British skiers flying to Geneva airport before travelling on to French Alpine resorts will be allowed to enter Switzerland without having to quarantine.
The Foreign Office on Tuesday updated its advice after new guidance from the Swiss Government made it clear that the requirement to self isolate for 10 days will not apply to visitors who are heading straight for the border to start their holidays.
Geneva airport is the main arrival point for many of the most popular resorts in the Alps, including Morzine, Avoriaz, Les Gets and Meribel. It is only yards from the French border.
The clarification lifts a threat to the plans of thousands of skiers who faced having to transfer their flights to airports such as Lyon, Chambery or Grenoble or cancel their trips.
The Swiss Government put Britain on its red list at the weekend after the first cases on the Omicron variant of the Covid virus were detected in the UK.
But according to new Foreign Office advice “there is no quarantine requirement for travellers arriving in Switzerland from the UK who wish to travel onward to another country, as long as travel through Switzerland is less than 24 hours and does not involve a stopover.”
The news came as a minister warned that European holiday destinations could be added to the Government’s red list if there is a “flare up” in cases in those countries.
Health minister Gillian Keegan told Sky News that the spread of the Omicron on the Continent will be “continually looked at” and “obviously if we get a flare up in cases we can take immediate action if we need to.”
Fears that the latest detected Covid variant could rapidly take hold in Britain has already led to ten southern African countries being placed on a red list that requires ten days quarantine in a Government approved hotel for any arriving travellers.
The latest restrictions have brought havoc to the travel sector with operators reporting bookings slowing “to a trickle” just as the sector was starting a strong recovery.
Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association and a former boss of British Airways, told Sky New presenter Kay Burley: “This is a big blow. We were seeing good signs of recovery, it’s clear there’s a lot of demand for travel but this has certainly dented that recovery.
“My only hope is that we will review these measures quickly and remove the restrictions that have been put in place.”
Travel expert Paul Charles, chief executive of the PC Agency, said: “I hope the Government does not see red list widening as the easy option because it’s not, the sensible thing to do is to bring back pre-departure testing.”