After a bright start to the Steven Gerrard reign at Villa Park after wins against Brighton (2-0) and Crystal Palace (1-2), many are looking forward to an exciting December fixture list.
This is a popular time of year for many overseas fans to visit the UK, dove-tailing trips to visit relatives, as well as taking in home and/or away games across the festive period.
The UK government has recently updated national rules, with mask wearing reintroduced on public transport and shops as of 4am on 30th November. At the time of writing, there is no requirement to wear a face covering in settings such as pubs or restaurants (or hospitality generally).
In a departure from previously relaxed isolation arrangements for those already vaccinated, anyone who has been in contact with the Omicron Covid-19 variant must now isolate. This is irrelvant of your vaccination status or age.
Here are the latest changes to help any Villa supporters planning to travel in the near future…
NEW ARRIVAL RULESEmbed from Getty Images
- Book and pay for a PCR test here BEFORE you get to the UK. You will take this when you arrive in the UK. You have to use the private provider via the link, you won’t be able to use your own or any other than through the official channel.
- Make sure you complete the passenger locator form 48 hours before arrival. Put your Covid-19 test booking reference on this form.
- If you’re fully vaccinated, you must quarantine until you have taken your test. You can take this test anytime after arrival and up to Day 2 in quarantine.
- If you’re negative, you can exit quarantine. If positive you will need to isolate for 10 days. If inconclusive you will also need to isolate for 10 days, unless you book and pay for another private test. If for whatever reason your result is delayed, you have to quarantine until a negative result is received or until 14 days of quarantine.
- Make sure you have had your final dose of the vaccine 14 days before arrival. You must have evidence of this and have received an approved vaccination.
- You may be able to use the test and release scheme to end your quarantine quicker – check that out here. This adds more expense but will be necessary for anyone with a limited number of days in the UK or flying in just for a game or two.
Final considerations – keep an eye on the travel rules for the destination of your return journey. These are liable to change in the same way that the UK has and others in Europe have already done. This could build unexpected cost and quarantine into your return travel plans.
Consider taking advantage of the current airline flexibility around bookings to re-route to Birmingham Airport (BHX). Whilst London Heathrow (LHR) may appear more convenient in terms of flight frequency or direct flights to the UK , it has been plagued by huge queues, IT failures and e-gate issues in recent weeks. This may entail a transfer, but could save you considerable time and inconvenience.
VILLA PARK PROTOCOLS
The Covid rules for Villa Park presently remain unchanged for those familiar with them, but it might be useful for overseas fans to refer to these here. This also contains details and the means by which the stadium will operate if rules tighten further, including the potential return of vaccination status or proof of negative lateral flow tests.
Any rules for Villa Park are of course subject to changes to government or public health instructions. Fans should also be aware if planning to see away fixtures to familiarise themselves with each clubs protocols as they could differ.
Equally, bear in mind that the UK has imposed travel restrictions previously, including localised lockdowns throughout the pandemic (e.g. Leicester). This is one to keep an eye on with Villa set for trips to Anfield, Carrow Road and Elland Road in December 2021.
There is no suggestion of travel restrictions being imposed at present. There is also nothing at the current time that indicates plans to reduce attendances, restrict away fans or move games behind closed doors as seen throughout the 2020/21 campaign. This would be the mechanism most realistically imposed if the situation should deteriorate.
You can get the latest reputable data for the current Covid situation in the UK here.
Current guidance for travel to the UK can be found here.