They may have oily, sulky, selfish skin on and off. But the way some countries treat our teenagers seems rather unfair.
With the UK dropping testing requirements from February 11, now is the time to start looking at our holiday options for the year ahead. But while painting the rules, families with young teenagers will notice that there are glaring omissions in their viable holiday map, with our favorite holiday destinations of France, Spain and Italy making things impossible or very difficult for unscrupulous teenagers.
Take Spain, Britain’s favorite holiday destination. It currently classifies Britain as ‘high risk‘, meaning people aged 12 and over can only enter the country if fully vaccinated (two doses; or including a booster if more than 270 days since last dose), with no acceptable alternatives, such as a negative PCR test result or proof of recovery, as allowed in many countries.
The problem with this is that only 12% (around 300,000) of Britons aged 12-15 have been shot twice, which means that currently 2.5 million teenagers (and their families) are effectively excluded from the ‘Spain. Not ideal, with a semester only a few weeks away. And it should be remembered that many of these teenagers will want to be vaccinated but will not be able to; the government advises waiting 28 days after contracting Covid-19 to get a dose, and many in this age group will have tested positive during the omicron wave.
Italy too. They are slightly more generous than Spain, in that they will let under-18s in without proof of vaccination, provided they pass a PCR test before entry. But unless you plan on staying in a villa for your entire trip or visiting friends, there’s no point in dragging your beloved teenagers there. If you are 12+ and not fully vaccinated, you will not be able to get your hands on the Super Green Pass. This means that, while you enjoy your bowl of puttanesca over a glass of pinot grigio, your precious little ones will have to hide in the parking lot of the restaurant. Similarly, family skiing is not an option in Italy unless you are all bitten.
As for France, you will be able to bring in unvaccinated teenagers with a negative test result, but 12-15 year olds will have to take daily antigen tests (carried out by a professional) to activate their “sanitary pass”. , and anyone aged 16 and over will only have a valid “vaccination pass” showing that they are double vaccinated or boosted, if the second vaccination was not more than seven months ago. Without these documents, you cannot access ski lifts, enter cafes, restaurants and museums, stay in many hotels or travel by long-distance train.
So where does this leave us? If you’re looking for European sun, sea and sand, you’ll have to look to the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, where the countries are more welcoming to British families.
In Turkey, for example, unvaccinated teenagers are allowed to enter with a negative Covid-19 test result and will be able to enter restaurants and bars without a Covid pass. Egypt accepts a negative test instead of a full vaccination for those aged six and over, and also does not have a pass system for visiting inland sites. Greece too will welcome your children with a test, although unvaccinated minors between the ages of 4 and 18 will have to take a test every 48 hours to enter the establishments covered, which is not ideal but more generous than the 24 hours required in France.
There are many other countries that will welcome your unvaccinated youngsters. Mexico and Costa Rica will do so without the requirement of a negative Covid test prior to arrival, making it one of the most family-friendly destinations in the world right now (and some nice mid-range options). course, if you’re in the market for a last-minute getaway). Closer to home, Switzerland has just eased its restrictions on UK arrivals, meaning children under 16 can enter without any testing as long as they are accompanied by a vaccinated adult.
We’ve been in the tooth long enough with all these testing regulations to know that things can and will change at any time. Fast forward a month and France, Italy and Spain could well roll out the red carpet for our dear British teenagers. Otherwise, their respective tourist boards are sure to lobby their tourism ministers to make things easier for British families by Easter or risk another deadly holiday season.
But for now, as February’s midterm approaches, our three favorite vacation destinations are off the travel map for millions of families with unvaccinated teens. If that’s not something to shun, I don’t know what is.