How will Covid travel restrictions affect my Christmas break?



All 11 countries have been removed from the red list, 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 on Wednesday at 4am. Although the 11 African countries have been withdrawn from the hotel quarantine, ministers will not abandon the concept of a red list for the concern that may be needed in the face of any future variant.

The most intense travel test rules will be maintained: Anyone traveling to the UK must now take a PCR test at the end of the second day after arrival and isolate themselves until they have received a negative result, regardless of country from which you are traveling, or your vaccination status. In addition, all persons aged 12 and over must undergo a PCR or side flow test before traveling to England from abroad.

Portugal, Switzerland and Spain have also tightened their entry restrictions. From 1 December, all arrivals in Portugal must show evidence of a negative Covid-19 test, regardless of their vaccination status. Switzerland has 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 travel rules on the red list?

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 undergo a PCR or side flow test before traveling to England from abroad.

Travelers arriving in the UK should take a PCR test at the end of the second day after arrival and self-isolate until they have a negative result. Previously, fully vaccinated travelers only had to take a quick side-flow test.

Are other countries imposing new rules?

Yes, including many European nations. On December 15, France imposed a ban on all British arrivals visiting the country for non-essential reasons. From December 1, Portugal requires all travelers to show a negative test certificate on arrival, with a fine of 300 to 800 euros for those who do not comply. Meanwhile, since December 2, Spain has now denied access to partially or unvaccinated British travelers.

Several other countries, such as Germany, Australia and Italy, have imposed restrictions on travel from South Africa, as the new variant is causing worldwide concern. On 26 November, the 27 EU member states “agreed on the need to activate the emergency brake and impose temporary restrictions on all travel to the EU from South Africa”.

Are countries reintroducing the blockade?

Yes. A fourth wave of Covid-19 has caused more repression across the continent. Austria had been placed in temporary national confinement amid an increase in Covid-19 cases, but has since risen. The Netherlands has imposed a curfew at 8pm on restaurants and bars, while Slovakia, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic are among the countries that have repressed the freedoms of unvaccinated visitors and residents.

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

If you’ve booked a Christmas or winter vacation, you may be nervous about the strictest test rules, and the new omicron variant could mean your getaway.

If you decide to change your holiday plans, you should contact your holiday company, accommodation provider or airline directly to see if you can book again. No company will be required to issue a refund due to holiday nerves, but you can contact us to ask if this is an option. Do not cancel unilaterally, or you will not receive a refund.

Can I go skiing?

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

From midnight on Saturday 18 December (French time) or 11pm on Friday 17 December, people will not be able to travel for tourist or professional reasons, according to the French government.

In addition, all French citizens will have to take a Covid test, before their arrival from the UK, within 24 hours, in addition to having to isolate themselves for seven days. The quarantine period will be reduced to 48 hours, after proof of a negative test made on arrival.

The travel ban follows news that France was planning to increase restrictions on UK travelers on Tuesday 14 December.

Where can I Ski Now?

There are some ski resorts that remain open to British travelers, so if you want to book your trip to the slopes, check out the trips to one of the following countries below.

Austria: Ski resorts are open again, after the end of the country’s confinement on 13 December. Travelers must show proof of a second dose of vaccine or a booster shot, between 21 and 360 days from the date of the trip.

Switzerland: Travelers wishing to visit Switzerland must show proof of a complete vaccination certificate, as well as a negative test result taken no more than 72 hours before the trip. A second PCR or antigen test must also be performed between days four and seven on arrival.

Italy: With borders once again open to the British, hopeful skiers will not have to isolate themselves on arrival, as long as they are fully vaccinated, but will have to present a negative test done within 48 hours after the arrival in Italy. If you are not given a double blow, you will need to be quarantined for five days and then tested.

Canada: As long as you can submit a full inoculation test as well as a negative test done within 72 hours of your flight, skiers can travel to Canada for their winter break. However, the test must also be done on arrival and there is a mandatory quarantine until the result is received.

United States: Fully vaccinated Britons may travel to the United States (those under the age of 18 are exempt from having to be bent), but must submit a negative test.

This article is kept up to date with the latest government news and guidance.

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

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