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Old 11.04.2021, 15:04
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UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

A vaccication/vaccivacation: reflections of my first trip in 7 months back to the UK.

Zurich airport and flight to London - no queues of any significance, everyone masked onboard, flight pretty full, no holding patterns into Heathrow.

So far so good. Let the fun begin....

1. UK Government Organised Super Spreading Event

When: any day of the week (I arrived on a Saturday 2 weeks before Easter)
Who: anyone may join, with special preference to UK, EU and other selected passport holders
How: do I join? Just book a flight into Heathrow
Free drinks included?: yes, cans of water. Unfortunately the Scotch had run dry by the time I arrived...
Further Notes and Advice: Now I'm not (yet) taking the piss but I suggest you do. Specifically on the plane before coming into land. Especially if you are travelling on your own. Either that or start your bladder retention exercises right now.
What happens:
Well, there is hardly an aircraft moving on the runways, taxiways or tarmac, and the terminal buildings are deserted, as are the trains to and from the terminals (I counted 4 people including myself on the entire train). But I'm getting ahead of myself, back to Heathrow Terminal 2.

Your aircraft deposits you at a gate close to UK Border control, for which there are 3 queues: Red list line, Other passports, and UK/EU/selected passports. The Red list queue is the shortest. Other passports queue is (relatively) short, perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of the final queue. This final queue (UK/EU etc) is about 2+ hours long and in one large hall. Social distancing is variable. There are a total of 4 people processing this queue. They check everyone's passport, proof of purchase for day 2+8 tests, passenger locator form, and covid result. In my case the latter was printed, stamped and signed form. However my details were written, not printed, on the form. Sorry mate, not acceptable, join that queue. Which one? Oh, that queue.The one where no one is serving? Yes. Wait another 15 minutes. Eventually processed and exited without further ado. Pass through the baggage collection hall, which is silent. The belts stopped turning 2 hours ago, and everyone's luggage has been placed on the floor.

Now clearly if you are foolish enough to join a UK Government Organised Super Spreading Event it is imperative for you to go into 10 day quarantine...

2. Nationwide Pathology of Lutterworth
As part of 10 day quarantine you must take tests on days 2 and 8 from a UK Government approved laboratory as listed on the .GOV website.

My next big mistake. I selected Nationwide Pathology.

I spent 7 days emailing them, asking them to send out another test kit as the original had not arrived. I tried phoning them but was told that they were not accepting phone calls relating to day 2+8 tests. An answerphone sometimes kicked in and told me to leave a message. But a message could not be left as the message store was full. Test kits eventually arrived by courier around day 6. I duly took my day 2 test on day 6 and received a negative test result via email on day 8. (are you feeling lost and confused? Do pay attention as there are important rules to be followed and public health is at risk). Now remember that the purpose of a day 2 test is so that if you are positive then other passengers seated near you on your flight can be informed (that's why they want your seat number) and tracing put in place and further spreading events can be curtailed....More about Test and Trace in a minute. Of course by day 6 some of these passengers may infected others or perhaps have opted for the pay-extra Test-to-Release and are now at large. And may be I should be released too as I have tested negative? Or am I cynical to suggest that Pay-Extra-Test-to-Release is just another ploy to fill the pockets of another Government minister's mate.... But I digress...

I duly took my day 8 test on day 8 and Royal Mail confirmed that the test package was received and signed for by the laboratory on the morning of day 10.

As for the day 8 test result..... well obviously I shall eventually die in quarantine on day 100,897,923 as the UK Government rules forbid you from leaving quarantine till you have received your day 8 test results. Now do I really have to mention that Nationwide Pathology have yet to respond to any of my emails querying the whereabouts of my day8 results?

3. Test and Trace

If you spent in excess of £35 billion setting up a scheme you would expect it to work effectively, wouldn't you? Another mistake. Around day 6 (not days 3, 2, 1 or even earlier as one might expect given that contact details are on the passenger locater form submitted before leaving CH) I received an email stating that I had to register with Track and Trace, which I did. I duly received phone calls on days 9 and 10 reminding me of the need to quarantine. Somewhat sarcastically I retorted that I was having a wonderful time attending raves day and night up and down the country. There was a stifled chuckle from the end of the line and the call ended quickly. Thank goodness for a British sense of humour.


4. Vaccination

My trip was triggered by the receipt of an NHS letter inviting me to receive the COVID vaccine. After the fiasco of the previous 11 days you would expect more bad news, wouldn't you?

The vaccination centre was run with military precision. The centre and car park were clearly sign posted. Marshalls, many or all of them volunteers and in retirement, courteously greeted, directed, shepherded and checked personal and appointment details at literally every step along the way. Appointments and vaccines were logged and reconfirmed via the IT system. I left with a pin prick in my arm and nothing but praise for a slick and professional operation and the people who made it happen.

5. Test-To-Fly Certificate
This is a requirement in order to fly out of the UK. I used expresstest.co.uk (£80). Booked online, no waiting and a friendly reception at one of the drive-in locations, received the result and certificate less than 10 hours later. Wow, that easy !

6. Check In Heathrow

Even with online check in, you have to present yourself to the check in desk to obtain a boarding card. Passport, COVID test result and Swiss Travel Declaration checked. All done and dusted with in minutes.

7. Border Control Zürich Airport
Scan your passport at the automated turnstile. Done. Yes 2 minutes. (Heathrow Airport/UK Border Control, are you taking notes?).

8. Quarantine CH
Yippee! None. Recently rescinded for UK arrivals due to the comparative statistics of the UK vs CH.

Finally
Now, why can't items 1,2,3 be organised like items 4,5,6,7 ?
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Old 11.04.2021, 15:08
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

Now that they've been vaccinated I was planning to visit my folks in a couple of weeks time.. maybe not
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Old 11.04.2021, 18:39
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

It was clear from previous reports that getting into the UK isn't so pleasant. You must really have wanted that vaccine. Going back for the second dose?

There was a documentary/expose on TV the other day about a UK coronavirus testing lab and it was pretty shocking.

Some people had been going back to the UK with testing exemptions claiming exemption for "medical treatment" for obtaining a vaccination. They've in theory closed that loophole now and the exemption is only for "urgent emergency treatment".
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Old 12.04.2021, 07:38
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

Can I ask what test you did before flying?


I'm going over the weekend, and noticed I can do the antigen test instead of PCR - which means I can do it on the same day as travel (as results are returned in 15 minutes)... which would save a trip to the airport...


That said, I'm worried that there is a massive queue, or the test center isn't working or some other reason that I cant get tested...



Source:

https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/world.php
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Old 12.04.2021, 08:27
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

For the outward bound flight a (free) lateral flow test from Amavita in Stadelhofen.
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Old 12.04.2021, 08:28
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

Thanks for the brilliant report. I'll be using Heathrow as a transit airport to the USA and need to choose between a 1.5 hour layover and a 6.5 layover. I was going to choose the shorter time period but you've just changed my mind.
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Old 12.04.2021, 12:47
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

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For the outward bound flight a (free) lateral flow test from Amavita in Stadelhofen.
It's really not clear to me which quick tests would be acceptable for flying to the UK. They list a whole set of requirements but if I walk into a pharmacy and ask I can imagine they will just look at me funny.

Also, if you do decide to only get a quick-test, it seems this can be done up to three days before the flight. not the four hours like for other countries.
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Old 12.04.2021, 14:18
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

See my previous post
https://www.englishforum.ch/family-m...ml#post3286575

and
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavi...vel-to-england

I discussed the tests and their purpose with the Amavita pharmacist before I booked the test.

I also did some google research in the event that I needed to defend the test at border control. https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/he...on-list_en.pdf

UK Border Control however seemed more interested in whether the test result was printed rather than the nature of the test, see the start of this thread
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Old 16.04.2021, 10:23
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

Great post, I must admit it made me laugh somewhat. Heathrow is in chaos right now, it's going to be hell on earth once non-essential international travel (probably) resumes on 17th May.

I came back from Basel to Gatwick last week fairly late in the day and still had a 30 minute wait at immigration due to the 100% checking policy (only flight in at the time, with max 30 people on board!).

The day 2/8 testing is a scandal in waiting I suspect, I've read countless complaints about the companies facilitating this service. I find it bizarre that the prices can vary so much, surely a standardised approach should be in place.
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Old 16.04.2021, 10:31
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

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A vaccication/vaccivacation: reflections of my first trip in 7 months back to the UK.
Well written story. Was it really worth that level of cost and inconvenience to get vaccinated a couple/few months before you would likely have been vaccinated in CH?
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Old 21.04.2021, 07:24
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

To be fair the last couple of times I've flown the queues have moved slightly better as the EU/UK queue splits off at the end so they have the 4 counters with the border patrol bods as before but then they keep taking batches of people out of the queue to a bank of 6 or so desks at the end.

Queue was 70 mins a couple of weeks ago last time I went back even though it looked horrendous at first sight it moved a lot more quickly than I've seen some weeks.

My mate travelled last Friday and was in and out in 10 mins on Friday evening and he was amazed as he's also a regular commuter back to UK.

The day 2 and 8 crap is a nightmare though - even regular weekly commuters staying 3 or more days in the UK (e.g. for a long weekend) now have to take a day 2 test at extra cost too, which apparently are testing for the new variants over and above your normal antigen test required for entry. I'm back for 4 days this week so it's another £109 for a day 2 test on top of the PCR to get back. Thankfully at least the antigen this end to fly back is free now which slightly offsets it a bit.
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Old 21.04.2021, 09:11
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

Great to hear that there has been improvement at LHR, perhaps the recent adverse coverage in the UK press is having effect.

In answer to previous questions:

A guaranteed gap of 4-6 weeks between UK and CH vaccinations alone would not have been sufficient reason for making the decision I did.

The decision was carefully thought through using the rather uncertain information available at the time.

Vaccination was not my sole reason for the trip, there were other pressing matters.

Despite the annoyances and inconveniences I would make the same decision again.

Others with different circumstances should weigh up the pros and cons and reach a conclusion that is best for their own personal situation.
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Old 21.04.2021, 09:57
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

If you've been vaccinated in CH, do you still have to quarantine?
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Old 21.04.2021, 10:26
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

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If you've been vaccinated in CH, do you still have to quarantine?

Yep there are no official vaccine exemptions yet that I'm aware of in either UK or Switzerland.
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Old 21.04.2021, 10:53
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

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If you've been vaccinated in CH, do you still have to quarantine?
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Yep there are no official vaccine exemptions yet that I'm aware of in either UK or Switzerland.
Being vaccinated only means that you are protected if you contract the virus, it is no guarantee that you are not carrying or transmitting the virus. The UK authorities are concerned with foreign variants coming into the country, so it makes absolute sense to keep quarantine in place for all.

Where vaccine passports do make sense are at places like stadiums or concert venues, since they reduce the liability of promoters if people come to an event and catch the virus.
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Old 21.04.2021, 11:06
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

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Being vaccinated only means that you are protected if you contract the virus, it is no guarantee that you are not carrying or transmitting the virus. The UK authorities are concerned with foreign variants coming into the country, so it makes absolute sense to keep quarantine in place for all.

Where vaccine passports do make sense are at places like stadiums or concert venues, since they reduce the liability of promoters if people come to an event and catch the virus.
With societies reopening and people coming out of their home-office woodwork - one wouldn't be able to tell if people infect at an event or a train ride there. The theory of exact tracing is nice, though.

Then there is liability of imposing vaccines (and having it proven in a vax passport) at work for example, and being responsible for side effects. Loss of income and such. Insurance companies will battle, I think.

So event organizers might feel as if they aren't responsible for spread by demanding a vax passport, I am still not sure if it will not be just a marketing move of sorts or a gesture.
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Old 21.04.2021, 11:14
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

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With societies reopening and people coming out of their home-office woodwork - one wouldn't be able to tell if people infect at an event or a train ride there. The theory of exact tracing is nice, though.
If the pandemic has taught us anything its that politics and pseudoscience go hand in glove.
Of course nothing is foolproof but the idea would be that travelling to the venue you would be masked and in recently disinfected carriages, which is not something a concert venue could offer.
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Old 22.04.2021, 13:33
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Re: UK Vaccivacation: Of Pissups and Breweries

BTW, anyone wondering when they think they might get vaccinated can obtain an estimate here. You can choose the assumptions that the estimates are based on:
- BAG planned rates
- Actual rates
- Your own.
The forecasts change over time. Needless to say, the one produces an optimistic forecast, the other - errr - a somewhat less optimistic forecast. I will leave you to decide which is which...

https://www.omnicalculator.com/healt...rungsprotokoll
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