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UK Quarantine to be Reduced

The announcement has been made by the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps.  With a vaccine on the horizon, hopes rise in the world of snowsports. The self-isolation changes mean skiing is more attractive but there are still significant obstacles.

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Quarantine for people arriving in England is to be reduced to five days and then people will need to take a test to end isolation.

Currently people have to remain in isolation for 14-days.

People will have to self-isolate immediately on arrival in England but will then be allowed to take a test after five days.

If negative they can end their self-isolation.

Fast-turnaround tests produce results inside an hour.

People will have to pay for the private test themselves, and the cost is around £100.

The rules will come into force from 15th December.

The ‘Test and Release’ scheme is the recommendation of the government’s Travel Task Force, that was set up in October to examine ways to use testing to reduce the 14-day self-isolation period.

“We have a plan in place to ensure that our route out of this pandemic is careful and balanced, allowing us to focus on what we can now do to bolster international travel while keeping the public safe,” said the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps.

“Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business.

“By giving people the choice to test on day 5, we are also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic.”

PlanetSKI readers have been reacting over on our Facebook page and saying whether they are prepared to accept the 5-day quarantine period with its associated costs.

Peter Reynolds: Not on your nelly, holiday and insurance companies are doing their best not to pay out on missed holidays during COVID. I for one will not be skiing this year sir!!

Becky Horton: Supposed to be heading to Tirol for Christmas would definitely pay for test on return to ensure shorter quarantine and so the boys can get back to school!

 Jeni McInnes: Definitely would….

Tim Taylor: I’m booked in

Ann Harris: And don’t forget you will have to abide by the entry rules of the country you are visiting. So if they want a test before you travel you will have to pay for that one too.

Carol McCaffery: Booked for 20th Feb for Zell – yes I’d be up for this.

Donna Parsfield: I believe it’s 5 days quarantine providing you can a test ? At £120 each for a family of 4 will be a big amount to pay on top of the holiday

Claire Louise: £480 added to the cost of the holiday is a lot , I’m not sure the 5 day is going to make people want to rush to the slopes if it’s almost 500 on top .

John Pinca: Will FCDO advice change though?

Feel free to add your views over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page.

It followed many months of lobbying from the travel industry, which welcomed the new rules.

“We very much welcome the reduction in the mandatory quarantine. 5 days is better than 14, and this move, whilst long over-due will be welcomed by the travel industry and British skiers,” said the MD of Ski Solutions, Craig Burton.

“We must be realistic, it won’t be enough to unlock the winter for everyone, but it will be an acceptable compromise for many.

“We had our busiest day since July on Monday, just on the speculation of the change in restrictions.

“We expect a busy few weeks ahead, and our teams are ready to do what they do best – helping our clients book fantastic holidays.”

Others in the UK snowsports industry have also welcomed the news.

“We desperately want to go skiing and it’s up to our customers to choose – everyone has a different level of risk aversion and younger skiers will undoubtedly book in greater numbers than the over 50’s,” said Richard Sinclair from SNO.

“I’ll personally wait until the second half of the season before deciding whether it’s a good idea to navigate airports, planes, transfer coaches and sweaty ski lifts, breathless lift queues, bars and restaurants.

“With the vaccine being so close and the virus still so deadly, my skiing hopes are pinned on a vax rollout Dec-Jan for over 50’s and February for the rest of us.

“If it doesn’t happen in time, I’ll book next year asap, because it’s going to be an early sell-out season, with many of our customers having booked 2022 already.

“I guess the smart money always plays the long game.”

Ski resorts in the Alps have also welcomed the news about the reduction in quarantine.

“This is a very positive move from the UK government,” said Sara Burdon from the Morzine-Avoriaz tourist office to PlanetSKI.

“Whilst it may not allow everyone to travel, it will open up the possibility of a holiday to many more British skiers and snowboarders.

“In Morzine, and the full Portes du Soleil ski area, the lift companies and local businesses are busy preparing for winter and will be ready to open once we get the go-ahead to do so.

“Safety measures are being put into place throughout the resort, and we’re ready and waiting for the season to officially start,”

See here for earlier PlanetSKI articles on this season in Morzine.

“It’s very interesting and indeed all this suggests that we are going to see British people in our ski resorts,” said Nadine Chevalier from Isere to PlanetSKI.

“However, we are waiting for the speech of our President Macron this evening to find out what he decides for our ski resorts. Many questions are still being wondered about.”

Isere Beckons for this Coming Winter

Ski resorts in Isere

Ski resorts in Isere

See here for the full details of the new UK quarantine rules.

However under the new 3-tier system coming into force some people in England will be advised  not to leave their area.

When lockdown 2.0 ends in England on 2nd December, people in areas designated Tiers One and Two may take holidays abroad.

People living under Tier Three will be advised not to travel in or out of their area.

It is thought up to half the country may be placed in Tier Three.

The new quarantine measures are expected to apply only to travel into England, although the government is talking to the devolved administrations to try to create a single UK-wide system.

Foreign travel is currently banned except for certain circumstances, such as work, but that will come to an end after the lockdown in England ends on December 2nd.

“Of course we all want to see British skiers out here this winter,” said Arnaud Coppell, head of Intersport Rent in France in reaction to the news.

“And we know that the quarantine on the way back in to the UK is a real problem for our British friends.

“We welcome the UK government’s change in the number of quarantine days, and we can assure our customers that our shops are ready for this unusual winter, with a virtual queueing system, obligatory alcohol gel and masks and a no-questions-asked refund policy.

“To our friends in Great Britain we say this: whenever you can get here – no matter how late in the season – we’re ready!”

Intersport has today published some research into views in the UK on quarantine:

Quarantine is the key to unlocking winter for UK skiers

Intersport

Intersport

The only main skiing country where quarantine is not required on arrival in the UK is Norway, though a 10-day quarantine is required on entering Norway.

There are other restrictions going into some of the other skiing nations.

There is no test or quarantine going into Austria or Switzerland from the UK.

But for Italy it is different.

People must present a statement that they have undergone a molecular or antigenic test carried out by means of a swab and a negative result within 72 hours before entering the country.

Or they can undergo a molecular or antigenic test; to be swabbed upon arrival at the airport, port, or border location (where possible) or within 48 hours of entering Italy.

Italy’s death toll had passed 50,000, joining the US, Brazil, India, Mexico and the UK as the only countries to reach that grim milestone.

At present the ski resorts are closed to the general public in France, Italy and Austria under lockdown rules.

These closures could be lifted as current lockdowns come to an end, but there is a threat of lockdowns being re-introduced if the virus spreads.

In the Alps only Switzerland has its slopes open.

It does though have 389 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population over a 7-day period.

Of the skiing nations only Andorra (684) and Austria (485) are higher.

Italy is at 382 and France is 236.

The UK currently stands on 214.

All the main skiing nations in the Alps and the Pyrenees are on the UK’s quarantine list and this means the UK government “advises against all but essential travel based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks”.

People should check their insurance as travelling against Foreign Office advice can invalidate some policies or at least reduce levels of cover.

It could mean if people travel to the country and catch Covid-19 then they would not be covered.

It follows the news of the successful Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trials on Monday.

The authorities though are urging caution and for people to realise there is still a long winter ahead.

It is highly unlikely this ski season, even the end of it, will be in any way normal as we reported earlier: Is there going to be a season for UK skiers this winter?

News of the reduction in quarantine has been welcomed by many as it is a definite move in the right direction and makes the chance of a ski trip more realistic for some.

The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has warned that winter and the months ahead “will be hard, they will be cold”.

He said that with a “favourable wind” the majority of people most in need of a vaccination might be able to get one by Easter.

“This virus obviously is not going to grant a Christmas truce… and families will need to make a careful judgement about the risks.”

He added: “This will be still a hard winter, Christmas cannot be normal, and there is a long road to spring. But we have turned a corner: and the escape route is in sight.”

His views could be applied to our world of snowsports.

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