(Photo: WHO)

Many countries are re-imposing stricter rules for entry into their territory in the face of what scientists are calling the 5th wave of the pandemic. Or to contain a new variant detected in southern Africa called “Omicron”.

United Kingdom

“We are not going to prevent people from travelling”, declared British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a press conference on 27 November. Although Britons and foreign travellers can move from one country to another in theory, the new rules largely hinder this freedom of movement.

Boris Johnson’s press conference

explained to the public the measures taken by the government to deal with the new Omicron variant, which has already been detected throughout Europe.

While travellers can indeed move between the UK and the rest of the world, the new rules will come as a shock. From Tuesday 30 November, all travellers from the European Union will again be subject to a PCR test on the second day after arrival in the UK. And will have to isolate themselves accordingly until the result of this test.

This means additional costs and a significant loss of time. Especially for a business traveller. The measurements are based on a self-test delivered to the place of stay. It will cost a minimum of £45 for delivery. But the price can fluctuate up to more than £100, depending on the urgency of the need and the location of delivery.

Boris Johnson conceded that the travel restrictions “seemed harsh”. But the Prime Minister insisted that the whole scheme was “targeted and appropriate” and that it was temporary. Finally, he added that “this is the way it is and nothing else”!

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European Union

Within the European Union, the 5th wave is raising doubts in the member countries about the policy to be followed with regard to the movement of travellers. The European Commission has recommended that travel should not be restricted to fully vaccinated people. But this is only a recommendation and the final decision remains the prerogative of each country. At the same time, the European Agency for Disease Prevention (ECDC) recommended avoiding non-essential travel.

However, the Commission is working on a possible reduction of the validity of the European health passport for vaccinated persons. This validity would be reduced from 12 to 9 months except in the case of a booster.

Faced with the resurgence of the epidemic, some EU countries are now tightening up their entry conditions.

In Portugal, Prime Minister Antonio Costa has indicated that as of December 1, all travellers will have to present a negative test of less than 48 hours for Covid-19, regardless of their vaccination status. The government says that the

Travellers will also have to show their health pass to access many public places – restaurants, bars, museums, gyms etc.

In Germany, the new government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz is likely to suggest the more systematic use of the 2G+ rule. 2G means that only people who have been vaccinated or cured of Covid are allowed to enter public places. 2G+ would mean that these same people would also have to produce a negative antigenic test to enter certain particularly busy places.

Outside Europe, Morocco has suspended all direct flights to its territory since Monday, for two weeks. Israel and Japan have banned the entry of all foreign travellers since 29 November. Until further notice…