Scotland no longer requires a negative COVID-19 test for vaccinated visitors
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After reopening to vaccinated visitors Aug. 2, the Scottish government has also removed pre-departure tests for vaccinated travelers from certain countries, including the U.S., as of Oct. 4, further aligning with the rest of the United Kingdom in no longer subjecting tourists to multiple COVID-19 tests.
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“We have urgently considered all these implications, weighing any possible impact on the public health and the logistical realities,” Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said in a press statement. “After liaising at length with stakeholders from the aviation sector to understand the impact of adopting a different approach in Scotland, we have reluctantly concluded that, for practical reasons, alignment with the UK is the best option.”
Since July 28, Scotland, along with the rest of the U.K., had required fully vaccinated visitors over the age of 18 from the U.S. to provide a negative test to get into the country in addition to submitting a second test on day two of their trip. Although the day two test still remains in effect for visitors from non-red list countries, including Americans, the Scottish government has said they “intend” to eliminate that test at some point.
“The new proposals make clear pre-departure tests will no longer be a requirement. We also intend to align with the UK post-arrival testing regime,” continued Matheson. “The detail of that is still being developed with lateral flow tests being considered and we will engage further with the UK Government on those plans. Details will be announced at the same time as the UK.”
How to enter Scotland
Fully vaccinated travelers over 18 from non-red list countries may enter Scotland quarantine- and test-free as of Oct 4. For now, these tourists must still schedule and obtain results of a negative PCR test taken on day two following arrival into Scotland. You can book and pay for testing arrangements via the country’s booking portal.
For travelers vaccinated in the U.S., vaccination proof will be accepted via the white card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All other arrivals from Europe must show a record of vaccination through the EU Digital COVID Certificate. Fully vaccinated means it has been at least 14 days since your final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Currently, Scotland is only accepting vaccines from certain countries, a list of which is here.
Vaccinated visitors 11 and older from red-list countries (Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela) are still required to submit results of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of entry and quarantine for 10 days, during which time they will be subjected to two additional PCR tests.
Additionally, all visitors, regardless of country color, will need to complete a passenger locator form online through the U.K. government, within 48 hours prior to arrival.
Mutual EU-US travel ban lift
On Sept. 20, the Biden administration announced its long-awaited lift of an 18-month travel ban on British and European travelers to the U.S., with plans to begin welcoming fully vaccinated international travelers starting in early November. At least for now, vaccinated visitors to the U.S., including those from the U.K., will still be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure for the U.S.
How to get to Scotland
Commercial flights are available from multiple U.K. airports connecting to London Heathrow (LHR) for direct flights to the U.S. Trains from Scotland to London are also available.
Scotland’s two main international airports are Edinburgh (EDI) and Glasgow (GLA) and direct flights are available to each on various major carriers, including Aer Lingus, Air France, Delta, British Airways, American and United.
For example, you could fly from New York (JFK) on Aer Lingus in early November with one stop each way in Dublin (DUB) for just over $500 round-trip.
Read more: The whisky drinker’s guide to Scotland
You can find similarly priced round-trip flights on Air France, British Airways and American Airlines ranging from $616 to around $700. Currently, flights are roughly $80 cheaper for select dates per a test search on Google Flights.
Although it says this flight is also earmarked on United, you’ll find that it is way more expensive ($3,500) if booking the same flight through United directly, so do note this weird pricing quirk.
Alternatively, a round-trip flight later in November on American would cost you $724 in AA’s basic economy class, AA’s most restrictive fare with no seat choice, free checked bags or priority boarding. Pay $89 to upgrade to the main cabin, or AAdvantage miles members could purchase this flight for 45,000 miles to stay in economy or 80,000 miles for premium economy.
Where to stay in Scotland
There are many lovely points hotel options in Scotland. If booking for an upcoming trip in November, below are the current rates at select hotels:
- The Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, known to locals as the Caledonian or the “Caley,” is perched next to the country’s most famous castle, Edinburg Castle. It’s only a short walk to the city’s main thoroughfare, George Street, which features designer shopping, bars and restaurants. Rates start at $700 per night for a standard queen room or 274,000 points per night for Hilton Honors members.
- Also in the heart of the capital city lies the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, which as the name suggests, features the award-winning One Spa and overall “modern Scottish luxury.” Rates start at around $300 per night for a standard king room, or Marriott Bonvoy members could pay as little as 25,000 points plus $190 or cover it all with 50,000 points.
- About an hour and a half north of Edinburgh is St. Andrews, home to the University of St. Andrews and some of the best and most stunning golf courses in the world. In 2018, the Fairmont St. Andrews was named “Hotel Team of the Year” by Scottish Hospitality Awards and “Best Hotel (Over 50 Rooms)” by Scottish Golf Tourism. Rates for Accor Live Limitless members for standard king rooms (with breakfast) start at around $350 per night.
Featured photo by Alison Porwol Photography/Getty Images.
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