What Happens if You Test Positive for COVID-19 in Europe? It depends on which country you're in; some European countries still require quarantine or self-isolation if you test positive, while others do not. Here's the breakdown by country, along with what is required in order to return to the U.S.
Quarantine or Self-Isolation Required
Denmark: Self-Isolate for 4 Days After Testing Positive
If you test positive for COVID-19 in Denmark, you'll need to self-isolate for 4 days. If you have no symptoms or mild symptoms such as a runny nose, you can end self-isolation. If you have severe symptoms you must continue to self-isolate until you no longer have severe symptoms.
France: Self-Isolate for 7 Days After Date of Positive COVID-19 Test (Fully Vaccinated)
France requires those who are fully vaccinated and who have a positive COVID-19 test result to isolate for 7 days after the positive test result. If a Day 5 antigen or PCR test is negative and there have been no COVID-19 symptoms for at least 48 hours, isolation can be ended.
Germany: Must Self-Isolate for 5 Days
If you test positive for COVID-19 in Germany, you'll need to self-isolate for 5 days. If on the 5th day a COVID-19 test is negative and you've been symptom-free for at least 48 hours, you can end self-isolation.
Greece: Self-Isolate for 5 Days After Date of Positive COVID-19 Test
If you test positive for COVID-19 in Greece, you must self-isolate for 5 days from the date of the positive test result. If not experiencing symptoms after 5 days, you may end self-isolation. Note that if you test positive while in Greece and do not follow the guidance of the Civil Protection authorities, you risk a fine of EUR 5000, and possible arrest.
Italy: Must Self-Isolate Until Testing Negative for COVID-19
Italy requires those who test positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate until they test negative for the virus with either a PCR or rapid antigen test, and if you're unfortunate enough to be in a government-run quarantine hotel (which can occur if you test positive at the airport and don't already have your own self-isolation accommodation, either with family/friends or a rental) the minimum stay is 7 days. All self-isolation, whether in your own rented lodging or in the state-run quarantine hotels, is at the traveler's expense.
We always recommend testing for COVID-19 as soon as possible the day prior to one's return flight to the U.S., so as to be able to confirm or make contingency plans for self-isolation and change flights.
Portugal: Must Self-Isolate for At Least 7 Days
If you receive COVID-19 positive test results in Portugal, you'll be required to self-isolate for at least 7 days at your own expense.
Since 2/21/22, England hasn't required those who test positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate.
Since 3/28/22, Spain hasn't required quarantine for those who are COVID-19 positive but have no or mild symptoms.
Sweden doesn't require the general public to quarantine or self-isolate after a COVID-19 positive test if they are symptom free, but asks that anyone with symptoms that could be due to COVID-19 self-isolate to avoid spreading the infection. Different rules apply to those who work in healthcare.
As of 4/1/22, Switzerland no longer requires a 5 day self-isolation period after a positive COVID-19 test.
Returning to the U.S.
Unfortunately, the U.S. continues to require even fully vaccinated and boosted air passengers to test negative for COVID-19 the day before they depart on a flight to the U.S. If you've tested positive for COVID-19, you'll either need to wait until you test negative, or get a letter of recovery from a healthcare provider. See the CDC's Airline Checklist. An alternative for those close to the border is to fly to Canada or Mexico, then travel by land into the U.S., since testing isn't required at the land borders.
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