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TRAVELLING TO FRANCE

European travellers warned they may have to self-isolate in UK

People vaccinated in an EU or Schengen zone country are being warned that they may have to self-isolate if they travel to the UK, since the British contact tracing service does not recognise them as being fully vaccinated.

Arrivals in the UK should know about self-isolation rules.
Arrivals in the UK should know about self-isolation rules. Photo: Ben Fathers/AFP

After initially refusing to recognise any Covid vaccine administered outside the UK, the British government now counts as ‘fully vaccinated’ for travel purposes people who had both doses of the vaccine in an EU or Schengen zone country.

That means that those fully vaccinated can enter the country without having to quarantine.

However, once in the country, if they are alerted by the Test and Trace service as a contact case, they will have to self-isolate for 10 days.

Fully-vaccinated people are exempt from the requirement to self-isolate if a contact case – but this only applies to people who received their vaccines in the UK. The Test and Trace programme refuses to recognise any vaccines administered outside the UK, meaning that anyone vaccinated in the EU faces a 10-day self-isolation period. The ten days are counted from the time of contact with the person who tested positive.

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The Local asked the Department for Transport how they could justify the different treatment of people who had received the exact same vaccines in different countries and were told: “If a person has been vaccinated abroad they are required to self-isolate if they test positive or have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive, even if they have received a vaccine equivalent to those approved by the MHRA for use in the UK.

“Our domestic verification process currently only recognises the vaccination status of individuals who received their vaccine in the UK. We continue to keep this under review.”

Daily average of confirmed new cases of Covid per million people for the UK, plus the countries covered by The Local. Map: Our World in Data

The UK government rules also state that anyone who has Covid symptoms should self isolate for 10 days, unless they have had a negative Covid test. This applies to everyone, including people who were fully vaccinated in the UK or abroad.

Self-isolation can be done at a private address if you are staying with family or friends, but those staying in hotels or Airbnb face having to extend their stay and rearrange transport home while they complete their 10-day self-isolation.

New cases in the UK are currently running at an average of about 50,000 – by far the highest in western Europe – so coming into contact with an infected person while on a visit to the UK is not unlikely.

Although most people vaccinated in Europe can now travel to the UK without having to quarantine on arrival, the UK government does not recognise people who had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard policy in many European countries – so people with this option will still have to quarantine.

Reader question: I’ve had one vaccine dose after recovery from Covid – what are my travel options?

Find more detail of the UK Test and Trace rules here.

Member comments

    1. I was contacted by the Track and trace in September, just said I had been vaccinated (I didn’t tell them where ) and that was it.

  1. This happened to me at the end of September. There is no need to isolate on arrival if you are fully vaccinated but if you are identified as being in contact with someone (e.g. on the flight to the UK) then you have to isolate until the 10th day after contact. Those vaccinated in the UK don’t need to isolate, just non-UK vaccinated. I didn’t have to isolate until the 6th day there when I was contacted by the NHS Track and Trace. Schrödinger’s Vaccinated.

  2. My first reaction, as someone who has London reservations for early December, was that this was bullsh*t. But, come to think, if I were notified in France that I’d been in contact with an infected person here, I’d probably be inclined to self-isolate even though I’m vaccinated. Given the much higher likelihood of that happening in the UK, with its much higher infection rate … well, I’ve been considering cancelling my trip anyway, and this may cinch it. Tough luck, London hotels and concert halls.

  3. Is this actually across the whole UK, or is it true only for England? My daughter lives & was vaccinated in Scotland & she has told me she had to self-isolate when Track & Trace identified her as a contact case.
    I know it’s hard to keep up with all the details but ‘UK’ is so often used as a proxy for England when the devolved governments are often following different policies.

  4. So “Track and Trace” recognises only English (or is it UKGBNI?) vaccinations, presumably including non-Brits worldwide who have been vaccinated in England (or is it UKGBNI?). Will “Track and Trace” or the person/authority concerned please tell us why. If he/she/it/they won’t, why not?
    Could it be one of these reasons: 1) England (or is it UKGBNI?) considers itself the only country capable of properly delivering vaccinations? 2) Does England’s (or is it UKGBNI’s?) choice of vaccines rule out the relevance or efficacy of other vaccines? 3) Is the special treatment viewed as an aide to preventing further spectacular increases in England’s (or is it UKGBNI’s?) covid count from new cases to deaths? 4) How wide is the contact area for “Test and Trace” to feel compelled to act – eg. an aeroplane cabin, a train or chunnel carriage, a cross channel ferry, an airport terminal, a motorway service station – you get my drift? 5) Is this because Morocco has put England (or is it UKGBNI?) on its red list? 6) Was it a misprint in some administrative/governmental memo?
    Can someone throw some light on the matter, apart from being bewildered?
    Chris L-W.

  5. I was pinged from the NHS track and trace in August and had to stay in the UK an extra week which caused me problems with my German employer

    I have just started a gov.uk petition for this to be reviewed. Unfortunately it won’t be published for a week due to the review process. But if you can, please search under https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions?state=open&q=covid for “Recognise EU COVID Vaccination Certificate for NHS Test and Trace exemption” next week and join the petition.

  6. This happened to me. While I was visiting the UK from October from Germany, I got pinged by NHS Track and Trace 2 days before my flight home (presumably they automatically sign you up from details on the UK Passenger Locator form?). I was told that I was “Legally Mandated” to self isolate for 10 days BUT ONLY because my double-vaccinated status was not recognized due to being given in Germany (incidentally where my BionTech vaccine was developed). I took absolutely no notice whatsoever (apart from doing 2 negative lateral flow self-tests before leaving), and took my flight as normal. Don’t worry, the NHS TnT people are so incompetent, it is very unlikely that they would ever catch anyone, and I was fully prepared to legally challenge this purely political spite. So, will absolutely sign up to the UK petition when available online. Thanks!

  7. Track and Trace has been a failure and they are just going through the motions. I plan to travel by train from Provence to Wales in March. The French Govt continues to apply sensible précautions and the majority of French people (at least where I live) continue to répond in a responsible manner. Most of those on the TGV and Eurostar will have been double jabbed and will be wearing masques. I will not feel unsafe until I alight at St Pancras. I may be inclined to voluntarily self-isolate on my return to France. There is a far greater risk of me bringing infection back from the UK than carrying it in.

  8. Happened to me last week! Is there any way you guys can keep an eye on this and update the article if they update their rules in the UK? That would be super helpful!

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For members

TOURISM

Why Italian resorts are struggling to fill jobs this summer

Italy's tourist season is expected to be back in full swing this year - but will there be enough workers to meet the demand?

Why Italian resorts are struggling to fill jobs this summer

Italy’s tourist numbers are booming, sparking hopes that the industry could see a return to something not far off pre-pandemic levels by the summer.

There’s just one catch: there aren’t nearly enough workers signing up for seasonal jobs this year to supply all that demand.

READ ALSO: Will tourism in Italy return to pre-pandemic levels this year?

“There’s a 20 percent staff shortage, the situation is dramatic,” Fulvio Griffa, president of the Italian tourist operators federation Fiepet Confesercenti, told the Repubblica news daily.

Estimates for how many workers Italy is missing this season range from 70,000 (the figure given by the small and medium enterprise federation Conflavoro PMI) to 300-350,000 (the most recent estimate from Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia, who last month quoted 250,000).

Whatever the exact number is, everyone agrees: it’s a big problem.

READ ALSO: Dining outdoors and hiking: How visitors plan to holiday in Italy this summer

Italy isn’t the only European country facing this issue. France is also short an estimated 300,000 seasonal workers this year. Spain is down 50,000 waiters, and Austria is missing 15,000 hired hands across its food and tourism sectors.

Italy’s economy, however, is particularly dependent on tourism. If the job vacancies can’t be filled and resorts are unable to meet the demand anticipated this summer, the country stands to lose an estimated  €6.5 billion.

Italy's tourism businesses are missing an estimated 20 percent of workers.
Italy’s tourism businesses are missing an estimated 20 percent of workers. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

“After two years of pandemic, it would be a sensational joke to miss out on a summer season that is expected to recover strongly due to the absence of workers,” said Vittorio Messina, president of the Assoturismo Confesercenti tourist association.

Different political factions disagree as to exactly what (and who) is to blame for the lack of interest from applicants.

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

Italy’s tourism minister Massimo Garavaglia, a member of the right wing League party, has singled out the reddito di cittadinanza, or ‘citizen’s income’ social security benefit introduced by the populist Five Star Movement in 2019 for making unemployment preferable to insecure, underpaid seasonal work.

Bernabò Bocca, the president of the hoteliers association Federalberghi, agrees with him – along with large numbers of small business owners.

“What’s going to make an unemployed person come to me for 1,300 euros a month if he can stay sprawled on the beach and live off the damned citizenship income?” complained an anonymous restauranteur interviewed by the Corriere della Sera news daily.

“Before Covid, I had a stack of resumes this high on my desk in April. Now I’m forced to check emails every ten minutes hoping someone will come forward. Nothing like this had ever happened to me.” 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

Italy is experiencing a dire shortage of workers this tourist season.
Italy is experiencing a dire shortage of workers this tourist season. Photo: Andrea Pattaro / AFP.

Five Star MPs, however, argue that the focus on the unemployment benefit is a distraction from the real issues of job insecurity and irregular contracts.

There appears to be some merit to that theory. A recent survey of 1,650 seasonal workers found that only 3 percent of the people who didn’t work in the 2021 tourist season opted out due to the reddito di cittadinza.

In fact the majority (75 percent) of respondents who ended up not working over the 2021 season said they had searched for jobs but couldn’t find any openings because the Covid situation had made it too uncertain for companies to hire in advance.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

Others said the most of jobs that were advertised were only for a 2-3 month duration, half the length of the season (again, due to Covid uncertainty), making it not worth their while to relocate.

Giancarlo Banchieri, a hotelier who is also president of the Confesercenti business federation, agrees that Covid has been the main factor in pushing workers away from the industry, highlighting “the sense of precariousness that this job has taken on in the last two years: many people have abandoned it for fear of the uncertainty of a sector that has experienced a terrible time.”

The instability brought about by two years of Covid restrictions has pushed many workers away from the tourism sector.
The instability brought about by two years of Covid restrictions has pushed many workers away from the tourism sector. Photo: Andrea Pattaro / AFP.

“I said goodbye to at least seven employees, and none of them are sitting at home on the citizen’s income,” Banchieri told Repubblica. “They have all reinvented themselves elsewhere; some are plumbers, others work in the municipality.”

READ ALSO: OPINION: Mass tourism is back in Italy – but the way we travel is changing

To counteract the problem, Garavaglia has proposed three measures: increasing the numbers of visas available for seasonal workers coming from abroad; allowing people to work in summer jobs while continuing to receive 50 percent of their citizen’s income; and reintroducing a voucher system that allows casual workers to receive the same kinds of welfare and social security benefits as those on more formal contracts.

Whether these will be enough to save Italy’s 2022 tourist season remains to be seen, but at this stage industry operators will take whatever fixes are offered.

“The sector is in such a dire situation that any common sense proposals much be welcomed,” the Federalberghi president Bocca told journalists.

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