Are Some UK Travel Restrictions Set to Ease?

It seems so judging by the briefings and media reports. The travel industry is urging for the change with renewed gusto, If so it will be very welcome by skiers, snowboarders and the UK snowsports industry. UPDATED

It is thought ministers are finalising changes to guidance on Covid testing for travel and an announcement could come later today, Wednesday 5th.

We reported on the possibility yesterday in this related story on PlanetSKI:

One of the major factors putting people off travel is the need to return to England with a negative test.

It can be either a lateral flow or PCR test.

If the pre-departure test is positive that means the would-be returning holiday maker would be unable to travel and would need to self-isolate in the country they are in.

Here is the experience of one PlanetSKI reader, David Quirk, who was in Cervinia in the Aosta Valley in Italy over the Xmas period.

“My partner tested positive on our return test and as a close contact we were shipped off to a Government Hotel in Aosta.

“Have to say the faculties were extremely basic and were filthy when we arrived on Xmas day !!!

“Very little communication and pretty much left to defend for yourself from UK authorities and the travel company ( although the rep was keeping in touch as much as he could ).

“I felt sorry for the people who shared our taxi to testing point ( Cervinia has a little pharmacy and was swamped with applications for testing ) who were also put in isolation as being close contacts from sharing the taxi with us !!!”

As well as the pre-departure test people then have to take another test – which this time must be a PCR test – within the first two days after their arrival in the UK.

This is costly and has put some people off winter travel.

Travellers currently must pay for private tests rather than using free NHS tests.

It has had an impact on the snowsports industry with people cancelling trips

Last month the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, said that “very soon”, if Omicron became the dominant variant, there would be “less need to have any kind of travel restrictions at all”.

Omicron is now dominant.

Despite what the UK may do there are currently restrictions for entering all the skiing nations, though for most this means people must be fully vaccinated and some require further testing.

The general French ban on people arriving from the UK remains in place.

Already on Wednesday the government has announced that a PCR test is not required for those with no symptoms of Covid and who have tested positive with a lateral flow test.

The new rule comes into force on January 11th.

Les Menuires, France. Image © PlanetSKI

Les Menuires, France. Image © PlanetSKI

The  Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has carried out research which claims pre-departure testing has had little or no impact on the spread of Omicron.

It has shared this information with the government.

The BBC reports that MAG said said its passenger numbers at went down by over 30% after Omicron measures were introduced.

MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish and Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said the government should press ahead with the “immediate removal” of travel testing requirements which come at “huge cost” to the industry.

“It is therefore vital they do not remain in place a day longer than is necessary,” they wrote in a joint statement.

The UK snowsports industry, and wider travel sector, claims it has received precious little direct help from the government during the pandemic as we recently reported:

Skiers and snowboarders, plus the UK snowsports industry will be watching the situation carefully.

We will update you on PlanetSKI when we hear more.

For the current testing requirements for travel see this story on the BBC.

Here are the current rules for fully-vaccinated people in England, which are similar in the rest of the UK.

  • A Covid test – lateral flow or PCR – must be taken in the two days before travel
  • A PCR should be booked and paid for to be taken after arrival
  • People must self-isolate where they are staying until they get the test results
  • A passenger locator form should be completed in the 48 hours before arrival

We do our very best at PlanetSKI to ensure the information provided here is as complete and up-to-date as possible. However, please be aware that we assume no liability in this respect. Information provided by PlanetSKI should be checked with the official information provided by the authorities. The situation regarding travel warnings and local rules changes quickly.

Image © PlanetSKI