France has tightened restrictions on unvaccinated visitors from several European countries as the continent sees a new surge in COVID-19 cases.
Unvaccinated travelers from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Greece need to show a negative PCR test taken within 24 hours of their departure for France, according to the new rules announced late Friday. Previously, tests could be taken within 48 hours.
The measure comes as European countries struggle to contain a new surge in COVID-19 blamed on low vaccination coverage and the relaxation of social and public health measures.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday pleaded for citizens to get vaccinated.
“These are very difficult weeks ahead of us,” Merkel said in a video speech. “I am asking you: Join us, and try to convince relatives and friends as well [to get vaccinated].”
She also called on vaccinated Germans to get booster shots.
“If we stand together, if we think about protecting ourselves and caring for others, we can save our country a lot this winter,” the chancellor said.
Germany reinstated free rapid COVID-19 testing on Saturday, two days after the country’s daily number of new coronavirus cases rose above 50,000.
In the Netherlands, three people remained in custody after violence at a protest in The Hague against a three-week partial lockdown announced by the government late Friday.
Austria is also seeing a rapid spread of the coronavirus and announced a partial lockdown in the Upper Austria region for the unvaccinated on Friday, with wider restrictions expected in the coming days.