NEWS: France amber+ & testing changes, Spain changes testing rules, Bulgaria bans UK & FCDO changes

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France goes to amber+ and testing changes for unvaccinated

Yesterday the UK government was considering adding France to the red list due to the high proportion of the Beta variant first detected in South Africa. Instead, they have gone for an odd decision which some are calling amber+ or “dark amber”. It basically gets rid of the dispensation for those fully vaccinated to not have to quarantine for 10 days and the day 8 test. Given the disruption to supplies that a red listing would bring, this appears to be a political compromise. 

So for everyone returning from France (or if you transit through France and get out of your transport or other people join) they will now have to:

  • Have a test before leaving France (applies to all destinations into the UK)
  • Have both a day 2 and day 8 test
  • Quarantine at home for 10 days
  • You can shorten your quarantine by using “test to release” on day 5

This applies irrespective of vaccination status.

There was also a lot of confusion this morning as France initially seemed to suggest that all travellers would need a negative Covid test within the 24 hours before entering France. It has now been confirmed that this only applies to those unvaccinated if you are travelling to France from the UK, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Greece. Fortunately, it does allow rapid antigen tests (lateral flow) where you can get the results in 20 minutes or less. Unvaccinated children aged 11 years old or over are required to present evidence of a negative test taken within 24 hours of departure.

You can find more details here. 


Bulgaria bans the UK

Sofia in Bulgaria

No sooner had the green list updates been announced than Bulgaria said that it would not allow any visitors from the UK including Northern Ireland from 19 July, meaning British tourist won’t be allowed in. That now makes three of the recent additions to the green list that Brits can’t enter. (Taiwan and Hong Kong being the others). Bad news for anyone with a cheap ex Sofia fare. 


Spain changes testing rules

long haul aircraft on short haul europe

Plaza Major, Madrid

Spain has changed their testing rules several times recently but finally they have introduced a positive change. Up until this announcement if you are unvaccinated you had to have a test 48 hours before arrival and could only have PCR tests including LAMP which was a pretty tight timeframe for most to achieve. This has now been expanded to 72 hours which makes it much more achievable. 

You can find the full details here. 


FCDO changes

The FCDO has removed warnings from more countries after they were moved to the green list. Despite the announcement that Bulgaria and Croatia would move to the green list, there was still a warning on both countries until late yesterday. This has now been corrected.

Remember that some amber countries could have an FCDO warning which invalidates many travel insurance policies. The way to check is to look up the country on this page. Warnings will be displayed in bold at the top of the page if one exists. 

4 Comments on "NEWS: France amber+ & testing changes, Spain changes testing rules, Bulgaria bans UK & FCDO changes"

  1. Ridiculous decision to put France back on the quarantine list. Most cases of the Beta variant are in their Indian Ocean territories, like Reunion Island, and not in mainland France. It’s like banning people from the UK from a country because the Falkland Islands have a variant of concern! Yet another ill informed decision by this incompetent government.

    • Yes I read some interesting statistics after I wrote the article of the actual percentage of cases. It would also be interesting to see if it actually took off even if we did import cases of Beta given that Delta is far more transmissible.

  2. Andrew O'Hare | 18 July 2021 at 4:19 pm | Reply

    I suspect we are about to get an announcement of a new variant.

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