Multiple nations in the European Union now accept visitors who test negative for COVID-19 with rapid antigen tests. Previously, many countries barred entry without either proof of vaccination or negative PCR test results.
The distinction between antigen tests and PCR tests is a notable one.
PCR tests are highly accurate, but it can take days to receive results. Antigen tests produce results quickly and cheaply, but they’re far less accurate.
With many countries now accepting rapid antigen tests, each has set its own test-related guidelines. All nations limit how much time can pass between taking an antigen test and entering the country.
Test-related restrictions might seem arduous, but a negative COVID-19 test is not the only way to enter European countries. Providing proof of vaccination is more straightforward, and vaccination proof doesn’t expire within mere days.
Belgium is the most recent nation to accept antigen test results, but there are several more. In Belgium’s case, rapid antigen tests stay valid for up to one day after testing.
The following countries accept visitors who’ve tested negative within 24 hours before entry: Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Iceland.
Other countries have looser standards, accepting results from up to 48 hours before entry: Switzerland, Czechia, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece.
Not all EU countries accept antigen tests, however.
Slovenia only recognizes PCR results. Austria will join Slovenia on Nov. 22, when it will stop accepting rapid antigen test results.
That’s not the only change in Austria. Because of rising COVID-19 rates, the country has also re-instated full lockdown for residents.
On Nov. 15, Austrian hospital data showed approximately 894 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the prior week. In comparison, German data showed 303 emergent cases per 100,000 residents.