Long-distance couples must show coronavirus 'love contract' at Dutch border before reuniting

Non-EU lovers will soon be jetting into Amsterdam's Schiphol airport after months of separation from their Dutch partners.  - AFP
Non-EU lovers will soon be jetting into Amsterdam's Schiphol airport after months of separation from their Dutch partners. - AFP

Long-distance couples separated by the EU's coronavirus travel ban can reunite in the Netherlands if they show Dutch border guards a “love contract” declaring their relationship has lasted longer than three months.

Lying on the handwritten, signed statement is punishable by a charge of perjury. Failure to show a return ticket at border checkpoints could also result in detainment and deportation.

The Netherlands enforces the EU’s ban on non-essential travel into the bloc from non-EU citizens, which was introduced in March.

That has meant Dutch residents with partners living outside the EU have been unable to see each other for months.

Ferd Grapperhaus, the justice and security minister, told the Dutch parliament the visitor’s partner must be legally resident in the Netherlands and have seen them regularly before the coronavirus pandemic.

Lovers from outside the EU can only stay for up to 90 days every three months and, if travelling from a higher-risk country, may have to quarantine for two weeks.

"I’m convinced that if people arrive with malicious intentions that authorities will pick up on it," Mr Grapperhaus told the NOS broadcaster.

He warned that if the Covid-19 crisis worsened, the exemption for long-term, long-distance couples could be reversed.

The loosening of restrictions, which already applies to married couples, will take effect from July 27, the NLTimes website reported.

It was announced after calls from hundreds of lovelorn Dutch residents for a “sweetheart visa”, which has been introduced in Austria and Denmark.

Neighbouring Belgium has not introduced a similar exemption, despite the issue being discussed at this week’s meeting of the National Security Council on coronavirus.

“I am angry and frustrated that there still is a lack of urgency and understanding on the side of our government,” Hannah Maes told The Brussels Times.

Ms Maes, 25, has not seen her American girlfriend, who lives in New York, since January.

“The devil is in the details: where do you draw the line, how do you prove you are in love, how do you prevent abuse?” Marc Van Ranst, a prominent virologist, told the De Standaard newspaper.

Non-essential travel within the EU has been allowed since June 15.