More than 100 British holiday-makers travelling to Austria for winter ski holidays were denied entry at Innsbruck airport after failing to meet new coronavirus requirements.
It’s likely many were caught out by a rule effective from Christmas Day that means all travellers must show a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours, rather than the previously required 72 hours.
In addition, all travellers to Austria must have had a third booster shot.
Most of the 110 people were flown home immediately after being denied entry on Sunday. Some 40 were allowed to stay in a hotel overnight but just 12 were allowed to take new PCR tests and continue with their holidays, the local authority in Innsbruck said.
Angry Brits took to social media to complain about “chaos” at the airport and described poor communication of the updated rules as a “shambles”. Some said official websites had not been updated, leaving travellers in the dark.
Carnage at Innsbruck airport Austrian embassy websites and others not up to date and police rejecting hundreds of entries complete disconnect/shambles pic.twitter.com/GthNKMXmgM
— #realMikeAudus (@mikeaudus) December 26, 2021
Gerald Hauser of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) criticised the move and expressed concerns about “ruining domestic tourism,” according to local media.
Referring to one British family, he said: “The parents were vaccinated three times, the 14-year-old child only twice. All of them had a negative PCR test with them. Nevertheless, they were refused entry because all guests from England aged 12 and over must be triple vaccinated upon entry – otherwise they have to be in a ten-day quarantine with the possibility of being free from the fifth day."
Most people wanting to visit Austria’s Tyrol region, popular with skiers from all over the world, will travel via Innsbruck.
But the region is particularly keen to prevent the spread of infections after an early outbreak at Ischgl ski resort in 2020 became a superspreader event when tourists returned home.
Europe is currently grappling with the prospect of an omicron wave of infections, with several countries tightening travel restrictions for those coming from the UK.
Before Christmas, Germany and France banned British tourists from travel, and ordered residents and nationals coming from the UK to face tough testing and quarantine requirements.
Omicron has been detected in much of Europe but has yet to reach levels seen across the UK.