How will Covid travel restrictions affect my Christmas vacation?


The winter holiday season has been turned upside down by the urgency of the omicron variant.

France and Germany have imposed travel bans on British citizens or residents entering for non-essential reasons, meaning thousands of British families have had to rethink their ski plans over the Christmas period.

Better news, for anyone hoping to travel to the UK from sub-Saharan Africa this Christmas, all 11 countries have now been redlisted, ending the need for travelers to enter hotel quarantine upon arrival in the UK.

Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe were removed from the red list at 4 a.m. on Wednesday. Although all 11 African countries have been removed from hotel quarantine, ministers will not abandon the concept of a red list over concerns that it may be necessary in the face of future variations.

The tightened travel test rules will remain: anyone traveling to the UK must now take a PCR test before the end of the second day after arrival and self-isolate until they have tested negative – regardless of the country from which she is traveling, or their vaccination status. In addition, all people aged 12 and over must have a PCR or lateral flow test before traveling to England from abroad.

Portugal, Switzerland and Spain have also tightened their entry restrictions. Since December 1, all arrivals to Portugal must present proof of a negative Covid-19 test, regardless of their vaccination status. Switzerland added new test requirements. Spain no longer accepts unvaccinated British tourists.

Here’s everything you need to know about how the latest travel restrictions could affect your next vacation.

What are the latest Red List travel rules?

South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Angola and Nigeria have been removed from the red list.

This means that anyone arriving from these countries will no longer be subject to hotel quarantine restrictions.

What are the new rules for testing?

All people aged 12 and over must take a PCR test or a lateral flow test before traveling to England from abroad.

Travelers arriving in the UK are required to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after arrival and self-isolate until they test negative. Previously, fully vaccinated travelers were only required to take a rapid lateral flow test.

Have other countries imposed new rules?

Yes, including many European countries. On December 15, France banned all British arrivals from entering the country for non-essential reasons. Germany also banned arrivals to the UK on December 19.

Since December 1, Portugal requires all travelers to present a negative test certificate on arrival, with a fine of € 300 to € 800 threatened against those who do not comply. Meanwhile, since December 2, Spain is now denying access to partially or unvaccinated British travelers.

Are countries reintroducing lockdowns?

Yes. A fourth wave of Covid-19 has prompted further crackdowns across the continent. Austria had been placed in temporary national lockdown amid an increase in Covid-19 cases, but this has since been lifted. The Netherlands has imposed an 8 p.m. curfew on restaurants and bars, while Slovakia, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic are among countries restricting freedoms for unvaccinated visitors and residents .

I’m nervous about my Christmas vacation, what can I do?

If you’ve booked a Christmas or winter vacation, you might be feeling nervous about the stricter testing rules and the new omicron variant could mean for your getaway.

If you decide to change your vacation plans, you should contact your vacation agency, accommodation, or airline directly to see if you can change your booking. No company will be forced to issue a refund due to holiday nervousness, but you can contact them to ask if this is an option. Do not cancel unilaterally, or you will not be refunded.

Can I ski?

France has announced a travel ban on all non-essential travel from the UK, following the omicron wave. As only French citizens will be allowed to come from Britain, many vacationers have to postpone or cancel their winter ski trips.

From Saturday December 18 at midnight (French time) or from Friday December 17 at 11 p.m., people can no longer travel for tourist or professional reasons.

In addition, all French citizens must now take a Covid test, before arriving from the UK, within 24 hours – as well as self-isolation for seven days. The quarantine period can then be reduced to 48 hours, upon proof of a negative test carried out on arrival.

Where can I ski now?

Some ski resorts remain open to British travelers. Therefore, if you want to book your trip to the slopes, consider traveling to one of the following countries below.

Austria: ski resorts are open again, following the end of the country’s containment on December 13. Travelers must show proof of a second dose of vaccine or a booster, between 21 and 360 days from the date of travel.

Switzerland: Travelers wishing to visit Switzerland must present a complete vaccination certificate, as well as a negative test result taken no more than 72 hours before travel. A second PCR or antigen test should also be performed between the fourth and seventh day of arrival.

Italy: With the borders open again to the British, optimistic skiers will not need to self-isolate on arrival – provided they are fully vaccinated – but they will need to show a negative test carried out within 48 hours of their arrival. arrival in Italy. If you don’t get a double bite, you’ll need to quarantine yourself for five days and then get tested.

Canada: As long as you can show complete proof of inoculation, as well as a negative test performed within 72 hours of your flight, skiers are encouraged to travel to Canada for their winter vacation. However, on-arrival testing is also required and there is a mandatory quarantine until the result is received.

United States: Fully vaccinated Britons are welcome to travel to the United States (under 18s exempt from needing a double injection) but they must show proof of a negative test.

This article is updated with the latest news and government guidance.

Have your vacation plans been affected by the new travel restrictions? Comment below to let us know.


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