Many fully vaccinated travellers could lose their right to visit Austria and Croatia as early as October this year as the countries confirm an ‘expiry date’ on vaccination statuses.
The new travel rules would mean that holidaymakers are only considered immune for 270 days after a second jab (approximately nine months). Croatia and Austria are currently on the UK’s green list for re-entering the UK, making them popular destination options for those hoping to travel abroad with limited restrictions. With an expiry date now set, travellers may face disruption and cancelled plans. No other EU countries have yet set a deadline of this type for travellers.
The UK government has not announced plans of a ‘booster jab’ roll-out. This means that, currently, travellers double-vaccinated in or before March 2021 could lose their right to visit the destinations as early as November 2021. Those who received their second dose in July would only be permitted to travel to Croatia and Austria until March 2022.
Previously, the only rules surrounding validity of double-vaccination status were concerning the type of vaccine received and a necessary 14-day window between a second dose and the date of travel. These new rules come amid fears of diminishing immunity following vaccinations.
Austria will accept a negative Covid-19 test or proof of recent recovery but still requires self-isolation on arrival for five to 10 days.
Croatia will also accept a certificate of recent recovery if travellers received one dose of a valid vaccine within eight months months of contracting Covid, but the 270-day rule still applies for the first jab. Alternatively, Croatia will allow travellers whose vaccine has ‘expired’ to take a PCR test on arrival, with a requirement to self-isolate until travellers are able to prove a negative PCR result.
I planned to travel to Austria or Croatia – what should I do?
If you have booked a holiday for autumn or winter to these destinations, it’s worth checking the validity of your vaccine against your travel dates by counting 270 days from your second jab (Google can help with this: if you search ‘270 days from 18 August 2021’, say, it comes up with 15 May 2022) to determine whether your immunity ‘expires’ before or during your planned trip.
If your trip is at risk, check your travel insurance policy to find out whether you’re covered, although this new development is unlikely to have been accounted for in previous policies. You can also check the terms and conditions of your tour operator and/or airline. Some providers with flexible booking policies may have a clause which accounts for Covid-related disruption, meaning you could request a refund or the opportunity to rebook your trip elsewhere, or to a different date.
The news adds yet another consideration for those hoping to travel abroad this year, with holidaymakers already dealing with the hassle of Covid passports, testing requirements and the government’s traffic light list.
If you’re feeling bewildered, Which? has put together a holiday checklist to help ensure you’re prepared for your trip and a Covid-19 test FAQ to help you understand the tests you’ll need to safeguard your holiday plans.