Families face half-term holiday disruption as Europe toughens up Covid travel rules

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Families may face disruption to their half-term holidays plans amid confusion over the implementation of Covid vaccination policy in the EU.

Tourists heading to the continent from the UK have been urged to double check travel policy in the country they are visiting as regulations differ across the bloc.

Earlier this week, Spanish tourism officials told The Times that children who have had one vaccine dose will not be permitted to enter the country – even if they have recently recovered from Covid.

The rule change threatens to derail holiday plans for families.

Under the current regulations, children aged between 12-15 who catch Covid after their first vaccine dose must wait 12 weeks before getting a second jab.

Unvaccinated travellers heading to Spain must also provide a negative lateral flow test 24 hours before departing and they must have an essential reason to visit the country.

Spanish officials’ decision comes amid a sluggish vaccination rollout for children aged between 12 and 15 in the UK.

More than one million children in the age group in England remain completely unvaccinated while around 58 per cent in have had their first jab.

Just 17 per cent have had their second dose.

In France, 76 per cent of 12 to 17-year-olds were double vaccinated by the start of December while Spain had fully jabbed 87.6 per cent of 12 to 19-year-olds at the same point.

Meanwhile, a surge in cases among teenagers means some children will have missed out on receiving their second jab – plunging holidays of those families to Spain into chaos.

Covid cases have been highest among children age two to school year in the last week, the ONS revealed.

In England, around one in eight children (13.1%) from age two to school year 6 are likely to have had Covid-19 last week.

For children in school years 7 to 11, the estimate was around one in 13 (7.6%).

France on Thurday announced vaccinated Britons will not be allowed to enter the country if they received their second jab more than nine months ago.

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Anyone entering the country from the UK must already take a PCR or antigen test at least 24 hours before arriving – regardless of their vaccination status.

It follows a recommendation by the EU that all countries adopt the nine month rule from February 1, though member states are continuing to impose different regulations.

Under the new French regulations, anyone who had their second jab over nine months ago will be treated as “unvaccinated” – meaning they must self-isolate for ten days on arrival and provide a valid reason to enter the country.

A message on the Eurostar website reads: “To be recognised as fully vaccinated for travel purposes, anyone aged 18 or over must have had either their primary approved course of full vaccination within the past 9 months OR a COVID-19 vaccine booster.”

Ministers have warned countries across the world will soon require evidence of booster vaccination for travel.

Around 65 per cent of British adults have had their third jab.

Travel rules have eased for those returning to England, with fully vaccinated arrivals no longer required to take a Covid test from February 11.

The requirement for those in that category to self-isolate will also be dropped.

Airline Jet2.com and tour operator Jet2holidays reported a “notable increase in demand for holidays and flights” after the new policy was revealed last month.

source : yahoo (UK)

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