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COVID-19 VACCINES

UPDATE: UK says European travellers with mixed Covid doses do now count as ‘fully vaccinated’

After much confusion, criticism and contradictory messages the UK government has discreetly changed its Covid border rules - meaning that those vaccinated in Europe with mixed doses are considered fully inoculated and therefore can avoid quarantine.

UPDATE: UK says European travellers with mixed Covid doses do now count as 'fully vaccinated'
Photo: Ben Fathers / AFP

The UK government has updated its information regarding its new Covid border rules for England (Devolved countries Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may announce different policies) after complaints that its policy towards those with mixed vaccine doses was confusing.

This week British embassies have published information to say the UK would accept those with mixed Covid doses (for example one dose of AstraZeneca and one Pfizer) as fully vaccinated from October 4th even though the UK’s Department of Health and Social care insisted to The Local that there was no change in policy.

After repeated demands for clarity on behalf of our readers the government has discreetly updated its website with new information that confirms the mixed doses administered in Europe are now acceptable from now on.

In other words travellers who have had one dose of AstraZeneca and then a Pfizer or Moderna second dose, don’t have to wait until October 4th. They are considered fully vaccinated from now and can therefore avoid quarantine.

There wasn’t any apparent good news for those who have had Covid and then one dose of the vaccine – as is standard practice in many European countries. It still appears the UK considers this group of people as not fully vaccinated for the purpose of entry, although The Local has asked for clarification.

Here’s a summary of what the UK government’s new rules are for travel to England regarding mixed doses:

  • From 4am Monday 4th October, you will qualify as fully vaccinated if you are vaccinated either under an approved vaccination programme in the UK, Europe or USA.
  • Where 2 doses of a vaccine are required for a full course, you will be able to mix 2 different types of vaccine, for example Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna

  • You will be able to have the 2 vaccinations under 2 different approved programmes, for example Australia and Japan, UK and USA, EU and Canada.

  • The government also states: “Until 4 October, mixed vaccines are only permitted if you are vaccinated under the UK, Europe, USA or UK overseas vaccination programme.”

Previously the UK had not accepted those with mixed doses as being fully vaccinated, which caused much anger among travellers from Europe.

One reader told The Local: “My partner, a British national with mixed vaccines, feels like a second class citizen and hasn’t seen her family since December 2019.”

In several European countries the mixing of Covid vaccines has been quite widespread, particularly for those who had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine before guidelines on its use in individual countries changed – German chancellor Angela Merkel and French health minister Olivier Véran were among those who had mixed doses.

The UK is also changing its much-criticised entry rules from October 4th.

Vaccinated travellers heading from European countries to the England should take note of the following changes:

  • The UK has scrapped its “amber” list which contained most European countries. It now has just a reduced red list and then the “rest of the world” which currently contains European countries.
  • Vaccinated travellers from those countries not on the red list will not need to undertake pre-departure tests for travel to England (previously those travelling from European countries needed a PCR or antigen/lateral flow test within 72 hours of travel. This measure will be applicable from October 4th a 4am.
  • Those arriving in England from a non-red country will still need a test on day two of arrival, but it can be the cheaper lateral flow tests rather than the expensive PCR tests which previously needed to be reserved and paid for in advance of travel. This measure will come into force “later in October”. It was not clear whether these would have to be paid for and reserved in advance.
  • If you qualify as fully vaccinated you will have to: book and pay for a day 2 COVID-19 test – to be taken after arrival in England, complete your passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before you arrive in England, take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 after you arrive in England

  • The UK says “you must be able to prove that you have been fully vaccinated (plus 14 days) with a document (digital or paper-based) from a national or state-level public health body that includes, as a minimum:

  • forename and surname(s)
  • date of birth vaccine brand and manufacturer
  • date of vaccination for every dose (Note that most vaccination certificates only contain the date of the second injection. We haven’t heard of this being a problem)
  • country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer

Travellers who are not vaccinated must continue to quarantine in England or 10 days as well as take pre-departure tests and tests on day 2 and day 8 after arrival.

If you have any questions regarding travel from Europe to the UK please email us at [email protected]

Member comments

  1. Great news, but…a question from one of the quarter million Canadians who received Astra Zeneca Covishield…
    Is it accepted under these new rules?

      1. Thank you, fellow reader. Things are changing so quickly… Now wondering about acceptance of mixed doses. Am continuing to dive into the documents to clarify this. The Local is of enormous help by providing clear answers and links. Grazie!

  2. It says the proof must include: country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer.

    I don’t see this listed on the certificate in TousAntiCovid app. Does that mean we need to carry the two paper/barcode sheets which do seem to have this?

    1. I expect that this is the EU DCC equivalent QR code? If so, try to download the Corona Warn or CovPass apps used in Germany. Scan the QR code in that and this shows you the issuing country as well.

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TRAVEL NEWS

How Brexit and Covid have derailed Eurostar services between France and UK

The French boss of Eurostar has laid out how the combination of the pandemic, Brexit and ongoing uncertainty over new EU travel rules have left the company in a very precarious position.

How Brexit and Covid have derailed Eurostar services between France and UK

The Eurostar CEO Jacques Damas has laid out the company’s woes in a long letter to British MPs, stating that as things stand “Eurostar cannot currently pursue a strategy of volume and growth. We are having to focus on our core routes . . . and to charge higher prices to customers”.

He said that two things have significantly damaged the company – the pandemic (worsened by the fact that the company received no state aid from the UK government) and Brexit which has made travel between France and the UK considerably more complicated with more checks required at stations.

(You can listen to The Local France team discuss the future of Eurostar in our new podcast episode below. Just press play or download it here for later.)

Damas said that peak capacity at both London St Pancras and Paris Gare du Nord is 30 percent less than it was pre-Brexit, because of the increased infrastructure needed to check and stamp the passports of travellers.

He said: “Even with all booths manned, St Pancras can only process a maximum of 1,500 passengers per hour, against 2,200 in 2019.

“It is only the fact that Eurostar has capacity-limited trains and significantly reduced its timetable from 2019 levels, that we are not seeing daily queues in the centre of London similar to those experienced in the Channel ports.

“This situation has obvious commercial consequences and is not sustainable in the mid to long-term.”

He added that the increased passport checks and stamping needed since Brexit adds at least 15 seconds to each passenger’s processing time, and that automated passport gates are less efficient.

The other factor that has hit the company hard was the pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions, leading to revenues being cut by 95 percent for 15 months.

The London-based company struggled to access government financial aid due to its ownership structure, with both the British and French governments reluctant to assume sole responsibility for bailing out the company.

It began as a joint venture between the British and French governments, but then the British sold off its share to private investors.

Damas said: “Contrary to the £7 billion in state aid given to our airline competitors, Eurostar did not receive any state-backed loans”. 

By May 2021 the company was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and was eventually bailed out to the tune of €290 million in loans and shareholder-guaranteed loans and equity – although this saved the company it has now left it with huge debts to be repaid.

The CEO’s letter was responding to questions from British MPs on the Transport Select Committee who wanted to know when trains would again stop at Ashford station – which has been closed since March 2020. Damas said there was no immediate prospect of that, or of reinstating the route to Disneyland Paris, while the company grapples with these financial problems.

He added that there is also “considerable uncertainty” around the new EU travel systems known as the EES and ETIAS, which are due to come into effect in 2023 and which will require extra checking of passports at the EU’s external borders – such as the UK/France border. 

READ ALSO Fears of ‘massive travel disruption’ in 2023

Many Eurostar passengers have commented recently on increased ticket prices, and it seems that there is little immediate prospect of prices going back down to 2019 levels. 

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