Do you need to isolate if you test positive for COVID while you are on your summer holiday this year? And if so, for how long?
We’ve all seen the news regarding the airport crisis this year. What happens if you manage to negotiate the queues and get away with your family this summer and then catch COVID while you are abroad? Can you carry on your holiday as usual and come home on your original flight, or do you have to self-isolate?
Well, it depends. Each country has its own COVID rules. As the number of COVID cases is changing daily, it is a good idea to check the FCDO Foreign Travel Advice page for the country you intend to travel to.
What do I need to keep in mind before I travel?
Before you travel, there are certain things you need to keep in mind:
- Travel Insurance – It is essential to have travel insurance in place before you set off – from the day you book your holiday if possible. This is to give you peace of mind that you will be covered if you have to deal with a health-related issue before your trip or during it.
- EHIC or GHIC card – An EHIC (Europen Health Insurance Card) or its replacement, the GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card), entitle UK residents to access state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or for free.
Let’s take a closer look at the current rules for some popular holiday destinations if you do happen to catch COVID-19 whilst you are there:
The rules in France for those who have tested positive for COVID vary depending on whether you are vaccinated or not.
If you are vaccinated, you must self-isolate for seven days from the day you developed COVID symptoms or from the date of your positive COVID test result. You can reduce the time you need to self-isolate to five days if you take a PCR or antigen test on day five and it comes back as negative, AND you haven’t had any symptoms for the previous 48 hours. These rules also apply to children under 12, whether vaccinated or not.
If you are not vaccinated, you must self-isolate for ten days from the day you developed COVID symptoms or from the date of your positive COVID test result. You can reduce the time you need to self-isolate to seven days if you take a PCR or antigen test on day seven and it comes back negative, AND you haven’t had any symptoms for the previous 48 hours.
If the self-isolation period is more extended than your holiday, you will need to extend your stay in France to cover it, preferably in your current accommodation. The French government will not provide or pay for any quarantine accommodation.
If you test positive for COVID while you are on holiday in Greece, then you must self-isolate for five days from the positive test result date. You can end your isolation after only five days if you have not had a fever in the previous 24 hours. If this is not the case, then you should extend your self-isolation.
However, there is an exception for tourists leaving Greece to return home. If you are travelling back to your country of origin, you can leave self-isolation before the end of the five days – provided you don’t have a fever and wear a mask.
If you test positive for COVID-19 while on holiday in Italy, you need to self-isolate immediately and call the relevant regional COVID-19 telephone information hotline. Depending on what they decide, you may either:
- Stay in your existing accommodation
- Transfer to a state hospital
- Transfer to other government-provided accommodation
You may be required to fund the alternative accommodation provided for you. You should be prepared that you may be spread across different locations if you are a large group travelling together.
If you have completed an entire course of vaccination or a booster in the 120 days before you test positive for COVID, you must self-isolate for seven days. If this is not the case, you must self-isolate for ten days.
Wherever you are in Portugal, you will have to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19.
If you are on mainland Portugal, you must self-isolate for seven days at your own expense.
If you are in the Azores, Madeira or Porto Santo, you must self-isolate for five days at your own expense.
You are not required to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID during your stay in Spain. Still, you should inform anyone you have been in contact with and take the following preventive measures for ten days from when the symptoms began (or when you tested positive):
- avoid contact with people at high risk
- reduce social interactions and prevent significant events and crowded spaces
- wear a mask