Travel with Katie Butler: New Covid rules for travelling to the UK

Hello again red list! Last week we saw 10 countries added to the UK red list.

By Jane Chippindale
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 9:56 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 9:58 am

Katie Butler writes: England added 10 southern African countries to its red list. The return of the red list comes after a new variant known as Omicron was detected in South Africa and Botswana. Travellers arriving from South Africa are now required to quarantine on arrival in the UK, along with arrivals from nine other southern African nations.

In response to this variant, the Government held a national press conference and tightened restrictions for all travellers returning back to England from ALL destinations. From 4am on Tuesday, November 30, all passengers returning to the UK from abroad must take a PCR test on or before day two of arrival (this replaces the lateral flow test). In addition you must self-isolate until you have received your negative test result.

Other destinations also started to change entry criteria, and from December 1 you can only travel to Spain if you are fully-vaccinated (this excludes children under the age of 12). Portugal, who previously were allowing double-vaccinated passengers to take holidays without any testing, have now stated that a negative test will be required to enter, regardless of vaccine status.

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TRAVEL UPDATE: The UK added ten countries to the red list. Photo: Getty Images

I am unable to self-isolate due to work/school, what are my options?

This will be down to your travel provider who will be able to advise you of your options. If you are due to travel imminently you may be able to change your holiday to a later date/next year, but this will be down to the discretion of your travel provider and how the holiday was booked. There are also test facilities that offer same day PCR results but of course these come with a heftier price tag.

I am due to travel to Spain with an unvaccinated teenager, what are my options?

As it stands, if travelling with unvaccinated children aged over 11, you will not be able to take a holiday to Spain in the immediate future. Most travel providers are allowing you to change your destination or date of travel without any administration fees, however, again this will depend on how the holiday has been booked and may vary with different travel providers.

I have already booked a lateral flow test, can I change this to a PCR?

Most test providers are offering either refunds on previously purchased lateral flow tests, or upgrading the lateral flow to a PCR test for the additional fee. Contact your test provider to find out what they are able to offer. Many providers have already contacted travellers with their options.

This is certainly a bump in the road for the industry and holidaymakers alike. We are hoping that this move will enable us to continue to travel while keeping public health a priority. The new testing requirements certainly kept us busy earlier this week as we had many customers already overseas, and so we made those customers a priority in contacting them and arranging new PCR tests. As a reminder, we are back to wearing masks in shops this week, and so if you do call in to see us please remember to wear a mask.

■ If you have a specific travel question you would like Katie to answer in her column, please email: [email protected]