The number of European countries lifting travel bans to enable couples to reunite is snowballing. “Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Iceland, Austria, the Czech Republic & Switzerland allow reunions,” says the Love Is Not Tourism campaign.
That’s up from just one, Denmark, early in July.
Switzerland is the latest of seven EU or Schengen members opening borders for love. From August 3, anyone with a partner in Switzerland will be able to enter “if they can provide proof of the relationship,” the government confirms. This applies to any third country national “in a romantic relationship or other close partnership … Even if the couple is not married or in a registered partnership.”
Under the hashtags #LoveIsNotTourism #LoveIsEssential and #DoItLikeDenmark, the campaign to allow waivers for couples has gained huge international traction, garnering support from politicians and other public figures.
Propelled by social media, the “Love Is Not Tourism” lobby is mounting a concerted international crusade, to step up pressure on authorities. Little by little, the effects are being felt.
Backed by some 13,500 members, their cause has borne great fruits in Europe.
Rules Vary In Each Country: Here They Are
- DENMARK: The frontrunner in allowing lovers, fiancés and family to reunite. Read about the specific exemption conditions here.
- NORWAY: “Romantic partners and family members” can visit their loved ones from July 15, says the government. Partners must officially declare that the relationship has lasted 9 months, and that you have met in person at least once. You must also provide proof of a place to stay during the 10-day quarantine.
- NETHERLANDS: From July 27, the government says it has eased the entry ban for Dutch people in “a long-distance relationship with someone from a country that is subject to an entry ban by corona.” This also applies to EU and Swiss residents in the country. Partners can stay a maximum of 90 days in 6 months. Rules stipulate relationships must date at least 3 months and for couples to have seen each other twice, prior to corona entry bans coming into force. (Or once for a period of 4 weeks). Proof of this includes airline tickets and hotel bookings. Quarantines may be imposed.
- CZECH REPUBLIC: The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs says from July 20, new rules allow the “meeting of Czechs with their permanent partners from third countries, divided by restrictive measures during the pandemic.” The conditions are strict. There are “solemn declarations” to be filled out confirming the relationship, and waivers apply largely to those who usually do not require a visa to travel to Czechia. “Czech diplomacy was inspired by the system applied by Denmark and Austria for unmarried couples,” says the government, offering hope that more countries will be similarly inspired.
- ICELAND: Iceland’s exemptions are less wide-ranging and apply to live-in couples only. “Cohabiting partners of Icelanders,” (or those of other EU and UK citizens), now fall within essential travel reasons, says the Immigration Directorate. “A confirmation of being exempted from the travel restrictions,” is required. You can request that by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org along with documents that prove cohabitation. Arrivals face a Covid test or quarantine.
- AUSTRIA As the Austrian government points out: “It is also possible to travel to Austria for reasons that are particularly worth considering in the family circle, for example a visit to the life partner or for special occasions such as weddings or baptisms.” Arrivals from the U.S. must show a negative Covid test, or quarantine at home for 10 days. The Austrian Campaign “Love Without Borders” spells-out further details and documents required .
- SWITZERLAND Couples must demonstrate that the relationship has existed “for some time”, that contact has been regular, and that they have met in person at least once before travel bans were swept in–either in Switzerland or abroad. The proof required takes various forms. Those needing a visa to enter can apply for one at home.
Covid And Couples: Not A Marriage Made In Heaven, More Like Hell
In Austria, problems with the clarity of the new rules applying to couples has led to dozens of reports of airlines refusing people to travel.
That’s despite the Department of Health & Social Affairs explaining in a tweet earlier in July: “We count all people who are in a fixed relationship, regardless of whether they share the same place of residence or how long the relationship has lasted.”
Hopefully now that the couples’ exception pops up in fine print on the Austrian interior ministry website, such scenarios will be avoided.
You “go through hell” not knowing when you can see your partner again, Austrian Claudia Z. told a local magazine. She’s been separated from her Californian love of four years, Brendon, since the crisis began. Soon hopefully, the hell will be over.