This week the British government updated its published rules around its requirement for anyone travelling to the UK to present a negative Covid-19 test before travelling.
The measure was imposed amid an alarming spike in infections in the UK and concerns that virus variants from abroad, such as those detected in Brazil and South Africa, will add to the health crisis if they are allowed to spread.
The straightforward rule is that anyone travelling to the UK must have a negative test carried out within 72 hours of travel.
“For example, if you travel on Friday, you must take a test on the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday,” the government website says.
But one aspect of the regulation has caused concern among Britons in Italy this week and no doubt in other countries.
“Your test result must be in either English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted, and you must provide the original test result certificate,” reads the government rules.
— Federico Gatti (@federicogatti) January 19, 2021
The information was shared on Twitter and prompted some surprised reactions.
“I can't imagine clinics or the local health authorities in Italy providing test results in English….Actually, some local health authorities don't even get in touch if you test negative…this is going to be an interesting plot twist,” said one Twitter user named Teresa.
There was also accusations that the rule was “absurd” and “ridiculous”, whilst one pointed out that surely British immigration officials could understand the Italian word for “negative”.
“Because of course, what could 'negativo' possibly mean!?,” said Joe Mensor.
The Local was also contacted by concerned readers.
The Local asked the British Embassy in Rome to shed light on the rule and offer advice for where test certificates can be obtained in English.
An Embassy spokesperson confirmed to The Local on Wednesday that: “As gov.uk says the only languages accepted for the Covid-19 test results at the border are English, French and Spanish. Translations are not accepted.”
The Embassy spokesperson was not able to give any specific information about test centres providing English-language results in Italy, but recommended that travellers check this list of labs which deliver Covid-19 tests in Italy as well as the Italian Health Ministry website.
For anyone travelling it's worth noting the following rules about the test result that you must adhere to.
The UK government says the result must include the following information:
- your name, which should match the name on your travel documents
- your date of birth or age
- the result of the test
- the date the test sample was collected or received by the test provider
- the name of the test provider and their contact details
- the name of the test device
“If the test result does not include this information you may not be able to board, and may not be able to travel to England. If you arrive without a test result that includes this information, you will be committing a criminal offence and could receive a £500 fine.”
“Your test result can be provided as a physical, printed document, or via email or text message, which you can show on your phone. Make sure that your device is charged.”