Quarantine hotel UK South Africa

Border closures and lockdowns return in Europe. Photo: Unsplash

Wings clipped? Lockdowns and border closures threaten European travels

International travels in December might prove challenging or impossible with renewed lockdowns and border closures in several countries.

Quarantine hotel UK South Africa

Border closures and lockdowns return in Europe. Photo: Unsplash

South African nationals have been banned from entering a long list of countries such as Singapore, Japan, Australia and New Zealand for just short of two years.

There were some positive developments for us earlier this year with a handful of nations reopening their borders to South African nationals from around August after the Beta variant had been reclassified and several countries in Southern African were downgraded from virus variant areas to high-risk areas.

Germany, Switzerland and Austria reopened their borders to South African nationals this year. Airlines including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates Airlines also started accepting South African nationals back onto their flights in the second half of this year.   

It seems that the tide is turning again, with rising Covid-19 infection rates in numerous countries. Revised lockdowns and border closures will make trips to some destinations impossible or filled with obstacles, in light of these developments.


According to CNN Austria has become the first European nation to reimpose a national lockdown this winter. This means tourism will be temporarily suspended, according to the country’s official travel portal. Austria also plans to become the first country in Europe to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all.  

Austrian authorities have imposed a nationwide lockdown after a rise in the number of infections in that country. The lockdown means that travel to Austria will not be possible for a period of 20 days – unless for essential purposes.

In Austria, due to the current Coronavirus infection situation, a temporary lockdown will come into effect from November 22 until December 13 at the latest. Travel to Austria for touristic purposes will only be possible again after this period,” Austria’s official travel website states.


Neighbouring Germany is also battling a surge in Covid infections. German authorities will introduce restrictions for unvaccinated people in areas with high hospital admissions and the parliament has backed requirements for people to show Covid passes on buses and trains, and in workplaces.

CNN reports that Munich’s famous Christmas market has been cancelled for the second consecutive year and that Berlin has banned unvaccinated people from entering entertainment venues, restaurants and bars. As yet, there are no indications of whether Germany’s borders will be closed to overseas nationals.


Authorities in the Republic of Ireland have also announced revised restrictions as Covid-19 infection rates rise across the country. New measures have been introduced in an effort to keep Ireland’s economy and society open, and to keep its people healthy and safe.

Rte News states that the latest Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland include a curfew and reverting to working from home.


The Netherlands has reimposed a partial lockdown while Norway has imposed quarantine requirements for arriving visitors from parts of France, Spain, Portugal, Finland and Sweden.  

The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed Hungary, Iceland and the Czech Republic on high alert as a result of rising Covid-19 infections in these countries.