Tried and tested: Taking a last-minute trip to a green list country

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Tried and tested: Taking a last-minute trip to a green list country

Luke Smyth of Flight Centre Travel Group

Name: Luke Smyth

Title: Safe Return to Travel Owner

Mission: It’s Wednesday 19th May, in the afternoon. We need you to travel to Faro, Portugal tomorrow morning, stay the night and return home Friday. Report back on what you have experienced. We are especially interested in COVID related measures such as testing and passenger locator forms.  

Need to know: To arrive in Portugal you will need a negative COVID PCR test and to fill in a passenger locator form (most countries require one).

When you return to the UK:

  • Portugal is on the UK’s green list of countries (at time of writing), which means you don’t have to quarantine.
  • You need to fill out a passenger locator form anytime 48 hours before you come back to the UK. This can be filled out online.
  • You’ll also have to take a COVID PCR test on or before day two of arriving in the UK.
Outdoor COVID testing facility at London's Southwark Cathedral - a truck and entrance are shown while a man stands at the window to be tested

Luke’s Report

 

London, Wednesday 19th May, 1400hrs: Due to the last-minute nature of the trip I needed to do an in-clinic COVID PCR test in time to check in at London Heathrow (LHR). This is sometimes referred to as ‘Fit to Fly’.

I was out of luck with appointments at the nearest clinics to my house, so travelled across London to the DocTAP/Randox mobile van outside Southwark Cathedral. Here, I managed to book a test slot with a three-hour result turnaround.

The mouth swab was quick and easy. I headed home to wait for the result. Thankfully all was well and two hours later I was armed with an email showing my negative result.

At home I completed a passenger locator form for arriving in Portugal with my hotel details. Best to get these things done in advance. I filled out the UK one for coming home too, as my trip was so short.

I also arranged the required ‘Day 2’ COVID-19 PCR testing for when I return home. It is important that this must be booked prior to returning to the UK, as the booking details are needed for the passenger locator form to re-enter the UK. I booked mine with Randox using our exclusive FCTG2021 code which offers a 50% discount.

 

Heathrow Airport, Thursday 20th May, 0800hrs: Heathrow is quieter than usual but there are still plenty of people checking in. The shops and cafes were all open, and there were plenty of happy faces among the many hand sanitiser points. I chatted to a few people who were very excited to be heading away for some sunshine - the consensus was that the extra requirements needed for travel are certainly worth it.

At check-in my test certificate was examined and given the all clear. While I was conscious of the trees, for now I suggest printing out testing documents as well as having e-copies, to avoid panic over phone battery issues or poor internet connection.

Faro, Thursday 20th May, 1200hrs: Arrival is swift and easy. Passenger locator forms were handed out on my British Airways flight, but I was glad I’d got mine sorted before.

Arrived at hotel. All expected cleaning measures in place. The hotel proudly displayed certificates from the Turismo de Portugal saying “You’re safe with us. Take a deep breath and enjoy”. So I did exactly that, heading out for dinner.

 

Faro Airport, Friday 21st May, 1000hrs: Check-in was equally as smooth as Heathrow. After they verified my negative COVID-19 PCR result (the same result obtained in the UK with my ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate) as well as my passenger locator form for the UK, I headed to departures.

Note: I did not need to undergo a COVID-19 lateral flow test while in Portugal and prior to my return to the UK as my trip was so short. With trips of three days or less it can be avoided by using the ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate obtained in London prior to departure from the UK. For longer trips you would need to take a test in Portugal to come back to the UK.

The flight was quiet for a Friday evening back to London, and passport control at Heathrow was straight forward with none of the horrific queues I had heard of.

 

Home, Friday 21st May, 1500hrs: My testing package from Randox was waiting for me when I arrived home. I must take this test on or before day two of arriving back in the UK.

I opened the box and self-administered the test as directed, before sealing it according to the instructions provided. There are instructional videos on Randox’s website for all their COVID-19 tests.

Randox have a number of drop boxes UK wide, but also partner with DX meaning their drop boxes can be used. Check the drop box opening times on their website as they vary and you’ll need to send it off as soon as possible. Alternatively, a private courier equipped to deliver biological samples can be arranged, but that’s an extra cost.

Mission complete

Despite the current travel restrictions in place, I’ve been left incredibly optimistic about the state of post-pandemic travel and the relaxation of measures, particularly across Europe.

With vaccine apps and passports in development, things are only going to keep getting better. In the meantime, we’re seeing COVID-19 testing prices continue to fall, meaning that I do not expect them to be prohibitive to the vast majority of travellers.

Questions about your return to travel plans? Let's talk

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