All your Omicron travel and skiing questions, answered

Newsroom Travel All your Omicron travel and skiing questions, answered

Things are looking up in 2022. Yes, Omicron temporarily shut down travel over Christmas, but now Brits can (reasonably) freely travel abroad once more. However, to do so there are certain hoops that need jumping through. And we’ve been inundated with questions from readers, confused about the state of travel, especially regarding families. We thought we’d round up the most frequently asked questions here, and try and answer them.

Note: These restrictions change frequently, and we will endeavour to update this article in line with those changes.

What’s the difference between an antigen test and PCR?

There’s some deep science we won’t go into here, but the most important thing to know is that a PCR test needs to be sent off to a lab for a result, whereas an antigen test can be self-administered and gives you a result within 15 minutes. Antigen tests are also sometimes called lateral-flow tests, and the two terms can be used interchangeably.

Do children under 12 need to be vaccinated to travel?

No, children aged 11 and under don’t need to be vaccinated to travel to most major ski resorts. The one notable exception to this rule is in Canada, where unvaccinated children under the age of 12 are not allowed to: “attend large crowded settings, indoors or outdoors, such as an amusement park or sporting event”, for 14 days after arrival. We understand this to include ski resorts.

Apart from Canada, as long as an under-12 child is travelling with a fully vaccinated adult they are free to travel without restrictions. They may be asked to complete a ‘sworn statement’ such as upon entry to France, confirming they are not suffering from any coronavirus symptoms and have not had contact with any confirmed cases in the past fortnight.

My child isn’t fully vaccinated, can they still travel?

Two children skiing shot from below
Different countries have different rules regarding children and vaccines. Photo: © Shutterstock

If your child hasn’t been fully vaccinated for two weeks by the time of departure, then they may have difficulty travelling depending on their destination. Countries where unvaccinated children can still go skiing with relative ease include Switzerland, France, Austria, Norway, Bulgaria and the USA.

The rules for each do vary slightly, however. Switzerland has no restrictions for under 18s travelling, as long as they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult. In Norway and Bulgaria the cutoff age is 16, and teenagers may need to take a negative test on arrival. In the United States teenagers aged 17 and under who are unvaccinated can travel, but will need to take an antigen test 3 to 5 days after travel.

France recently switched its rules regarding unvaccinated minors. As long as they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult, they are free to travel. However, teenagers over 16 years old, will need to be vaccinated to access ski resort facilities. For those aged 12-15 and not fully vaccinated, they will need a ‘pass sanitaire‘ to access skiing facilities. This means they will either have to have a proof of recovery (more than 11 days old and less than 6 months), or they’ll need to take negative antigen tests daily. Be warned, these tests can cost up to €40.

Austria has a somewhat similar system for unvaccinated minors under the age of 16. If they go skiing for a week, they will need to take two PCR tests and one antigen test during the course of that week, necessary to qualify for the “Ninja Pass”. This will allow them to access ski resort facilities. However, unlike in France, the tests are free.

Ski holidays in destinations such as Italy and Spain, are not advisable if your whole party is not fully vaccinated.

I’m flying into Geneva, and then driving onto a resort in France. When do I need to take a PCR test?

Air France plane
Does your flight destination matter for when you need to take a test? Photo: © Shutterstock

France stipulates that you need to show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken 24 hours pre-departure. Some people had questions about what this means for people who are flying into Geneva, in Switzerland, before transferring on to a destination in France – a popular route for many resorts in the Alps. We confirmed with major ski travel agency Crystal, who confirmed that you need to take the test 24 hours before your flight departs, not from the point you enter France.

If I have proof of recovery from covid, do I still need to be vaccinated?

The rules on proof of recovery range depending on the country. As always, the easiest way to travel is if you’re fully vaccinated, but if that’s not the case, check the UK foreign travel advice portal, to find out each nation’s entry requirements.

I’m double jabbed but yet to have a booster. Will this effect my travel?

That depends on the country you’re intending to travel to, and when you had your last jab. In France you need a booster to access ski resorts if your last jab was more than 7 months ago. Austria at one stage required a booster to travel, but has since repealed that rule – but, if you are boosted you won’t need a negative test for entry.

Do I need to test before returning to the UK?

No, you formerly did so, but after much campaigning from the travel sector, this rule has been scrapped for people who are fully vaccinated. Furthermore, under-18s who are not fully vaccinated also don’t have to take a pre-departure test. However, everyone aged 5 and over will need to take a lateral flow test within 48 hours of arrival back in the UK.

If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, and we’ll endeavour to answer them.


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