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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

A UK border sign welcomes passengers at Heathrow airport.
A UK border sign welcomes passengers at Heathrow airport. Covid travel restrictions are to be scrapped from March 18. (Photo by Ben FATHERS / AFP)

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Tips for short-haul foreign travel from Denmark this Christmas

For the past two Christmases strict Covid rules prevented many people from travelling. This year that isn't an issue, but there are strikes, service reductions and high ticket prices to contend with.

Tips for short-haul foreign travel from Denmark this Christmas

Whether you’re a foreigner in Denmark planning a trip to see friends or relatives over the festive season, a second-home owner or you’re planning a Christmas or New Year trip to Denmark, there are several things worth keeping in mind when planning travel.

Strikes

If you’re taking a trip to the UK, be aware that rail workers are currently engaged in a protracted battle to secure pay increases that will help them cope with the soaring cost of living, and have not ruled out further strikes over the festive season.

If you’re going to Italy there are widespread air and rail strikes in November that could continue into December, while Germany has also seen airline strikes. Low-cost airlines in Spain are also staging strike action that is currently scheduled to last until after Christmas.

You can find the latest in Italy here, Spain here and Germany here.

Flying

Many airlines are struggling to bring back staffing to pre-pandemic levels, making it difficult for them to increase the number of flights to meet demand. The current oil prices have also significantly increased airlines’ fuel costs.

Long-haul flights have been particularly affected, with flights from Denmark to New Zealand for a family of four costing around 100,000 Danish kroner over the Christmas period.

Short-haul flights aren’t quite as jaw-dropping but can still be expensive.

One tip to consider, is flying from a different airport to reduce savings. 

“For the first time in six years of living here in Copenhagen we are using Billund airport to fly to the U.K. for Christmas as it was a third of the price of flying out of Copenhagen on the same dates in December,” The Local reader Rachel Prowse said.

Flights for two adults and two children for two weeks over Christmas from Copenhagen to London Stansted currently cost between 3,500 and 4,500 kroner. From Billund to London Stansted for a family of four it costs between 1,700 kroner and 2,500 kroner depending on the flight time. 

Another reader of The Local suggested advance booking and avoiding check-in luggage to keep costs down.

Trains

DSB is the national rail operator in Denmark. Timetables and tickets can be found at dsb.dk, including discounts for travelling outside of rush hours. The timetable for train travel over the Christmas period which includes slightly adjusted times.

Copenhagen central train station has direct services to Sweden and Germany. From Germany, you will have access to the rest of Europe.

Thanks to a newly launched overnight train service in 2021, you can catch an evening train from Copenhagen and wake up in either Hamburg or Berlin.

The train stops in Høje Taastrup and drops off in Hamburg and Berlin the following morning, although there are not many tickets left over the Christmas period. 

The Seat 61 website provides tips on how to travel comfortably and affordably by train. It includes an introduction to train travel in Europe, as well as an extensive search feature to find trains by starting location.

For example the website guides you through taking trains from Aarhus, Aalborg, Kolding, Odense or Copenhagen to Brussels, Cologne or Hamburg. From Brussels you can take the Eurostar onto London.

However be aware that the Eurostar is running around one third fewer services in order to avoid massive queues due to the post-Brexit passport check rules, and passengers are now advised to allow 90 minutes for pre-boarding checks. Financial troubles at the company have also seen ticket prices rise.

The Trainline is an international platform focused on train travel. The company is based in the UK but has extensive coverage of train travel in 45 countries across Europe.

The aim of the Trainline is find to the cheapest tickets for a selected route. Most of the time, this means booking in advance.

Ferry

An overnight ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo for a family of four costs around 3,300 kroner without including meals. 

There are two ferry routes operating between Denmark and Sweden: Frederikshavn to Gothenburg and Grenaa to Halmstad, which costs around 900 kroner for a family of four without a car over Christmas.

You can travel between Denmark and the UK using ferries. You can take a train from Copenhagen to Hamburg, then Hamburg to Rotterdam and sail overnight from Rotterdam to Hull by P&O cruise ferry.

You can also take the overnight ferry from Amsterdam to Newcastle by DFDS Seaways cruise ferry. You can get from Copenhagen to Amsterdam by train via Hamburg or you can take the car.

This method may not save you money but can make the journey more fun if you want to avoid airport delays.

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