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Travel agencies scramble to revamp vacations amid new Covid measures | Coronavirus

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Tour operators are scrambling to revamp ski vacations in Switzerland after the country joined Spain to tighten travel restrictions amid growing concerns over the spread of the new Omicron Covid variant.

From Saturday evening, Switzerland imposed 10 days of quarantine for all new arrivals, effectively wiping out ski holidays in the Swiss Alps until further notice. Travel agencies are also grappling with Spain’s ban on unvaccinated arrivals which will affect British holidaymakers from Wednesday 1 December.

Israel is also expected to announce a fifteen-day ban on foreign visitors, which could go into effect from Monday.

International measures to limit the spread of the new variant of Covid came as tour operators warned that a new testing regime for UK arrivals expected to take effect at the start of this week was “a stunt hard for travel companies ”.

Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that all arrivals to the UK “must undergo a two-day PCR test and self-isolate until they test negative”. For a family of four wanting a quick run test so they can leave quarantine within the day, this could increase the cost of their vacation by around £ 400. The measurements will be reviewed in three weeks.

A sign that people are already rethinking their travel plans in light of the emergence of Omicron, Thomas Cook, the UK’s largest tour operator, said holiday sales on Saturday were on par with previous weeks despite discounts during a Black Friday sale. After Johnson’s announcement on Saturday night, he expects consumer confidence to drop. On Sunday, he was contacting clients who had booked a ski vacation in Switzerland to rearrange them in another country or to move the vacation to next year.

The timing of the new UK restrictions is bad for the travel industry as the weeks ahead until payday in January are seen as the key time to sell vacations for next year, and operators fear the uncertainty as to what impact the new strain of virus will cause a bookings to collapse. Stricter rules imposed by Spain, a key market, only add to the difficulties.

TUI, which runs a ski vacation under the Crystal Ski brand, said: “All customers who do not wish to travel and need to travel until December 13th inclusive can change their vacation free of charge using Crystal’s free changes policy. Ski Holidays. We will continue to monitor the restrictions and if the quarantine is still in effect for all UK arrivals, we will cancel the holidays and customers will receive a full refund within 14 days. “

Swiss cases

EasyJet, which flies throughout Europe, said its customers “can change their flights without a change fee up to two hours before departure. EasyJet also continues to offer a market-leading refund policy for those affected by travel bans across Europe, meaning they can receive a refund, voucher or free transfer on a date. later, even if their flights are still in service.

He said his flight program was operating normally but “we are continuing to monitor the situation closely.”

A spokesperson for Abta said: “These changes will increase the cost of vacations for people, which will undoubtedly impact consumer demand and hold back the industry’s recovery, so it is essential that this decision be carefully considered and the restrictions lifted quickly if it becomes clear that there is no risk to the UK vaccination program.The government must now also consider offering tailor-made support to travel companies, who were among the hardest hit during the pandemic. ”

Spain announced on Saturday that people arriving from the UK would have to show proof of vaccination, ending an exemption from EU travel restrictions. Proof of a negative test result and / or proof that newcomers have had Covid will no longer suffice.

The official announcement seems to suggest that there may be an exemption for children. He specifies that the new policy covers “persons provided with a vaccination certificate recognized as such by the Ministry of Health, as well as accompanying minors to whom the Ministry of Health extends the effects. [of the decision]. “

Meanwhile, there was good news for the many Irish families living in Britain who planned to return to Ireland on their first Christmas, when the British Embassy in Dublin confirmed that PCR testing and quarantine will not be carried out. not required for persons entering Great Britain from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

The exemption for travelers from the common travel area will not apply if they have been outside the area within the previous 10 days.

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