Family holiday to Spain cancelled due to moving goalposts on Covid test requirements: Catherine Scott

This week I was supposed to be on a plane with my 16-year-old heading off for a short break to Mallorca.

Representatives of tour operator TUI provide information to British tourists at the airport in Palma de Mallorca on July 27, 2020. (Photo by JAIME REINA/AFP via Getty Images)

I did the same for her older sister after GCSEs but oh how the world has changed in those two years.

Having had to cancel a family holiday to Palma last year I decided to use the hotel voucher to take my youngest for a much needed break. I have to say as the time came nearer for the trip and most European holiday destinations were still amber, I was prepared and rather expected the flights to be cancelled.

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But then Boris announced that the Balearics, along with a handful of other destinations were being put on the green list. I have to say I had mixed feelings. I had prepared myself and my daughter for the trip to be cancelled, but also I wasn’t sure I was quite ready to travel. But moving the flights proved difficult as, expectedly, flights in the school holidays have gone through the roof especially next year.

After some chats were decided to go ahead. I am double jabbed and although it would mean organising a Covid test in Mallorca and PCR tests on day two of our return, we decided it was worth it.

However, last week, Spain announced that anyone from the UK who wasn’t double vaccinated would have to have a Covid test 48 hours before arriving in Spain from midnight on July 2.

I did some research and it was possible to get a lateral flow test turned around quickly without too much expense. Although the NHS ones – of which we have a pile at home – can’t be used. I have no idea why. Any way, just as we thought the trip was back on further confusion arose.

Some Spanish authorities were saying that the lateral flow or Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) – was no longer acceptable. However the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office was still stating you could have a RAT or a PCR to get into Spain – although by the end of the day that had changed.

Getting a PCR test that isn’t NHS isn’t that easy in the north and even if you can get them they are expensive and can take up to 48 hours for the results to come through – not great if they are positive and already on your way to the airport. To complicate matters even further it turned out that the first of my Covid jabs is one of the batches that some European countries are refusing to recognise.

After a lot of soul searching we decided to cancel the trip and go for a few days in London instead. For three days away on what was supposed to be a break it was getting far to complicated and far too many contradictions.

I understand that countries want to be very careful as they open up but there needs to consistency and clarity if they want UK tourists to return.

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