Covid: 'We could miss our son's wedding over travel rules'

1 month ago 55

By Russell Hotten and Daniel Thomas
BBC business reporters

Image caption,

British couple Julie and Shaun Taylor

Visitors to the UK say new rules to slow the spread of Omicron have thrown their travel plans into doubt.

Every traveller entering the UK now needs to take a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival, and isolate until they get the result.

Ten southern African countries have been added to the UK's travel red list, meaning arrivals to the UK must pay for and self-isolate in a pre-booked government-approved hotel for 10 days.

Julie and Shaun Taylor, who live in Alicante in Spain, say they were shocked and upset when Boris Johnson announced the changes on Saturday.

Their son is getting married on Thursday in the Cotswolds, and while the British couple took PCR tests as soon at they arrived at Gatwick on Tuesday, they are worried they won't get the results on time and won't be able to go.

"If I'm not there, my son's going to be heartbroken - he's not going to get married again and he's been planning it for two years," Julie told the BBC.

"We do understand why it's got to happen, but the rules change so quickly."

She said that if they test positive they "obviously" won't go to the wedding. But she is angry about the costs the couple, who are pensioners, have faced.

'We are on small pensions'

Two PCR tests set them back £140, and they had spent £70 on lateral flow tests before the rules changed which can no longer be refunded.

"Boris doesn't realise that we are on small pensions, British pensions," Julie said. "We can't keep affording to do this and we need to keep in contact with our families in England.

"Simple people like us, with simple little lives, this is affecting. And these variants are going to keep on coming, we have to learn to live with them."

Image source, Zahn Nel

Image caption,

Zahn and Paul Nel

South Africa alerted the world last week about the Omicron variant of Covid. There are fears it may be more infectious than previous strains and less susceptible to vaccines.

South Africa-born Zahn Nel and her British husband Paul say they are also feeling stressed about UK's rule changes.

The couple, who live in Pretoria, had plans to visit Paul's parents in Bournemouth, on the south England coast. But they now fear they will almost certainly have to stay put instead of taking the flight in mid-December after South Africa was put on the UK's red list.

Zahn said: "We were so looking forward to spending Christmas with them in Bournemouth. We haven't seen them in two-and-a-half years. Last year Paul missed his dad's 90th birthday because of travel restrictions."

A planned visit last year had to be abandoned when global aviation was grounded at the height of the pandemic.

Zahn, 58, said that as a South African she does not qualify for the travel exemptions that would allow her to enter the UK.

'It's frustrating and unfair'

Paul, 60, could still visit, but there's the prospect of an expensive quarantine hotel on arrival. "It would be two months' salary," she said.

It's frustrating and unfair, said Zahn, because they feel they are Covid-secure.

"Face masks and social distancing are mandatory in public spaces in South Africa," she said. "Both of us have had two Pfizer vaccinations, although no boosters are currently available to us."

The UK government has promised to review the travel restrictions in three weeks, but Zahn and Paul thinks that even if the rules were lifted or relaxed it would be too late.

"We are listening to the latest information day-by-day but as the variant is spreading so fast I don't hold out much hope," she said.

More on this story

Read Entire Article