Half-term holidays: Latest travel rules for Spain, Greece, France and Italy

The half-term holidays are upon us – and with them, the opportunity for families to travel abroad as countries around Europe relax entry restrictions once more.

Many destinations including the UK tightened rules at the tail-end of last year, as Omicron swept across the world.

But following evidence that the variant – though more transmissible – appears to be less severe, the world is opening back up.

Here are the entry requirements and basic domestic rules for some of British travellers’ favorite European holiday hotspots.

Entry requirements

Only adults who can show proof of full vaccination are allowed into Spain – children aged under 12 are exempt.

From Monday 14 February, travelers aged 12-17 will also be allowed to enter Spain even if not double jabbed – provided they show a negative PCR test taken within the 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain. Under 12s are exempt from testing requirements.

Since the beginning of February, Spain has imposed a strict timeframe on vaccination validity. Following the European Union Commission’s recommendations, authorities in Spain announced that only vaccination records which show a final dose administered within the previous 270 days will be recognized as valid.

It means that people who received their second jab more than nine months ago will need a booster shot in order to be deemed fully vaccinated.

All passengers must also complete and sign an online Health Control Form no more than 48 hours prior to travel, declaring any known history of exposure to Covid-19 and giving contact details.

Domestic rules

Restrictions vary from region to region in Spain.

As of 9 February, a strict outdoor mask mandate has been dropped.

However, at present, everyone over the age of six must wear a face mask in enclosed public spaces, on public transport and in crowded outdoor areas where it is not possible to socially distance.

Social distancing measures of 1.5m are also in place throughout the country.

Depending on which region you’re traveling to, you may need to show proof of vaccination to enter accommodation or local venues while in the country.

Read our full travel guide to Spain

Entry requirements

Since 7 February, anyone who can show proof of two vaccine doses or more (your NHS Covid Pass is accepted) can enter Greece without having to test first.

Greece has also implemented a timeframe for vaccine validity, meaning that your Covid pass will need to show that you had your second vaccine jab within the past 270 days. If your second dose was given before that, you’ll need a booster jab for your proof of vaccination to remain valid.

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For those who have not been vaccinated, or had only a single dose of a two-dose vaccine, you must still present a negative Covid test result on arrival – this can be a PCR test taken within the 72 hours before arrival, or an antigen test taken within 24 hours before arrival.

Children under the age of five are exempt from the testing requirement.

Everyone must complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) before travelling.

Domestic rules

You’ll need a proof of vaccination certificate handy (on your phone or hard copy) to access a lot of places.

At present, unvaccinated people cannot enter enclosed eating areas, entertainment facilities, museums, exhibition centers, fitness centers and sports venues.

They can enter outdoor eating areas, retail shops, hair salons, public and private sector workplaces, churches, and schools if they have a negative PCR test result no older than 72 hours.

Supermarkets, bakeries, sweet shops, pharmacies, and urban public transportation remain open to all. The strict vaccine passport rules are expected to remain in place until at least 31 March 2022.

Mask-wearing is required in enclosed public spaces, and where social distancing cannot be maintained. This usually amounts to museums and attractions, entering and being seated in restaurants, at large-scale events and in taxis or on public transport.

Since late December, the rules have been tightened to require either double surgical masks, or more protective FPP2 masks, on public transport and in “indoor public spaces”.

Read our full travel guide to Greece

Entry requirements

As a British traveler going on holiday, visiting family or friends or embarking on a business trip, you will need proof of full vaccination.

According to the train operator Eurostar, the final vaccine of an initial course of jabs must have been administered in the past nine months – after that, a booster must have been received (no time limit is given for how recent a booster should be).

If your second dose was given more than nine months ago and you haven’t yet had a booster, you will not be considered fully vaccinated.

Travelers must currently also present a negative result from a rapid antigen or PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure to France – although this requirement looks set to be scrapped in the coming weeks.

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Under 12s need not be vaccinated nor take tests.

For the purposes of admission to France, young people aged 12-17 can travel according to the rules that apply to their accompanying adult: if the adult is fully vaccinated, the child is regarded the same, but are subject to testing requirements.

You must sign a “sworn undertaking to comply with rules for entry” – asserting that you have not been suffering from coronavirus symptoms and “have no knowledge of having been in contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 during the last 14 days”.

Domestic rules

Access to almost any venue in France requires you to provide – usually via a smartphone app – that you are a low-risk person.

Previously, the TousAntiCovid pass was acceptable with evidence of a negative test or recovery. However, the health pass (sanitaire pass) has now become a pass sanitaire vaccinal – with only vaccinations acceptable.

Proof that you have been fully vaccinated has a tighter definition than simply being double jabbed. Broadly, all adults who had their second jab over seven months ago must have proof of a booster vaccination to be considered fully vaccinated.

From 15 February, the timeframe shrinks further: “full vaccination” expires four months after the second jab has been administered. This change to four months only applies to domestic use while in France – not Covid Pass use getting into the country, the timeframe for which remains at nine months.

The exemption for entry to France (ie if the adult is fully jabbed, accompanying children are also deemed to be) does not apply for access to venues.

For proof of vaccination, people aged 16+ should be able to access the NHS app.

Vaccinated children aged 12-15 or their parents can apply online for an NHS Covid Pass letter, which is then posted out to them. As of 3 February they are also available through the NHS app.

Under-16s can instead take a rapid antigen (lateral flow) test in the 24 hours before intending to access the venue. This option is not open to 16-and 17-year-olds.

Read our full travel guide to France

Entry requirements

Double-jabbed travelers with proof of vaccination, a passenger locator form and a negative result from a PCR test (taken within the 48 hours prior to travel) or antigen test (24 hours) may arrive in Italy and explore without quarantining.

Those who have not been fully vaccinated must provide the same form and test result, but also notify the “prevention department” of the municipality they are traveling to of their trip. On arrival they must self-isolate for five days in their accommodation and take a further PCR test or antigen test on day five, emerging from quarantine only if they receive a negative result.

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Those with fewer than two jabs are also asked to use private rather than public transport to reach their destination in Italy after arrival.

As of February 2022, Italy has also implemented a validity period of 270 days on proof of vaccination for entry to the country, meaning that if your second dose was administered more than nine months ago, you will need a booster vaccine in order to be considered fully vaccinated.

Those under the age of 18 may avoid quarantine if traveling with a fully vaccinated parent or guardian, while children under six are exempt from the testing requirements.

Domestic rules

Visitors across Italy will need a “super green pass” vaccine passport – essentially, proof of having had two vaccine doses – to access most public venues and modes of transport.

An NHS Covid Pass QR code can be used as a super green pass in Italy.

From February, your Covid Pass will need to show that your most recent vaccine dose was given within the past six months in order to be deemed valid to access indoor venues.

Italy still splits its 20 regions into colour-coded zones – red, orange, yellow and white – depending on how high the risk of Covid infection is at present, with different rules attached to each category.

Orange restrictions include not being able to move around the country outside of your municipality, curfews from midnight to 5am, and venues such as restaurants, bars, museums and theaters being closed.

From 11 February, the use of masks is no longer mandatory in outdoor spaces, except in places of large gatherings such as sporting events.

However, safer FFP2 masks are mandatory in certain situations – on flights to and from Italy, on public transport, in theatres, concert halls and cinemas and for sporting events – until at least 31 March.

Children aged 5 and under do not need to wear a mask.

Read our full travel guide to Italy


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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