What The Covid Travel Restrictions Mean For Kids And Family Holidays

Portugal, Malta and others now want evidence of vaccinations. Here’s what it means for your family holiday.

A growing number of European holiday destinations are introducing tougher restrictions for Brits, including quarantine on arrival for those who haven’t been double jabbed. But what does it mean if you’re travelling with children?

While some countries have started vaccinating children, under 18s aren’t currently offered the vaccine in the UK, meaning summer holiday plans are once again in jeopardy.

Here’s what you need to know before booking a flight with your kids.

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Before you leave England

Before you leave England, check the entry requirements for the country you’re heading to, plus pre-book a quarantine package and any tests you’ll need to take when you arrive home.

The quarantine requirements for children arriving in England are the same as adults. For example, children returning from a red country must stay in a quarantine hotel (with their parents/guardian); those returning from an amber country must self-isolate at home for 10 days (or five days if you pay for an extra test, via the Test to Release system); and those returning from a green country do not need to isolate.

The testing requirements on return to England vary with age.

  • Test before travel back to England (all countries) – children aged 10 and under do not need to take a test.

  • Day two and day eight tests after arrival in England (amber and red countries) – children aged four and under do not need to take a test.

  • Test to Release (available to end quarantine early from amber countries) – children of all ages must take the test if adults in the household want to take part in the Test to Release scheme.

The guidance differs slightly for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, so be sure to check before you travel if you live in another part of the UK.

Arriving at your holiday destination

The traffic light system is not reciprocal, so it’s really important to check the entry requirements before you travel.

Some countries have introduced a quarantine for UK travellers, for example, and other countries require a series of tests on entry for both adults and kids.

Take Portugal, which is on the UK’s amber list, as an example. Portugal recently updated its rules to say all adults and children over the age of 12 must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test to travel to or through Portugal.

If you’ve travelled from the UK to mainland Portugal, you must also quarantine for 14 days in the place you’re staying – or at a place indicated by the Portuguese health authority – unless you can prove you’ve been double jabbed with an EU approved Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to travel.

The Portuguese tourist board confirmed to HuffPost UK “children under the age of 12 do not need to quarantine or show a negative test or proof of vaccination”. It means that those travelling with teens – who are not exempt from quarantine but can not yet get a vaccine in the UK – can’t now holiday in Portugal.

Malta also updated its rules. From June 30, you can only enter Malta if you’re double-vaccinated. Children under 12 will be permitted to enter the country if they’re holidaying with parents who have been double jabbed. Although exempt from quarantine, those aged between five and 11 must also show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours before arrival.

Iceland’s entry requirements say adults can enter without quarantine if they’ve been double jabbed. Kids are exempt if they were born in 2005 or later. Families will have to take a Covid test at the border, though, and wait for results in a room (delivered within 24 hours). If a test comes back positive, you’ll then need to self-isolate.

The Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza are another popular option for families this summer, as they recently moved to the UK’s green list. However, the Spanish government announced all visitors to the Spanish islands must present evidence of double vaccination or a negative coronavirus test.

Children under 12 are “not required to present these certificates or supporting documents”. If you’re travelling with kids aged 13-18 years old, they can enter the country as long as they can demonstrate a negative test.