All Travellers on Podge's Belgian Beer Tours will now need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least two weeks before the departure date of their Tour. This is partly to ensure that people can be reassured that their fellow travellers are vaccinated, but also because at least for now international travel without being vaccinated is impractical, at least in a group.
From Monday 4 October travellers returning from Belgium and France to the UK no longer need to take a PCR test before re-entering the UK.
There are also further scheduled changes to be announced by the UK Government from late October (no firm date set yet) downgrading the two-day post-return test from the current PCR laboratory test to the cheaper and easier non-laboratory lateral flow test.
From 22 September 2021 the Belgian Government announced a small but important change to their entry testing for red countries. UK vaccinated travellers no longer need to quarantine on entering Belgium. Instead of travelling across the Belgian border and being forced to get a PCR laboratory test there and waiting in quarantine in the hotel for the result, which could be 24 hours, we can now get a PCR test done in the UK up to 72 hours before arriving in Belgium. The Belgian authorities are now stating that for fully vaccinated travellers from red countries outside the EU they will accept a negative PCR test taken in the traveller’s own country not more than 72 hours before crossing the Belgian border. This change to Belgian inbound requirements for Red countries (we have some US travellers booked on our Tours) enables us to get a PCR test booked in, carried out in our local area, results uploaded to our mobile phones and ready to show in Belgium to the authorities should they ask for it when we are there, within the 3 day time period prescribed.
Our carrier is Le Shuttle, with whom we take our 49-seater coach through the Channel Tunnel to France, then onward to Belgium. Their website sets out clearly their requirements which are aligned with the UK and French Covid travel regulations. They set out what documentation needs to be presented to them to comply with those regulations for travel between UK and France which are broadly as follows:
1. API Advance Passenger Information.
2. Proof Of Covid Status/Vaccination.
3. Sworn/Signed Form that you are not Suffering from Covid Symptoms.
1. Passenger Locator Form, to be completed by each traveller.
2. Results of Negative PCR Covid Test, as referred to above. This will not be inspected by belgian authorities on the French/Belgian border as there are no Border controls, but it it producible on demand in Belgium, and they will know we are there from our Passenger Locator Forms!
1. Passenger Locator Form, to be completed by each traveller.
2. A "Day 2" COVID Test pack after your return to the UK. This is because UK regulations state that all fully vaccinated passengers must take a COVID-19 test on or before the second day after their return to the UK. A "test pack" must be booked and paid for in advance for each passenger before you begin your journey back to the UK. The unique reference number of the test pack must be specified on the Passenger Locator Form. This is likely to be downgraded from a laboratory PCR to a non-lab Lateral flow test in late October 2021.
Some of the following may seem obvious, but other items may not be so. Travellers need to consider the following before travelling abroad in any event and in particular on a Podge’s Belgian Beer Tour:
You must have travel insurance to join a Podge’s Belgian Beer Tour, taken out before you book a Tour in case you need to cancel at short notice. Our cancellation policy is set out on our Terms & Conditions page.
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused insurers to amend their policy cover to now exclusion many Coronavirus scenarios, so you need to know what your policy covers and what it does not. If you are unsure please call your insurer. In very general terms it is likely that your policy would cover you for medical expenses, medical repatriation costs and certain other expenses incurred only if you actually contract Coronavirus abroad, have a positive test and a medical diagnosis. You may also be covered for the extra costs of extending your stay as a result of contracting Coronavirus whilst away, but these could have an upper limit. You need to know what yours is.
Travellers need to be aware that UK and foreign government can impose onerous and draconian restrictions on travel at any time and without notice which could affect your holiday. In some countries borders may close or you may be required to self-isolate for a set period, even if you do not have symptoms.
From what I can ascertain, pretty much everything else connected with Coronavirus and holidays is likely to be excluded on your travel policy. What sort of things might these be? Well, possible scenarios not covered by your travel insurance may be:
• If UK government restrictions on travel are removed but are later reinstated and prevent you from travelling close to the date of departure.
• If the area where you live in the UK or where you are departing from is locked down.
• If the UK government introduces compulsory quarantine for travellers coming back from your holiday location and you no longer want to travel.
• If you arrive at your destination to find all UK nationals are required to quarantine on arrival and you wish to cut your trip short.
• If the area you are staying in on holiday is locked down by the local government
• If there is a spike in local cases when you are on holiday and you wish to cut short your holiday.
• If you are required to quarantine in your hotel room by a local government or a public health official, even if you have no symptoms. For example if another guest in your hotel tests positive for Coronavirus or if the Belgian Track & Trace authorities give an instruction for travellers to quarantine in their hotel room. If you are required to go into quarantine whilst you are abroad, you may be covered provided there is no Coronavirus exclusion in your policy. Your insurer may consider additional travel expenses at the end of the quarantined period to allow you to return home.
I would also add on a personal note that I am looking forward to when I can take travellers to Belgium again, and always have in mind what Podge used to say, "We'll get there..."
Podge's favourite, Westmalle Triple and its little sister.