This week has seen another round of travel restrictions imposed on travellers to the UK. Pre-departure tests are now required – in addition to self-isolation until a negative post-arrival PCR result is received. The new rules apply to fully vaccinated passengers.
The moves place the UK as an outlier among European countries in terms of onerous rules for vaccinated travellers. But other nations have also tightened restrictions in response to concerns about the omicron variant of coronavirus.
These are the key changes.
The government has introduced a new “super green” pass, requiring the holder to be fully vaccinated or with proof of recent recovery. It will be required by all people aged 12 and over to access most hospitality and leisure facilities until at least 15 January.
The Foreign Office says: “Italy will accept the UK’s proof of Covid-19 recovery and vaccination record as the equivalent to a super green pass as long as it is in the form of a verifiable digital QR code.
“Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.”
Skiers heading for Italy face an array of rules for the impending winter sports season.
The nation is divided into white, yellow, orange and red zones, according to the risks assessed by the Ministry of Health in Rome.
Most of the nation is in the lowest-risk white zone, which has no significant ski restrictions. Two regions, Friuli Venezia Giulia and the autonomous province of Bolzano, are in the yellow category. In both white and yellow zones, people aged 12 or over will need a “green pass” to access covered ski lifts at least until 15 January. The green pass is Italy’s basic health pass, obtainable with proof of vaccination or a negative test.
A green pass is not needed to access uncovered ski lifts in white and yellow zones.
The Foreign Office says “Masks (surgical or FFP2) must be worn on ski lifts and when in common spaces.
“You must maintain social distancing on the slopes and avoid gatherings. Eating and drinking is not permitted on ski lifts or boarding areas.”
Fully vaccinated travellers aged 12 and above must provide a negative test result (in paper or digital format, lateral flow or PCR) carried out less than 48 hours prior to departure to France.
The French embassy in London warns: “Tests whose results are not certified by a laboratory (such as the self-administered tests provided free of charge by the NHS) are not considered valid for travel.”
This statement is aimed at ensuring that all tests are properly certified. While it appears to permit privately sourced self-administered tests, The Independent recommends travellers should rely on professionally administered testing.
The Irish government makes it entirely clear that self-administered tests are not allowed. It now requires all fully vaccinated arrivals aged 12 and over to provide either an antigen (lateral flow) test taken within 48 hours before arrival, or a PCR taken within 72 hours before arrival.
“The test result must be certified and not self-administered,” says the official advice.
“If you are not fully vaccinated or recovered, you must show a negative or not detected PCR test taken within 72 hours before your arrival.”
Since Monday arrivals to the US are required to take the pre-departure test on the day of travel or the previous day. As a cheap and quick lateral flow test is sufficient, it can be taken at the airport on the morning of travel.