkets, drugstores and pharmacies remain open. In areas with a 7-day incidence of 100, they will have to close at 10pm.

Check The Local Germany for regularly updated information

Norway

Covid-19 measures in Norway are broken down into a mixture of local and national restrictions and recommendations.

Although there’s no national curfew, after the government scrapped plans to introduce legislation permitting their use in February, all municipalities in the country must adhere to national rules. 

Additionally, they can also introduce and enforce local rules such as curfews or alcohol bans. It’s worth checking the rules in the municipality where you are travelling to, but in general bars and restaurants can only serve alcohol up to 10pm although this may be relaxed further in the coming weeks.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg was forced to cancel a May 17th speech in Bergen because of coronavirus restrictions in her home municipality, Oslo. She had been fined in April for breaking national Covid-19 rules.

Check The Local Norway for regularly updated information.

Sweden

Sweden never fully locked down during the pandemic, but some restrictions have been imposed at various points in the past year. 

The country’s Public Health Agency has floated a plan for how Sweden should adapt its coronavirus restrictions. Among its proposals are that – from June 1st – restaurants, bars and pubs will be able to open until 10.30pm, two hours later than the current closing time of 8.30pm. 

Check The Local Sweden for regularly updated information.

Switzerland

Switzerland has decided to further wind back coronavirus restrictions – including allowing restaurants to serve food indoors and letting larger events take place – from May 31st. 

Similar to Sweden, there is no current nationwide coronavirus curfew in place, but restaurants and take aways must be closed between 11pm and 6am. 

Cantons may have additional cantonal specific measures. You will find a collection of links to canton-by-canton information sites at www.ch.ch

Check The Local Switzerland for regularly updated information.

Greece

Greece has recently lifted most of its restrictions on movement, and has declared “we are putting the lockdown behind us” as it looks to welcome tourists for the summer – but a curfew remains in place between 12.30am and 5am.

Portugal

The Portuguese government has extended its state of calamity until May 30th – though tourists are allowed to visit, which is good news for English football fans planning to head to the Champions Cup final.

General rules include cafés, restaurants and events closing at 10.30pm, and retail stores closed at 9pm on weekdays and 7pm on weekends and holidays.

Restrictions for the entire country include compulsory face masks in enclosed public spaces as well as in crowded outdoor spaces.

Ireland

There’s no overnight curfew in Ireland, but other strict measures have limited travel. 

As of this week, however, unrestricted county-to-county travel returned, hairdressers’ and churches reopened and sports training started up again. From next week, non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen.

From June 2nd, hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation will reopen and guests will be free to use leisure facilities, indoor dining and bar services.

Outdoor service will start up in bars and restaurants with safety measures in place from June 7th.

At the end of June, the government will consider allowing indoor dining at restaurants along with the reopening of bars, nightclubs and casinos.

UK

There is no general overnight curfew in place, and on May 17th restrictions were eased further including the reopening of indoor dining and drinking areas and larger outside events – as reported here by the BBC.

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For members

ECONOMY

From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

Austria’s lucrative winter season has already been hit by pandemic restrictions for the past two years. But this year there is also record inflation, staff shortages and an energy crisis to deal with.

From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria's winter season

The winter season in Austria is a big driver of the country’s economy and has been hit hard by Covid-19 restrictions for the past two winters.

But this year the industry faces an even bigger crisis – a combination of rising inflation, concerns over energy supplies, staff shortages and the pandemic (because it’s not over yet).

We took a closer look to find out how these issues could impact the industry and what we could expect from this year’s winter season in Austria.

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Inflation

Winter sports is a big guzzler of energy to operate ski lifts, apres ski venues and snow making machines. 

This means the industry is in a vulnerable position as energy prices rise, with some resort operators already confirming they will have to pass on some costs to customers.

Johann Roth, Managing Director at Präbichl in Styria, said that energy costs at the resort have tripled and admitted he is concerned about the coming winter season.

Roth told the Kronen Zeitung: “Of course we will have to increase the ticket prices, and to an extent that has never been seen in recent years.”

READ MORE: Cost of living: Why are restaurants getting more expensive in Austria?

At Planai ski resort in Schladming, Styria, Director Georg Bliem said they aim to keep the day ticket price under €70, but has also set up an energy task force to find cost-saving measures for this year. 

Suggestions for Planai include narrower slopes, reduced snowmaking capabilities, shorter cable car operating times and even a delayed start to the season.

Electricity costs at Planaibahn (the resort’s ski lift and gondola operator) were already at €3 million before the current energy crisis, according to the Kronen Zeitung.

Then there are hospitality businesses and hotels at ski resorts that are also being hit by rising costs.

As a result, the Kurier reports that room prices in overnight accommodation could increase by a further 15 percent in winter, and many people will no longer be able to afford skiing holidays.

Heating may be an issue in winter as the energy crisis looms (Photo by Achudh Krishna on Unsplash)

Energy

Rising prices are just one element of the energy crisis as there are fears that Austria will not have enough gas for the coming winter season – mostly due to the war in Ukraine.

In March, Austria activated the early warning system – which is the first level of a three-step emergency plan – for the country’s gas supply. If it reaches step three (emergency level), energy control measures will be put in place across the country.

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How this would impact ski resorts is unknown, but at the emergency level, households, essential industries and infrastructure would be prioritised for energy.

So far, there is no indication that step two (alert level) will be activated and the European Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory recently confirmed that Austria’s gas storage capacity was 60 percent full

Austria’s goal is to reach 80 percent capacity by November 1st in order to have a safety reserve.

However, Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler already appealed to businesses and households in July to start saving energy where possible.

Staff shortages

Ever since Austria (and Europe) started opening up after Covid-19 lockdowns, the hospitality and tourism industries have been struggling to find staff.

In fact, shortly before the start of the summer season in Austria, there were 30,000 open job vacancies in the tourism sector. And the Wiener Zeitung recently reported on how restaurants in Vienna are struggling to keep up with customer demand due to staff shortages. 

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The issue is even being discussed in parliament and it has already been made easier for seasonal workers in Austria to access residency through changes to the Red-White-Red card. 

Now, there are expectations of similar staff shortages for the winter season, which could cause further stress for ski resort operators.

Covid-19

Back in July, it was reported that the federal government was working on a Covid-19 contingency plan to get the country through another autumn and winter.

It envisages four scenarios – numbered from the best to the worst case. In the best case scenario, Austrians can live free of any pandemic rules. In the second best scenario, the situation will remain as it is (find out more about Austria’s latest Covid-19 rules here).

In scenario three, if new variants lead to more severe illness, the mask requirement will be expanded and more testing will be carried out.

READ MORE: REVEALED: The Covid-19 measures for the start of the Austrian school year

There could even be night-time curfews, entry tests and restrictions on private meetings. In addition, major events could be stopped from taking place and nightclubs closed.

Scenario four, the worst case scenario, would mean vaccination no longer offered protection and hospitals became overwhelmed, leading to severe restrictions on people’s social lives.

From what we’ve seen over the past two winters, scenarios three and four would likely impact winter sports operations. But to what degree would depend on the severity of the situation.

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