UKC

Roadmap to the Alps, summer 2021 edition

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 Stone Muppet 05 Jul 2021

I've been wondering (deep intake of breath) whether there's any likelihood of getting somewhere in the Alps in late August/early September. Or if not, we at least need a thread here to discuss how much it isn't happening!

There's talk of UK dropping requirement of self isolation for vaccinated travelers returning from France within the coming month (Delta variant pending... who knows really, but I'll note that the border was open for a good chunk of last summer before we even had any widespread tests or vaccines).

Conversely we're currently on France's amber list meaning you'd have to isolate on entry to France, and you're not allowed in unless for an essential trip anyway. No idea if/when this might change but I wouldn't be surprised if it stays vaguely reciprocal to what the UK does.

What about the other alpine countries - do we know if any are looking more promising?

And separately to the question of whether it's legal, is it sensible?

Post edited at 17:06
In reply to Stone Muppet:

> Conversely we're currently on France's amber list meaning you'd have to isolate on entry to France, and you're not allowed in unless for an essential trip anyway. No idea if/when this might change but I wouldn't be surprised if it stays vaguely reciprocal to what the UK does.

We've got a lot more Delta than they have, I assume, and are in the middle of running fairly hot through a third wave (of cases, if not hospitalisations or deaths at this point). I could plausibly see them deciding they don't want what we're carrying, if their vaccination programme is further behind.

In reply to Stone Muppet:

I believe the double vaccinated from the UK can now enter Switzerland and do not have to quarantine

 yorkshireman 05 Jul 2021
In reply to Suncream:

> I believe the double vaccinated from the UK can now enter Switzerland and do not have to quarantine

It's the same here in France. I think you need a negative PCR test as well. Yesterday on my run I saw Dutch, Belgian, German and Slovenian campers parked up but only seen one UK plate all year. Guessing that will change if July 19 means the return quarantine is lifted. 

 Misha 06 Jul 2021
In reply to Stone Muppet:

International travel doesn’t seem like a wise thing to be doing this year, rules or no rules. I’m going to enjoy British trad, as well as the money I’ll save by not going to the Alps. They aren’t going anywhere (well, bits might fall down but that’s par for the course).

 Sans-Plan 06 Jul 2021
In reply to Suncream:

> I believe the double vaccinated from the UK can now enter Switzerland and do not have to quarantine

That’s the plan but unfortunately they haven’t formalised it yet

 rexybo 06 Jul 2021
In reply to Sans-Plan:

It's been true since 26th June that double vaccinated Brits can enter Switzerland without a test or quarentining. An entry form must be filled in. There is a useful link for Swiss entry https://einreisecheck.admin.ch/home

 Stone Muppet 06 Jul 2021
In reply to Stone Muppet:

Germany's opened up too, and they have some alps albeit not particularly snowy ones.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-57730092

 Sans-Plan 06 Jul 2021
In reply to rexybo:

Well I was going by what the U.K. government are telling us so who knows.

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/switzerland/entry-requirements

From the above:

Demonstrating your vaccination status from the UK is not yet formalised for entry into Switzerland, so you should follow alternative advice for entry. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status

 rexybo 06 Jul 2021
In reply to Sans-Plan:

According to the website below it is possible to obtain a valid covid pass for travel by requesting it. Indeed, the appointment card is not valid.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-pass/get-your-covid-pass-letter/

"Use this service to get a letter showing your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination status.

You can use this letter if you're travelling abroad, or going to an event, and need proof you've had your COVID-19 vaccination."

 robhorton 09 Jul 2021
In reply to Stone Muppet:

I'm really tempted to drive to the French Alps for a week or so of walking and maybe some cragging / VFs after the announcement yesterday. On balance I probably won't though.

Getting a test and vaccination proof to get into France appears to be fairly straightforward.

I'm less clear about how to get a test to get back. It seems you can get them at some pharmacies but I could imaging it becoming quite a faff. The day 2 PCR test on return should be straightforward (but expensive).

There's obviously the risk of rules changing in the meantime - I wouldn't book anything that wasn't either refundable or I was prepared to write off so it wouldn't be the end of the world if I couldn't go. Having to quarantine at home on the return would be annoying but manageable. Having to quarantine in a hotel would be more of a problem but seems pretty unlikely. The biggest problem would be if the return test came back positive - no idea what you're supposed to do in that situation.

I'd also be concerned everywhere will be as busy as the UK.

And of course there's the whole question of "should I"...

On balance I'm probably going to give it a miss this year. I'd be interested to know if anyone is planning to go though. I'm really hoping things have settled down by the ski season.

 Will_he_fall 09 Jul 2021

You can get a PCR test in Chamonix at the hospital, costs 49 euros and comes back in half a day.

You can currently get into France and Switzerland without quarantine if you are fully vaccinated. 

5 day quarantine for brits entering Italy until the 29 July.

Huts and lifts open as usual. Some huts seem pretty keen on masks etc, others less so...

Hope this helps for planning trips.

 Pero 11 Jul 2021

Who has actually travelled out to the Alps from the UK this summer? 

In reply to Pero:

I too am wondering this  - does anyone have any tips of the test for returning if you're not staying near a large population center like Chamonix? I've no real understanding of how this works in practice.  I've still got ferry tickets for the Picos booked for a couple of weeks' time.  I will likely cancel but want to understand the options.  I saw some UK companies offer lateral flow tests that you can take in-country and send a photo to get 'official results - but this sounds well dodgy.  and my chances of navigating medical facilities in rural Spain are limited!

 VinnyW 12 Jul 2021
In reply to ebdon:

Prenetics provide a Rapid Antigen (Lateral flow kit) you can buy and take with you, the cheapest is about £26. When you are ready to return to the UK you take the test and upload the results via their website or an app (seems there may be issues with the app) and they assess it and provide a fit to fly doc within a few hours. I intend to use these for my trip back from France this year. I've had online chats with then to confirm they are suitable for what I intend to use them for and they confirmed they are approved for use. There are other firms offering the same but this was the cheapest I found.

 steve_gibbs 12 Jul 2021
In reply to Pero:

A friend and I flew out London to Turin a month ago, hired a car and been in Courmayeur/Chamonix since. Admittedly we got lucky flying in just before Italy introduced a quarantine, so it was just a £5.99 Ryanair flight (plus luggage) and a £32 Antigen test at Stansted airport just before the flight. We filled out the EU Passenger Locator Form online and some paper Italian covid form, but oddly no one checked any of it, at either Stansted or Turin, not even our Antigen test! No checks at the Mont Blanc tunnel either. It seems once you’re in the EU you can travel between countries without any checks, except perhaps Switzerland seems to be stricter, as imagine you’re more likely to be pulled over with GB than IT/FR plates. Regarding getting back, we plan to stay out the entire summer until an EU country goes green, then fly back from there, much the same as we did last summer. It appears coming to the Alps is feasible, you just have to find the easiest entry point and take it from there.

Post edited at 20:46
 robhorton 13 Jul 2021
In reply to ebdon:

For France there's a map of testing locations at https://www.sante.fr/cf/carte-depistage-covid.html - I don't know if there's anything similar for Spain. The lateral flow tests seem to be quite reliant on having a flat / level surface which might be tricky if camping.

One thing I'm trying to get to the bottom of is what happens if the test comes back positive? You'd obviously need to isolate in the country but a campsite isn't really going to be suitable and I've no idea how you'd go about finding somewhere willing to take you. Snowcard appear to cover accommodation costs in this situation (BMC appear not to) - I emailed them to ask if they would assist in finding somewhere suitable  and got a rather non-committal reply. France has a national covid "helpline" but I've no idea if they can help with that sort of thing and it would be rather stretching my French to explain the issue.

 yorkshireman 13 Jul 2021
In reply to robhorton:

> One thing I'm trying to get to the bottom of is what happens if the test comes back positive?... no idea how you'd go about finding somewhere willing to take you.

Macron has also just announced that they're extending the passé sanitaire, basically the certificate you download to your phone to prove you're double vaccinated, have a clear test or have recovered from Covid.

You will now need it to access accommodation and campsites, events, restaurants, bars, long distance trains, commercial centres and visitor attractions. I assume you can get one if you're not a French resident but not sure how you prove your UK vaccination status (I can't prove mine to the UK authorities at the moment so currently still can't come back without quarantine after the 19th).

Won't be much of a holiday with those restrictions if you can't get a PS. 

That said I saw my first UK plates driving locally (Vercors) at the weekend (including a dick doing 60 in a 30 zone, window of Range Rover down with loud music blaring out - its embarrassing enough being British in Europe at the moment so let's try not to make things worse). 

 robhorton 13 Jul 2021
In reply to yorkshireman:

I downloaded the TousAntiCovid app - impressed it works in English out the box - but it's not accepting an NHS vaccination certificate (yet?). Hopefully there will be mutual recognition before too long. It's looking like it might be more faff than it's worth for this summer - although I suspect it's something we'll have to get used to for a few years.

 yorkshireman 13 Jul 2021
In reply to robhorton:

> Hopefully there will be mutual recognition before too long. It's looking like it might be more faff than it's worth for this summer 

Yeah its looking like EU countries have got mutual recognition - my certificate after my second vaccine was an EU Covid pass with a QR code. I scanned it with Tous Anti Covid and it's saved in there and should work elsewhere. I need to go to Amsterdam for the day for work next week (never been so excited for a dull work trip! I used to travel internationally maybe 3 times a month before Covid and was fed up of it) so will find out how smoothly it operates across borders.

 VinnyW 13 Jul 2021
In reply to yorkshireman:

I'm in the UK (and UK resident) and I've just installed the TousAntiCovid app and tried to scan the QR code on my NHS Covid pass from my vaccination but it is saying it is the wrong format?? Is that because it is issued by the NHS and not compatible with the EU system?

I had my second vaccination on 19th May but only just printed it out today (so valid until 12th August) to scan with the TousAntiCovid app. so maybe its not compatible?

Any ideas

 cdpej 13 Jul 2021
In reply to VinnyW:

no you need a French QR code (and I think an Ameli account) to log your vaccine onto the French app.  The French announced today that the NHS app will be ok for the pass sanitaire that Macron announced last night.  

 cdpej 13 Jul 2021
In reply to VinnyW:

> Prenetics provide a Rapid Antigen (Lateral flow kit) you can buy and take with you, the cheapest is about £26. When you are ready to return to the UK you take the test and upload the results via their website or an app (seems there may be issues with the app) and they assess it and provide a fit to fly doc within a few hours. I intend to use these for my trip back from France this year. I've had online chats with then to confirm they are suitable for what I intend to use them for and they confirmed they are approved for use. There are other firms offering the same but this was the cheapest I found.

that's really useful info.  Lateral flow tests for travel back to the uk were free (and easy to do) in pharmacies over the winter here in France but they are about to start charging

 VinnyW 13 Jul 2021
In reply to cdpej:

Ah, I see, So I need to take my paper copy when I go to the Eurotunnel for them to check my vaccine status.

Will their scanners recognise the NHS vaccine pass or does the EU system currently not 'talk' to the UK system?

Im trying to get to France next week on the Eurotunnel. My wife and I have had both jabs (once of them the Indian produced batch) So trying to avoid being turned away at the border if my Vaccine status is not accepted or I have the wrong paperwork.

 VinnyW 13 Jul 2021
In reply to cdpej:

Having read some bad reviews on the Prenetics company I have since found another company c19testing.co.uk who do the same service but their online reviews seem to be better. £29 for rapid anti-gen testing kit.

 RyanA 14 Jul 2021
In reply to Stone Muppet:

Very helpful all. Good to see some conversations around international climbing. 

Around the start of the year, I had decided to 'hope' for greater success for Aconcagua in Argentina than the Alps this year (Plus the accrued annual leave this year helps for a much longer trip). Obviously south America is experiencing significant Covid issues at present. Does anyone have any thoughts/information etc on the possibility of a Jan 22 trip? I have spoken to some guiding companies that are confident it will be an amber country by then (from a UK perspective). Concern seems to be more over Argentina letting tourists in... and the fact that guiding companies will want to sell packages, so would be maybe more unconsciously biased. 

Nothing booked, just keeping fit and ready in case situations improve for the end of the year, but not holding out too much hope (welp).

Maybe I should have banked on the Alps!!

 cdpej 14 Jul 2021
In reply to VinnyW:

recent experience in the tunnel (by car UK to France) from friends is that the NHS app is fine.  But I am sure these things vary day by day

 chris bedford 14 Jul 2021

Me and the wife both had the Indian manufactured vaccine for the first jab (not the second) and are currently driving south from Calais. No problem at all at Dover, they wanted to see our test status (rapid antigen at Boots the previous afternoon) and our vaccine status. Paper copies seemed easier, we just handed them over. Quickest we’ve got through the port in a very long time. Not very comforting - to say the least - to see the news about the couple trying to get to Malta as we headed off, and I was convinced we’d get turned back at customs even before this news hit. But Dover-Calais ferry was fine. 

 VinnyW 14 Jul 2021
In reply to Tyler:

Looks Like this has been resolved in your favour according to the BBC website and Grants twitter page

 Pero 14 Jul 2021
In reply to chris bedford:

Thanks for posting this. Were the paper copies your vaccination card or a letter from your GP or something else?

 chris bedford 14 Jul 2021
In reply to Pero:

Vaccine status downloadable form the NHS app (NOT the same as the NHS Covid 19 app). It’s quite a hassle to set up in the first place with all the personal security needed but very easy to get the ‘NHS Covid pass’ once it’s done. Letter from GP probably ok. Vaccination card almost certainly not ok (too easy to forge). 

In reply to chris bedford:

>  Vaccination card almost certainly not ok (too easy to forge). 

I don't know of any jurisdiction accepting vax cards, they always want the proper paperwork.

 PeterBlackler 16 Jul 2021

Uh?

"Covid: Fully jabbed UK arrivals from France must still quarantine"

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57869880

In reply to PeterBlackler:

Personally if I were to go abroad I wouldn't do it unless I knew I could isolate when I get back.

I have seen a few reports of people bitching and moaning that things changed whilst they were away and they now have to isolate.

My sympathy is zero, you go you take your chances. 

 Misha 18 Jul 2021
In reply to Dax H:

Exactly. Also I just don’t get people’s desire to have a holiday abroad. Plenty of climbing to do in the UK. I’m taking this year as an opportunity to do stuff at home which I’ve not got round to doing previously due to usually being in the Alps. Had a great trip to Scotland back in late May / early June for example. Plus the Alpine conditions / weather have been crap anyway from what I’ve heard. 

 yorkshireman 18 Jul 2021
In reply to Misha:

> Exactly. Also I just don’t get people’s desire to have a holiday abroad. 

Holidays make a good story in the press but there's lots of people in different situations. I live in France and my mum in the UK has been diagnosed with moderate Alzheimers. I really want to pop across for a few long weekends to help my dad out who is at his wits end but quarantaine makes that impossible. 

> Plus the Alpine conditions / weather have been crap anyway from what I’ve heard. 

I'm in the Alps and can confirm the weather has been frankly atrocious.

Post edited at 18:39
 VinnyW 18 Jul 2021
In reply to yorkshireman:

I cant keep up with the speed the rules are changing for entry to France.

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france/entry-requirements

From reading this its good news that France now accept the AZ vaccine that was produced in India (me and the Missus both have one).

What baffles me is (if I am reading this correctly) that as a fully vaccinated adult I don't need to provide a negative test result when travelling from UK to France...

Am a reading this correctly?

I have 2 kids who are 11 and 13 - the page says:

Children who are travelling with a fully vaccinated adult will be exempt from requirements to present a negative test result, self-isolate and provide an essential reason for travel, regardless of whether the minor has been vaccinated or not. Children aged 12 years old or over who are unvaccinated and travelling alone are subject to the same conditions as adults.

So my kids don't need to do a test either (as they will not be travelling alone)??

 Toccata 18 Jul 2021
In reply to VinnyW:

We had a last minute change from Lyon and flew to Basel/Mulhouse. We drove through CH and into France without issue. Two weeks in Chamonix and we’ll return via Basel collecting a handful of receipts from a friend in Arlesheim in case there is an issue. I’ve been an ardent law abider throughout but Government has pushed trust beyond credibility.

 Misha 18 Jul 2021
In reply to yorkshireman:

My post was specifically in relation to holidays - I know there are people with personal circumstances such as yours who are caught up in all of this. Unfortunately I suspect it won’t be till next summer at the earliest that cross border travel will be back to more or less normal. 

 Pero 19 Jul 2021
In reply to VinnyW:

Somewhere along the line any semblance of policy being dictated by science has gone and we now have policy based on politics.

 Pero 21 Jul 2021

Has anyone tried to cross over from Chamonix into Switzerland? 

 yorkshireman 22 Jul 2021
In reply to Pero:

> Has anyone tried to cross over from Chamonix into Switzerland? 

Not yet, but I'm doing the UTMB next month which passes from Italy, to Swizterland then back to Chamonix and we need to have ID documents plus a mandatory health pass to cross, as do any accompanying friends/relatives. However France covid cases are rapidly increasing so things are changing by the day.

A bit less relevant to your request but I had to go from Lyon to Amsterdam and back yesterday. It was the first day of the French 'health pass' being made mandatory.

During online checkin I had to tick boxes to confirm I didn't have any symptoms (for the Dutch authorities) but no question of vaccination or health pass was on there. On the way out, there were no checks on my status, nobody asked to see any documentation and obviously it was a Schengen flight so straight off at AMS with no checks.

On the way back, no checks whatsoever (not even ID) going through security at Schipol or the gate (automatic boarding pass scan). We had to fill in passenger locator forms on the flight (paper - surely the airlinie has all my contact details already!), I guess in case the person sitting next to you gets a positive result and you need to be traced, and on landing passports were checked (but the French like to do that anyway certainly for the past few years). Again however, no request to see my vaccine status/health pass despite my British passport (although I have a French permanent residency card which might have helped).

So quite hassle free in general but equally a bit worrying considering the recent huge rise in cases in both UK and France.

Other observations: it was a work trip and an exception that couldn't really be avoided or delayed any longer but my first flight since the start of Covid and it was weird (I used to travel most weeks pre-covid). Wearing a mask all day long was a pain (especially with a beard in the summer) but a small price to pay.

I picked emergency exit seats where there is a missing seat by the door to try to minimise close contact, but even so you realise how cramped a 3:3 airline is. Equally, passengers are idiots and the whole concept of social distancing was a joke, both in seats and in line - you would think that a flight full of masks would remind people what was going on but the presence of a pandemic hasn't led to any improvement in boarding etiquette.

 chris bedford 24 Jul 2021
In reply to Pero:

> Has anyone tried to cross over from Chamonix into Switzerland? 

No different to any other year via the col de Forclaz, ie. no one at the Swiss border. Italy via the Mont Blanc tunnel also same as ever - they wouldn’t be able to operate in the normal way if they had to check everyone’s vaccine / test status. And I guess if they see any UK cars they assume we must be all clear to get into France in the first place.

Coming back through the MtB tunnel this morning they did actually stop us to ask for passports (not too unusual) and asked about our vacc status. Showed them printouts of our NHS Covid pass, as well as our test status - the latter they told us wasn’t needed as we had evidence of our double jab. It was a quiet time of day for the tunnel, I think less likely to check if busier. PS Torino hut fairly busy, masks compulsory (as they should be....) but otherwise not much evidence of restrictions in place. Pretty relaxed, as in any year....

 robhorton 16:04 Tue

Apparently the (English only?) NHS vaccine QR codes are now accepted into the TousAntiCovid app: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france/coronavirus - I tried it with the one I generated last week and it didn't work so guess it needs to be a recent pass. I lost interest at that point

Current update from out here:

Crossing between borders France/Italy/Switzerland  haven't been stopped once in the last six months, have been doing so regularly in a French-plated car.

Lifts and huts running as normal. Aiguille du midi bin is predictably rammed, if that concerns you. At some huts there is loose mask wearing, at others mask use seems to have more or less stopped.

Snowiest summer since 2014.

Off to the alps on Friday with the wife and little one. We're booked on euro tunnel and have both been fully jabbed (little one is 7 months). As far as I can make out, all we need to do now is show proof of vaccination status (NHS App) to get into France. No locator form or anything....?

Any know if that's correct?


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