Summer vacation: Here’s how COVID rules differ between some popular European destinations


After months of planning, the rules for non-essential international travel have been relaxed.

The EU’s new COVID digital certificate brings countries in the bloc together under one system, allowing people to spend vacations without isolating themselves if they have been fully vaccinated, have recently recovered from COVID-19, or have had a negative PCR test.

However, those going on a vacation in the sun should be prepared for a few small differences in how different countries are implementing the new rules.

Michelle Walsh Jackson – Travel Expert with – spoke to The Pat Kenny Show on some of these differences.

The essential advice is that those traveling abroad should check the Reopen the EU app or website, who will keep you up to date with the often rapid rule changes in each country.


Spain is the number one holiday destination for Irish people, but Michelle explained that across the country the rules will not have the same rules when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions.

She said: “There are 17 regions – including the Canary Islands – and they all operate with a different status.

“In Tenerife, for example, last week four people were allowed to dine indoors with a certificate. Small islands have a lower case rate, so you can see six people [allowed].

“As cases increase you will see variation in regions – I think Catalonia just introduced a nighttime curfew. You won’t have the same choice with hotels either. [as usual] – many chains only operate, say, 50% of their hotels.

“There is good news with Spain: in some areas they offer COVID insurance to protect visitors. If you fall ill, they will cover your costs … if you are on a package [deal] and stay in accommodation.

Currently, restaurants and bars in Spain are only open until 11:00 p.m., which means an evening may not be as long and leisurely as it usually is.


Portugal, meanwhile, is one of the countries offering rapid antigen testing to facilitate indoor dining – it will only take 20 minutes to complete a test, costing around € 3 or just € 4. .

Again, there will be different rules in different parts of the country, and things could change quickly depending on whether a region is considered level one (very high risk) or level two (high risk).

Michelle explained: “They will have short-term closures, usually in very small areas – like around Lisbon, where there might be meat factories or something like that.

“I wouldn’t be so worried about the Algarve. They got through the COVID crisis very well. “

A negative test or digital certificate will be required to eat / drink / stay indoors in high-risk areas, although the rules are not as strict for outdoor dining (up to six people per dining table). outside, versus up to four inside).

Some rules also differ on weekdays versus weekends – while stores can stay open until 9 p.m. on weekdays, there are earlier closing times on weekends depending on the type of store.


Greece is another favorite destination for Irish tourists, and those who fly over now should expect different rules depending on where they go.

Michelle said: “Crete has a fairly high case density, while the Cyclades – which are the islands between Athens and Crete – [has] very different operations between the different islands.

“Thursday, for example, Ios was pretty locked out and there was no live music. Live music now has [also] been arrested in Mykonos – this changed quite quickly.

“I can’t stress the importance of referring to individual websites to see how things are going. But [Greece] is very open for business – seems to be in a pretty good mood as you have alfresco dining and everyone is enjoying the beach scene. “

Tourists will need a digital certificate or negative rapid antigen test to attend nightclubs (in areas where they are open).


Michelle said Italy is doing better than many other countries when it comes to epidemic control – indeed, the whole country is currently considered a “green zone” on the travel map. ‘EU.

Michelle explained: “I was talking to Top Flight, and they were very optimistic for the Lake Garda region and Sicily.

“There are the usual restrictions and reservations must be made.

“The areas that had the most problems were around Sorrento and Naples. But they seem to be doing a little better. “

In many parts of Italy, bars and restaurants are currently open indefinitely – although indoor nightclubs remain closed for the time being.

A key thing to remember for all of the above destinations is that many parts of your vacation will not return to pre-pandemic normal.

Mask rules remain in place for shops, supermarkets and public transport across the EU.

Tourists may also find themselves having to reserve their lounge chairs by the pool or on the beach, due to the maintenance of social distancing rules.

Main Image: People sunbathe and swim at the beach on a hot afternoon in Sesimbra, Portugal. Photo by: Petro Fiuza / Xinhua News Agency / PA Images

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