25th January 2022
Last modified on January 27th, 2022
The need to test for Covid-19 when you arrive in England or Scotland is being scrapped for fully jabbed travellers from 4am on 11th February. The other home nations say they will follow suit. The change comes in time for the school half-term break and bookings are already said to be up. UPDATED
The UK government announced this week that all fully-vaccinated travellers and the under-18s would no longer have to take Covid-19 tests after arrival in England from 11th February.
The Scottish Government has already agreed to the change and both Wales and Northern Ireland have since said they will follow England, though Wales will encourage people to continue to test.
The pre-departure tests – which had to be taken before returning to the UK – have already gone.
Now, those who have had at least two doses of the vaccine will not need to take a test within two days of arriving home either.
They will still have to fill in a passenger locator form though these are going to be made easier to complete.
Bookings are already reported to be up, especially for February half-term and Easter.
“Currently, every day that goes by, optimism grows and it is showing in our numbers with bookings far exceeding pre pandemic levels,” said the CEO of Inghams , Joe Ponte.
“We know that skiers love to ski, and the majority will get on the slopes as soon as they can, but the latest news on UK testing is without doubt making things easier.
“This is another step in the right direction for skiers and snowboarders.”
Inghams Elevate Your Winter
“We’ve seen a huge spike in sales in the last few weeks, since the lifting of the French travel restrictions,” said Zac Brown from Ski France .
“Scrapping the tests upon the return to the UK only seems to have further boosted customer confidence and we’re really excited to be welcoming people from the UK back to the Alps.
“We have limited availability left for the half term holidays, so now’s the time to book if you’re looking to get away this season.”
Image c/o Ski France
“There was still good availability for Feb half term due to the French ban but, since the end of testing was announced, bookings are being made faster than I’ve ever seen before,” said the MD of SNO , Richard Sinclair.
“Anyone who really wants to book should to phone in, because the queue for online enquiries can be days long at the moment.”
Other UK ski companies have made their observations to PlanetSKI.
“After two difficult years for the ski holiday sector is it great to finally see skiers and boarders getting back to what they really enjoy,” said Sean O’Leary from AllChalets .
“The removal of testing combined with the excellent conditions right across the Alps has really given a confidence boost to February and March bookings.
“Mid term weeks are almost full at this stage but there is still some great chalet deals available for late February and right through March into Easter.”
“The scrapping of 2 days tests has been welcomed by all our families travelling out for February Half Term as it will save them some money,” said Duncan Gilroy from Absolutely Snow .
“Whether or not it will help with future bookings we remain sceptical.
“What we are finding is that clients are leaving it right to the last minute to book so that they know that they can actually travel,” Duncan added.
Absolutely snow logo
The Chief Executive of the airline Jet2, Steve Heapy, told the BBC the removal of testing was a game-changer for the travel industry.
He said demand was “already strong” before the rule changes for England and Scotland were announced on Monday, but said bookings had since risen further.
Some ski nations still demand tests are taken before arrival in their country and there’s a variety of restrictions so you need to check the rules carefully before travelling.
But this latest announcement removes another barrier for skiers and snowboarders wanting a hassle-free trip from the UK to the mountains.
Courmayeur, Italy. Image © PlanetSKI
And there’s more good news for families.
From 3rd February, 12 to 15-year-olds in England will be able to access their vaccination status via the digital NHS pass for international travel.
Covid passes issued in the UK can be used throughout the EU to show proof of vaccination.
However, many in this age group are not fully vaccinated yet so face there are still some obstacles to travel.
The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said scrapping the final tests would save families about £100 on holidays abroad, and give the travel industry a much-needed boost.
“Our international travel regime will now be liberalised as part our efforts to ensure that 2022 is the year in which restrictions on travel, on lockdowns and limits on people’s lives are firmly placed in the past,” he told the House of Commons.
“From 4am on February 11, and in time for the half-term break, eligible fully-vaccinated passengers arriving in the UK will no longer have to take a post-arrival lateral flow test.
“That means that after months of pre-departure testing, post-arrival testing, self-isolation, additional expense, all that fully vaccinated people will now have to do, when they travel to the UK, is to verify their status via a passenger locator form.”
The changes do not apply to those who have not had at least two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, though some restrictions are being lifted.
They will still need to complete pre-departure tests and a post-arrival PCR test but they will no longer have to self-isolate on arrival in the UK, or take a test on day eight.
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Image © PlanetSKI