Covid-19 and travel to UK update
My own personal experience
By Lucy J. Hunter-Weston
I have just returned from a week’s summer break in the south-west area of the Netherlands, where I live. During our stay, we received news that the UK was loosening the quarantine restrictions for EU and USA travelers as from 2 August 2021.
This was exciting news to me, as I haven’t seen my family or my homeland for a year and a half. I took immediate action and called a ferry company to activate the vouchers we had amassed in the past eighteen months due to the cancellations of our planned journeys to the UK. We were told that the Dutch government guidelines on travel to the UK still applied and that, for us, nothing had actually changed. The UK was, for the Netherlands, an amber high-risk country and we were strongly advised not to go there. I believe this is also the same for the USA (at the time of this writing).
This was very frustrating information – the UK is welcoming visitors from EU and USA, right?
My husband and I then spent four days of intense research, reading and re-reading the information on both the Dutch and the British Covid-19 websites. The information didn’t seem to be compatible. We called the embassies in London and The Hague, we called the customs offices, the public health offices in both countries and different departments of travel organisations. No one was prepared to stick their neck out and everyone was covering their backs. As of writing, we are still waiting for more clarification and there has been no change.
This is what we gleaned:
Travel to the UK:
- Both the Dutch government and the US government perceive the UK to be a high-risk infection rate country. Coloured orange / amber / level 3 or 4. They both advise strongly NOT to journey there.
There are exceptions:
- You have a close family member who is terminally ill.
- You want to go to the funeral of a close family member.
- You have business in the UK.
- You are grandparents who want to see your new grandchild for the first time.
- If you fall into one of the above categories, your health insurance should cover you if you need medical treatment for Covid-19 while you are visiting the UK. (Check your health cover!)
If you do NOT fall into one of these categories and you still think you should risk the journey, your health insurance may not cover you if you need medical treatment for Covid-19. (Check your health cover!)
Before you travel you need to:
- Be in possession of a negative official PCR test: digitally and printed out on paper, which you must show to customs before you leave your country and on arrival in the UK. (No more than 72 hours before departure)
- Be able to validate your double vaccination: digitally or on paper.
- Order a day 2 test for the UK at least 5 working days before you leave. This will be sent to your destination, where you will be expected to self-test on day 2 using the day 2 test you ordered. Instructions in the packaging will explain how to activate the test and send the test result to a UK government affiliated Covid-19 test registration centre. You must show evidence of your day 2 test purchase before departure along with evidence of your negative PCR test. https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control
- Locate an address in the UK (perhaps close to where you are staying) where you can get a PCR test for your return journey (no later than 72 hours before departure).
- You may also need an antigen test (quick test) too. Check the guidelines for your own country. https://uk.usembassy.gov/covid-19-coronavirus-information/
- You may also need a declaration of quarantine if this is required when you return to your own country.
- Fill in a passenger locator form 48 hours before departure. This allows the authorities to contact you if a fellow passenger has developed Covid-19 after arrival in the UK.
Your return journey from UK back home:
This may differ from country to country, so it is wise to check if you need to quarantine on your return. You may need to:
- Produce evidence of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.