Tuesday 19 October 2021

Hundreds of Eurostar passengers turned away in coronavirus test confusion

These passengers are warning others. Photo: Jess Winfield

Dutch free coronavirus tests for travellers will now be accepted on Eurostar trains as long as the scheme runs, the British embassy in The Hague and train company Eurostar have confirmed to DutchNews.nl.

Hundreds of people have been turned away from Eurostar train trips from Amsterdam to London because until now, UK border officials in the Netherlands have not accepted the official Dutch government coronavirus test for travellers.

However, since being contacted about the problems by DutchNews.nl, a new policy has been put in place.

‘We have worked with key partners to come to a solution, and we are pleased to announce that the UK Border Force will be accepting the free Dutch pre-departure tests for Eurostar travellers to the UK. Travellers should check the latest travel advice before travelling at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/netherlands,’ the embassy said in a statement.

Officially, Britain requires that all documents include the name of the test provider, but this is not available for the free test available to holidaymakers from the Netherlands.

On Monday alone, up to 40 people were turned away from the train at the capital’s main railway station because officials would not accept information from the Dutch CoronaCheck app. ‘It was a bit of an angry mob,’ one eyewitness told DutchNews.nl.

Jess Winfield, travelling to Britain to visit family for the first time in 18 months was one of those turned away because, an official told her, they did not accept the CoronaCheck proof.

‘About 30 people were stopped from getting on the train,’ she said. ‘There were groups, families with children. No-one had any idea they needed a different document.’

Britain updated its travel rules for people from the EU on August 2, to include acceptance of the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC), but still required visitors to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 3 days before travel.

But the Dutch test, carried out by local health boards and paid for by the government, was not regarded as sufficient because it does not include the name and contact details of the test provider or confirmation that it was a PCR test. Some officials have also reportedly been demanding the name of the actual test manufacturer.

One group of exasperated passengers left a sign taped to the station wall warning others about the problems they may face and how to deal with them. ‘This happened to us yesterday and we are sorry its happening to you too,’ the poster, written on lined paper, states.

The poster also includes instructions to a nearby fast test centre people could use, which costs €80 a test.

Eurostar

A Eurostar spokesman told DutchNews.nl that the company includes all travel information on its website and updates passengers in pre-travel emails.

‘In response to the refusals which were happening in the Netherlands, caused by UK border authorities not accepting the Dutch Ministry of Transport’s test, we escalated this to the relevant authorities in the UK and the Netherlands who have now agreed to accept this test as valid entry to the UK,’ Eurostar said in a statement.

‘Of course ultimately, as with any travel operator, it is down to customers to make sure they have the correct documents for travel, but we are doing as much as possible to offer guidance,’ the spokesman said. ‘For customers that are turned away due to incorrect documents or positive tests, we are offering goodwill exchanges or eVouchers so that customers can rebook their travel.’

Jess Winfield said she took a private coronavirus test at a cost of €50 and then flew to Britain by EasyJet on a ticket costing €107 the next day. ‘When I got to the gate, everyone had the app and everyone got through with it,’ she said. ‘And the EasyJet person told me that as I had been double vaccinated, there was no problem either.’

Have you traveled to the UK via Schiphol airport by showing your CoronaCheck app? Contact editor@dutchnews.nl if you would like to share your experiences.

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