An update on travel restrictions in Europe
This blog was constructed on 17th of August 2021.
Like many of our readers we here at Masters of Mayfair regularly travel internationally for business and pleasure.
For our staff the summer of 2021 will truly be the year of the staycation. I have personally just completed climbing the highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland over a few short breaks to Snowdonia, the lake district and the Scottish highlands. After summiting each in horrendous rain and wind, I'm ready to consider a destination with a better chance of finding some sun and relaxation!
The COVID-19 pandemic evolves rapidly, and statistics on epidemiological changes are the basis of decision-making. In this blog we look at what travelling from the UK to Europe and beyond looks like in August 2021.
Red, amber and green list rules for entering England
Before we can look at travelling to another country it is important to understand the rules for returning home.
What you must do when you arrive in England from abroad depends on where you have been in the 10 days before you arrive. Before booking your trip you should check to see what the country's rating is, and also monitor the current ratings while on your trip. Countries are rated as red, amber or green for coronavirus (COVID-19). Depending on the rating there are rules you must follow to enter England on your return.
If you have also been in or through a country or territory on the red or amber list in the 10 days before you arrive in England, you must follow the red or amber list rules.
After arrival in England you must take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2. You do not need to quarantine unless the test result is positive.
Before you travel to England you must take a COVID-19 test, book and pay for COVID-19 tests – to be taken after arrival in England & complete a passenger locator form. You must do these things whether you are fully vaccinated or not.
On arrival in England
(If you are fully vaccinated) After arrival in England you must take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2.
(If you are not fully vaccinated) Quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days. Take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8. If you need to quarantine, you may be able to end quarantine early if you pay for a private COVID-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.
Before you travel to England you must: take a COVID-19 test, book a quarantine hotel package, including 2 COVID-19 tests & complete a passenger locator form.
On arrival in England you must quarantine in a managed hotel, including 2 COVID-19 tests
Rules for travelling to Europe
For the most part the hospitality sector in Europe is breathing a sigh of relief. Many countries have eased restrictions on everyday life, making tourism possible again. Across Europe, many countries have lifted lockdowns and eased travel and entry requirements. But as pandemic regulations are being relaxed in some countries, others are tightening their entry rules again because of the surge of the delta variant. The situation in each country can change from one day to the next, which requires flexibility from tourists and tour operators, hotels and restaurateurs in the summer of 2021. DW
Below is an image showing a snapshot of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people across Europe.
What do I need to travel to Europe during the pandemic?
Firstly British citizens can travel across Europe visa-free for a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period providing that you are a tourist or attending business meetings. If you are planning to stay in the Schengen Zone beyond 90 days, or conducting work activities not covered by the visa wavier you should apply for one of the variances of a Schengen Visa.
The UK government recommends that you have at least 6 months left on your passport. This allows for:
- travelling in Europe for up to 3 months (you don’t normally need a visa for the first 90 days in every 180 days of travel)
- the requirement from most European countries to have at least 3 months left on your passport on the day after you leave
- In addition your passport should be issues within the previous 10 years and you should have at least 2 full blank pages
Vaccination & demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status
The European Union has made available its COVID-19 passport for all EU citizens and residents, as well as for specific categories of travellers from third countries, since July 1. Because the UK is no longer in the EU, the certificate is not available to most Britons.
The NHS Covid Pass is a similar vaccine "passport", but it is only for people who have been fully vaccinated through the NHS. You can't yet use it EU-wide - but some individual countries, such as Greece, Malta and Spain, do accept it. The EU says it's working to ensure its own certificate is compatible with similar products. 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.
Just because a country is on the UK's green list, it doesn't mean that the UK will be on their green list. You should check if countries or territories you are travelling to accept the NHS proof of COVID-19 vaccination status as part of their entry requirements.
Will I Face Discrimination If I Am Not Vaccinated?
The EU had taken the necessary measures so that people who are not vaccinated will not be discriminated against when travelling across the EU. All those who are not vaccinated can get tested for COVID-19 and travel freely.
Medical Grade Mask
Although different transport operators continue to have their own policies for passengers, medical grade face masks are generally mandatory on flights.
Here are the latest rules from Easyjet.
The mask you wear should be FFP2 (or equivalent) certified, surgical or cloth. Scarves, face visors or masks with valves are not permitted. If your mask isn’t suitable, you may be refused travel.
If you have an exemption from wearing a mask, you must bring a signed doctor’s letter or medical certificate (printed or digital format) with you to the airport when you travel with us, that clearly states that you’re exempt from wearing a face mask.
Face masks should typically be replaced every four hours, or if they become wet or soiled, so please ensure that you have an adequate supply for you and anyone else travelling with you for the entire duration of your journey.
Getting tested for coronavirus before travelling
Getting tested before you travel is a requirement of many foreign countries.
You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test from a private coronavirus testing provider. If required these tests can cost around £220 per person.
Examples of travelling in Europe today
Get advice about travelling abroad, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings. All of this information is compiled on the UK Government Foreign Travel Advice Website.
Below is a snapshot of some of the different requirements for popular UK travel destinations.
Germany travel entry requirements. From 7 July, the UK is designated as a ‘high-incidence area’. You may enter Germany from the UK for any travel purpose if you are fully vaccinated. Travellers arriving from the UK, who are not fully vaccinated, are subject to 10 day quarantine, and test and release is available after 5 days.
Italian travel entry requirements. Until 30 August travellers who have been in the UK, in the previous 14 days, must present a negative molecular or antigen test taken in the 48 hours preceding entry into Italy. They must also self-isolate for 5 days, at the end of which they must take a rapid antigenic or molecular swab test for COVID-19 and test negative for release. If you wish to fly, you must present the airline with a negative COVID-19 rapid antigenic or molecular swab test taken no more than 48 hours before travel. Before travel, you must complete an online digital form. Travellers arriving without proof of a negative test and details of where they will self-isolate may be refused entry.
The UK vaccination certificate cannot facilitate entry to Italy whilst the Italian quarantine requirement is in place for UK arrivals, currently in effect to 30 August.
The UK is currently on France’s amber list.
Travellers who are fully vaccinated do not need an essential reason to travel to France and do not need to self-isolate on arrival. From 18 July, fully vaccinated adults no longer need to present evidence of a negative test result before travel. Fully vaccinated travellers will need to present the following documents:
a completed ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying they are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight. This can be found on the French government’s website
proof of vaccination status
Unvaccinated (or not fully vaccinated) arrivals in France from countries on the French amber list will only be permitted to travel for essential reasons. There is an additional list of requirements for unvaccinated travellers.
The Spanish government requires all arrivals to Spain from the UK to present on entry a pre-travel declaration form and one of the following: a negative COVID-19 test; or proof of vaccination. See Testing and vaccination requirements for arrivals from the UK for details. There are different rules for different areas of Spain. Spain will accept the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination record.
As you can see there are still a lot of variable factors in play at this time depending on saturation of pandemic cases and alignment of policy. You must monitor both the UK's country rating and the destination country's rating of the UK.
Buying a testing package is expensive and will continue to add unwanted costs and hassle for many trips for the foreseeable future.
For a short break away it might be advisable to primarily consider countries which are on the UK's green list. Exceptions might be made if you are travelling for a significant amount of time or necessity, in which case the additional requirements may be considered worthwhile.
Being more flexible with your destinations and booking last minute may provide unique windows of opportunity for a lovely break away. Hang on in there and embrace the dreaming and plotting of your next adventure. Travel may well be different in the post coronavirus age but it need not to be less enjoyable.