Since late November 2021 heightened testing requirements have applied to unvaccinated and fully vaccinated travellers alike upon returning to the United Kingdom from abroad. This includes a mandatory PCR test on day 2 after arrival.
I am of course not planning on going anywhere near one of those vile needles, but as an unvaccinated traveller I have a bone to pick with the Government regarding the testing required for the jabbed. I could look over smugly at the vaccinated as now being back in the same boat as us filthy reprobates – having to fork out another couple of hundred quid and book into some ghastly test centre – what quite was the point of letting themselves be injected with an experimental substance currently causing 20-year-old footballers to drop like flies? But besides the most irritating fact that this is further lining the pockets of the privately run, Government-licensed test centres, it’s making PCR tests virtually impossible to get and so set in stone you can’t reschedule one to save your life. Not to mention the supply of NHS lateral flow tests needed to get into events these days have all but dried up and are now scarcer than that hair cream used by Kate Middleton’s stylist who, after touting it last summer, caused a run on all the UK stores and depletion of factory stocks. (This is but the tip of the iceberg of the dodgy test scam designed for one thing only, which is to keep us locked into a ‘casedemic’, as Mike Yeadon had the foresight to point out here.)
Anyway this testing malarkey is the lowest priority on my ‘things to do’ list, just after scrubbing the toilet bowl and hoovering under the bed. Consider the hassle and hoop-jumping on the UK side to be able to visit Cancun – a sun-soaked paradise and one of the only places left on the planet where Covid papers aren’t required – the Mexican immigration authorities just wave you in with a self-certification. I’ve created a website called www.travelunvaxed.co.uk with a few like-minded friends. Check it out if you want to see some lovely photos and read fun travel stories written by unvaccinated globetrotters.
The whole convoluted process of filling out forms, booking and rescheduling the various tests to be able to return to my own country from a holiday abroad was so painful, full of stress and aggravation that it sapped the joy out of several afternoons and mornings when I could have been soaking up rays or swimming in the pool. There was the video appointment with a doctor that had to be carried out with one test provider (presumably to ensure that I wasn’t cheating by swabbing the nostrils of a stray cat). Of course the video link didn’t work, and as I sat in my room with the sun streaming through the window and the beach beckoning all I could do was hang on the line waiting desperately for the clinician to appear. Said appointment had to be rescheduled three times, after technical difficulties and following concerns raised by one clinician that a lateral flow test was no longer acceptable, which resulted in a panicked search online to confirm by the most reliable source available (Forbes magazine) that an LFT would be fine but only within 48 hours of departure. I shudder to think how, had my flight been delayed much longer than it was, the 48-hour window would have closed and my LFT invalidated. This actually happened to someone I know who was barred from boarding a plane after her flight was delayed to beyond the window.
I also know from previous post-holiday PCR experiences that the test providers rat you out to the Covid marshals the second you leave their drab encampments (which are inevitably strategically placed at the site of a former artisanal wine store or pop-up eyebrow bar). The last time I went for a Day 2 test, when I got back home the marshal promptly knocked on my door and asked to check my papers, as if he had followed me back from the test centre. In a race against time to get back home after your test, you nip into the Tesco for some milk and toothpaste, or to the Korean takeaway for a hot meal in terror mode at the prospect of another eight days in isolation limited to basic microwave cooking skills, to be broken only by your Day 8 PCR experience.
The inside front page of my British passport says: ‘Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.’ What those words mean is that it is a fundamental violation of the terms of my citizenship to prevent or block me from travelling to the United Kingdom. The airlines should be ashamed for agreeing do the dirty work checking such ridiculous conditions of entry as tests, forms and QR codes for British nationals to return to their own country.
Every day I pass one of those test centres, with the queues similar to Soviet bread lines and gaunt, exhausted faces of the lonely peering over their masks from a window while they wait for a swab to gag them and be rammed up their nostrils, I think that the world would be an infinitely better place if such eyesore facilities were bulldozed and replaced with a chain of wine and beauty bars for the unmanicured, unvaccinated masses. At the very least everyone would be happier and saner.