COVID-19 test stress before my Cyprus holiday: TPG reader mistake story

Sep 27, 2020

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We’ve been asking to hear your travel success and mistake stories to both celebrate and help our TPG U.K. community — even if you’re not travelling as much right now.

This week, Jane showed how complex a simple beach holiday to Europe has become in the age of COVID-19.

“My husband and I had been desperate for a beach holiday this summer after so many months of lockdown. When the government announced the travel corridors, we started looking at options, and following along with the current COVID-19 rates for different countries. We were impressed with Cyprus’ approach, having some of the lowest numbers in Europe.

We figured this was a reasonably safe bet for a holiday because it seemed unlikely they would be added to the quarantine last without warning, like what happened with Spain.

Cyprus requires a negative COVID-19 test in order to board a flight there, which needs to be taken less than 72 hours before your flight. We were happy to have the test done, but what we didn’t realise is the 72-hour timeframe would cause us so much stress. I know that the NHS provides free COVID-19 tests, but we didn’t want to take a test spot from someone who might actually be sick just to get a piece of paper for a holiday. So we ruled that out.

You can order home testing kits, but we read online that these would not be accepted for entry into Cyprus. This was because there was uncertainty around when the test was actually taken, given it is not administered by a medical professional. So that was also ruled out.

So we searched for a private testing facility in our region and were happy to pay for it. The problem was we really struggled to find one — we probably started searching too late, which was a mistake. It seemed like lots of other people had the same ideas as us to get tested (whether it was for a holiday or they were sick). We had a very limited window to even be tested. Too early and it wouldn’t be accepted because it was more than 72 hours in advance. Too close to the flight and we risked not receiving the results in time to board the flight.

We ended up having to take half a day off work (before our holiday even began) to drive over an hour each way to get the test done at the only place we could secure an appointment. It wasn’t ideal (or cheap), but at least we had the test done properly in the timeframe and we were allowed to board our flight without issue.

Overall, it caused a lot of stress just to have a holiday. In hindsight, we probably should have chosen somewhere in Greece that didn’t require quarantine instead, because you don’t have to be tested before the flight there. 

We ended up having a lovely break in Cyprus — it was so nice to be able to travel again. I hope next summer this virus is a distant memory and we can travel without all this stress again!”

Related: All 66 countries, territories and regions that are on the UK’s travel corridor list

Cyprus has seen consistently low rates of new COVID-19 infections, partly because of its strict entry requirements. If you can organise a test easily, this could be a logical choice for a break right now — the country enjoys a very long summer period due to its southern location.

Just be aware of the entry requirements and plan things like booking a COVID-19 test well in advance if you are going to travel.

Featured image by Oleg_P via Shutterstock

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