Families booked on Canary Islands holidays face having to pay hundreds of pounds for coronavirus tests – with Christmas visitors uncertain about getting the necessary documentation.
From 23 November, the Spanish health ministry has decreed that holidaymakers from the UK must arrive with proof of a negative result from a test taken in the previous 72 hours.
The only acceptable certificate is for a PCR test – the “gold standard” of testing, as used by the NHS. While Heathrow has a testing centre in both active terminals, with results within an hour, they are not acceptable to the Spanish authorities.
Tests must be sourced privately, which costs upwards of £125; clinics that offer a doctor-led approach and faster turnarounds can cost significantly more.
While residents of England and Wales are currently banned from holidays abroad, that rule is expected to be relaxed from 3 December. Tens of thousands of people have booked trips over Christmas and the New Year – when the series of public holidays make testing uncertain.
Sarah Partington, who was booked to travel to Lanzarote on 27 December, tweeted: “As nothing says Xmas like a Xmas Eve Covid test at £450 (three people) with no guarantee of results back on Boxing Day, have cancelled again.
“Anticipation of travel is as exciting as the travel itself. It’s all gone.”
Another holidaymaker contacted The Independent to says she is due to fly to Tenerife on Boxing Day. “This would mean taking a test on evening of Thursday 23 December, with no hope of receiving results prior to going on holiday. It will surely be the same for anyone flying on 26, 27, 28 and 29 December.