Netherlands lifts quarantine guidelines for (most) visitors from Sweden

Most travellers from Sweden are no longer being urged to self-quarantine when they visit the Netherlands, after Dutch authorities lifted their restrictions for all regions except one.

Netherlands lifts quarantine guidelines for (most) visitors from Sweden
Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. Photo: AP Photo/Peter Dejong

The Netherlands now classifies almost all of Sweden as 'yellow', with the exception of the Västra Götaland region which remains 'orange', meaning travellers from there are strongly advised to quarantine.

But anyone from Sweden's other 20 regions are no longer told to spend 14 days in quarantine when visiting the Netherlands, and Dutch residents visiting Sweden don't need to isolate on returning.

Self-quarantine can be done at home or a hotel. Quarantine is only “strongly advised”, and people visiting for certain reasons, for example urgent travel for family reasons such a funeral, are not asked to quarantine.

Face masks are mandatory on public transport in the Netherlands, but there is otherwise no general face mask requirement in the country. However, anyone visiting should be aware that local authorities are allowed to set their own rules, and anyone over the age of 13 who fail to respect the rules could receive a fine of €95.

There is no face mask requirement in Sweden, although some venues – for example most airports and the Karolinska Institutet university – have introduced their own guidelines on face masks. All visitors are expected to follow health and safety guidelines, such as keeping a distance and avoiding public transport if possible.

Sweden's foreign ministry's advice against non-essential travel to the Netherlands is currently in place until August 26th, although it could in theory be scrapped before then or extended. This is not mandatory, but disregarding the advice could affect the validity of your Swedish travel insurance.

The UK is one of several countries that still require Swedish travellers to self-isolate. This is mandatory for nearly everyone travelling from Sweden to the UK (read a list of exemptions here), and in England you can be fined £1,000 if you fail to do so or even up to £3,200 if you do not provide an accurate contact detail declaration.

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EXPLAINED: What’s behind the queues at Stockholm Arlanda airport?

Travellers are reporting queues over an hour long at Stockholm's Arlanda airport. What's going on and how long is it expected to last?

EXPLAINED: What's behind the queues at Stockholm Arlanda airport?

What’s the situation at Stockholm Arlanda airport? 

On Friday morning, there were queues lasting over an hour at Arlanda’s security controls. By 10am, they had been reduced to below half an hour, according to the live update the airport operator, Swedavia, maintains on its website here

Swedavia first began warning of long queue times on Monday, saying the queues were the result of a resurgence in travel combined with staffing shortages at Avarn, the contractor responsible for managing the security checks. 

“The wait times are due to a staff shortage with our security services contractor – which is caused by ongoing recruitment and absences due to illness,” the airport said on its website

What are travellers saying? 

Twitter is predictably awash with angry comments from travellers, including some well-known commentators. 

The terrorism researcher Magnus Ranstorp resorted to capital letters to bemoan the “CATASTROPHE” at the airport. 

The Financial Times’ Nordic Correspondent also compared the situation at Arlanda unfavourably with the smooth controls at Helsinki Airport

“Never seen anything like it and sounds like might be worse today. In Terminal 5 both queues, SAS and Norwegian, were well over 100 metres long,” he told The Local. “It took me 50 minutes to get through security. Don’t think it’s ever taken more than 10 in the Nordics before.” 

What should you do if you are travelling through Stockholm Arlanda at the moment? 

Swedavia recommends that you arrive “well in advance” when taking a flight. You can contact your airline here to find out when their check-ins and baggage drops open.  

Swedavia also recommends that you do everything possible to speed up the check-in process, such as:

  • checking in from home
  • packing hand baggage to make screening faster
  • checking the need for a face covering in advance
  • checking that you have the right travel documents ready 

If you can’t check in from home, Swedavia recommends seeing if you can check in using an automated machine at the airport.

What is the airport doing to to improve the situation? 

On June 15th, the airport is reopening Terminal 4, which might help somewhat, although the airport warns that as staffing is the major problem, having more space will not fully solve the problem over the summer. 

In a press release issued on Friday, Svedavia’s chief operations officer, Peder Grunditz, said opening a new terminal was “an important measure”. 

“We are now going to have the three biggest terminals back in operation for the first time since the pandemic,” he said. 

The company and Avarn are also making “big recruitment efforts” and taking “operational measures” to improve the queue situation, although the “challenging labour market” made that difficult. 

When will waiting times return to normal? 

In his press release, Grunditz conceded that waiting times were not likely to return to normal during the summer, due to the rapid growth in the number of people taking flights. 

“Even though we expect gradual improvements, the queuing situation is going to continue to be challenging during periods over the summer,” he said.