Expat Focus International Healthcare Update May 2021

The UK is on the point of opening up again for foreign travel after the latest lockdown, with 17th May being the due date on the government’s road map for a number of sectors. The UK authorities have been drawing up a green list of countries to which British citizens may travel, and you can check the ‘traffic light’ system on the government website.

Due to the changing nature of Covid-19, some countries will be moving up and down the list – Turkey and the Maldives, for example, have recently moved from the amber list to the red list, whereas Singapore has moved from the amber list to the green list. So, if you’re hoping to travel, keep an eye on these changing restrictions.

There have already been concerns, in mid-May, about flights from the UK to Faro. Portugal has now started welcoming tourists from the UK. Passengers were said to have cheered as the first EasyJet flight’s doors closed, but ITV reported that everyone on board had a negative Covid-19 test certificate, as well as a Portuguese passenger locator form. If you are one of the 5000+ Brits expected to arrive in Portugal this week, remember that masks are mandatory on beaches, or you will face a £85 fine.

The online flights search engine Skyscanner reports that bookings to Portugal are up 660% per day as of a week ago. The press say that second home owners are planning to take advantage of the re-opening to get to their properties – this is also the case for people who have second homes in France and Spain.

If you’re heading for Spain, however, which is starting to open up, be aware that its list status is in question. The country is not insisting on a vaccine passport or a negative test, but it’s likely to remain on the amber list until June due to its case rates, and you will need to isolate on your return.

Transatlantic travel remains closed, although there is pressure on both Biden and Johnson to open it up as soon as possible to allow families on both sides of the Pond to reunite. Both Australia and New Zealand are currently on the green list.

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If you’re travelling out of the UK and you’ve had your jabs, you’ll be able to demonstrate this via the NHS app on your phone. Don’t rely on this, though – some countries are not asking for proof of vaccination yet, and you may need to display other evidence that you don’t have the virus, such as a negative pre-departure test.

The UK government says that if you don’t have a smartphone and you know that the country you are travelling to requires proof of your Covid-19 vaccination status, you can call the NHS helpline on 119 and ask for a letter to be posted to you. This must be at least five days after you’ve completed your course of the vaccine, and the letter should take up to five days to reach you. If you do want to use the phone app, however, the government recommends that you register with the NHS app before booking your international travel, at least two weeks before your departure date, and once you’ve had a full course of vaccinations.

If you’re wondering how these things are evaluated, the current British government measures are based on the premise that the UK’s Covid-19 infection rate should remain below 50 cases per 100,000 people (it’s currently standing at around 21.3 cases). Hopefully, vaccination will prove resilient when it comes to the new Indian strain of Covid-19, as there have already been outbreaks of this in some parts of the UK.

 

The Netherlands and Covid-19 vaccination

If you’re an expat in the Netherlands, authorities warn that you should register with your municipality – otherwise, you might not get your invitation for your Covid-19 vaccination. The Ministry of Health says that around 250,000 migrant workers are not registered with the Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP), and if you can’t be found, you won’t be vaccinated.

 

British citizens resident in Spain say they have ‘been refused’ vaccinations

The Daily Mirror reported in May that some British residents of Spain who do not have public health cards have been turned away from vaccination centres, with one being told that they ‘don’t vaccinate foreigners.’ The Spanish Ministry of Health says that the rollout applies to everyone, regardless of status, but this does not seem to have filtered down to all regional health authorities, the institutions that are responsible for the vaccination programmes. In Arrecife, issues with elderly expats who are reliant on private health insurance have been reported. One couple did manage to get their jabs, but only by showing all the documentation they could find in order to prove their residence.

 

Kuwait bans entry for expats

Kuwait’s Civil Aviation Authority says that it is extending a ban on entering the country to everyone except citizens until further notice. If you have citizenship, you are allowed to enter, but you must remain for a week in a hotel in quarantine, followed by another week at home.

 

Go Mexican for your health insurance

The International Travel and Health Insurance Journal says that American clients are increasingly looking at foreign insurance plans to cover the cost of their medical care – specifically, in Mexico. MexInsurance®, a health insurance broker, are offering Mexican health insurance plans through Cigna, saying that they are much more affordable than US-based plans. CEO Charles Lundy says: “It just makes more sense for frequent travellers to Mexico to buy Mexican health insurance while they’re abroad.”


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