European holiday hotspots could demand pricey pre-departure PCR tests from Brits in crackdown on Omicron

BRITS could face having to take pricey PCR swabs to travel to Europe under new EU plans to contain the Omicron variant.

Brussels published new guidance today saying countries should introduce extra testing requirements to slow the arrival of the strain.

The move would be another blow to holidaymakers adding hundreds of pounds to the cost of a family holiday to the continent.

Eurocrats can hit non-EU countries with extra travel curbs under an "emergency brake" system to keep variants out.

They've already banned flights from many nations in Southern Africa, where the Omicron strain originated.

In new guidance today the Commission said: "Based on the latest available scientific evidence and in line with the precautionary principle.

"The requirement of a PCR test prior to arrival can be a suitable means for Member States to consider, in particular for travel to the EU."

Brussels is keen to avoid a complete breakdown of international travel like at the height of the pandemic.

Officials believe pre-departure testing can avoid the need for more draconian measures like flight bans in future.

The new advice adds: "Such steps should be for the shortest time necessary, proportionate, non-discriminatory and subject to constant review."

Travel fears

There have been 57 cases of Omicron reported across 11 EU countries including France, Spain, and Portugal.

Britain has recorded 22 infections with the new mutation, according to health secretary Sajid Javid.

It comes after a British minister suggested European countries could be slapped on our red list over Omicron outbreaks.

Care minister Gillian Keegan said the new travel rules are being kept under constant review and could be tightened further.

Her remarks will spark fears that the new mutant strain could throw Christmas trips to countries like France into jeopardy.

Many countries in Southern Africa, where the variant originated, have already been slapped on the red list.

That means only British nationals and residents are allowed to travel to the UK from those states.

And even then all arrivals will have to pay over £2,000 to spend 10 days in a quarantine hotel.

Ms Keegan was asked whether countries in Europe could be added next as there are "quite a lot of cases" on the continent.

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She replied: "That will be continually looked at. It will be looked at all the time.

"And obviously if you get some flare up in cases then we can take immediate action if we need to."

No European countries were put on the hotel quarantine list during previous waves of the virus and the emergence of the Delta variant.

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