Dutch Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge has announced that all international travellers visiting the country will be required to have received a Covid booster shot from February 2022.
Alongside the new restrictions, the government will also shorten the validity of Covid-19 vaccination certificates for inbound travellers from one year to nine months.
It is expected that travellers who fail to meet the requirements of the new rules may still be permitted to enter, but will be required to adhere to additional rules.
The decision follows the recommendation of the European Union (EU) Commission that EU Digital Covid Vaccination Passports should only remain valid for up to nine months after the second vaccination dose, unless a booster jab is administered.
Reduced validity periods for Austria and the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has also announced plans to reduce the validity period of Covid-19 vaccination certificates to nine months following the bearer’s last vaccination from January 2022, also citing the EU Commission’s recommendations.
Meanwhile, Austria has already introduced the new nine-month validity period, with the new rules coming into force on 6 December.
The Austrian government has also confirmed that that it will no longer recognise those inoculated with the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine to be fully vaccinated under the certificate scheme from 4 January 2022, following which such individuals will be required to receive a booster jab.
However, individuals who have received full vaccination using any European Medicines Agency (EMA) and World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccines will continue to be recognised as fully vaccinated.
Austria and the Czech Republic were among the first European countries to reintroduce Covid restrictions in November ahead of the current wave in cases on the continent – a situation which has now been further exacerbated by the growing case numbers of the fast-spreading Omicron variant in the region.
Booster jabs could become a standard requirement in 2022
The Netherlands’ decision to restrict the movement of travellers without a booster jab from next February is the exception rather than the rule at present. However, in an interview with Sky News, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has stated that he expects booster vaccines to become a standard entry requirement for international travellers in 2022.
Shapps said that: “I speak to my opposite numbers, transport secretaries from around the world, and they’re saying we’re going to switch to requiring people to have that third jab before they are able to come into their country, so I think eventually it becomes inevitable because other countries require it for us. I don’t know what that time will be, not this year.”
The move could be interpreted as part of a growing trend in many countries to shift existing Covid border entry measures away from heavy, broad restrictions towards a more individual approach which excludes unvaccinated travellers or prioritises fully vaccinated ones. This preferential treatment may be expanded in future to prioritise individuals who have received booster vaccines as boosters become more widespread.