Skiers Heading Back to UK Now Need Negative Test from Today

Travellers heading to the UK will now have to take a Covid test before departure.  It’s thrown things into further chaos with the ban being described as a ‘hammer blow’ for travel. Some skiers will be prepared to accept the risks & point out it that testing was required for travel last summer. UPDATED

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The authorities say it is needed to limit the spread of  Covid-19 and its omicron variant.

The new requirement came into force from 04:00 on Tuesday 7th December.

There are currently 336 confirmed cases of the omicron variant in the UK.

The Health Secretary, Sajid Javid,  has said omicron is spreading in the community in multiple areas of England, where cases have no link to international travel.

All people over 12-years old now need to take a pre-departure test within 48-hours of travelling to the UK.

It can be a PCR or lateral flow test.

Previously people needed to take a PCR test within two days of arriving in the UK.

The government said its strategy since the discovery of the omicron variant had been to “buy time” in order to assess and to “put in place protective measures”.

It added “We’ve always said that we would act swiftly should new data require it.”

“We appreciate this will be difficult for the travel sector as we prioritise public health and protect the progress of our world-leading vax and booster programme,” tweeted the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps.

See here for the full details on the UK government web site.

Skiers and snowboarders with holidays booked in December are now weighing up whether to continue with their holidays plans.

Over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page one reader, James Wilkinson, raises a version of the question now being asked by some skiers and snowboarders:

“So upon returning from France to Geneva Airport to fly back to the Uk with my family we will need to take a test. If one of us is positive we won’t be allowed to board. We will have no accommodation booked and (presumably) won’t be allowed to go back to France. Swiss will only allow us to stay for 24 hour transit period. What then?”

It should be remembered that needing a negative test on arrival in the UK was the norm over the summer months and many people still travelled.

Some skiers & snowboarders will adopt the same view and accept that a test is part of the process to be able to be in the mountains.

Others think it is a good move.

“I would feel a whole load more confident about flying knowing that everyone on that flight had tested negative,” said Shirin Kiral.

“That would make me more comfortable about travelling. I recently returned from Turkey on a full plane with lots of kids.

Many people not wearing masks. Recipe for disaster.

Sure enough, 4 days later received a text from NHS saying that I’d been in close contact with someone who’d tested positive. I think it’s a good idea and can’t believe it’s taken them this long to bring this in.

Those complaining about the cost etc, if you can afford the exorbitant price of skiing over Christmas/ NY then a bit extra for tests is a drop in the ocean.

For those who are OK with travelling back on a plane whilst potentially carrying the virus, which is what has been happening for the last year, I don’t know what to say really…”

The new rules come at a bad moment for the ski industry with the winter season getting underway.

The measures will be reviewed on 20th December.

Airlines will need to check for pre-departure tests alongside a completed passenger locator form, and passengers will not be allowed to board a flight without providing evidence of a negative test result.

“Given the reduced incubation period of the Omicron variant, passengers are advised to take the pre-departure test as close as possible to their scheduled departure to the UK and no earlier than 48 hours before travelling,” said the government.

“The introduction of pre-departure testing with little warning is a hammer blow to the business travel industry,” said the  chief executive of the Business Travel Association, Clive Wratten.

“Public safety is a priority, but businesses will fail, travellers will be stranded and livelihoods devastated by the lack of coherent plans from government,” he added.

The pre-departure tests is “a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted,” a scientist advising the government has said.

Professor Mark Woolhouse told the BBC that the latest changes had come “too late” to make a “material difference” to a potential wave of the omicron variant in the UK.

He believes community transmission of the variant would be what drives another wave.

Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this story with further details and reaction.

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