Austria's Innsbruck airport refuses110 British tourists entry over new Covid rules
The BBC reported that Innsbruck airport refused to allow 110 British tourists entry into Austria because they had not followed updated Covid restrictions, it has emerged.
Police said many were probably caught out on Sunday by a new rule requiring a negative PCR test within 48 hours.
Austrian opposition politicians blamed the health minister for failing to update restrictions on the internet.
Most of the tourists were flown home immediately but 40 were put up overnight in a hotel.
Of those 40, 12 were allowed to take new PCR tests and continue with their holidays, the local authority in Innsbruck said.
British travellers arriving in Innsbruck for skiing holidays in the western Tyrol region on Sunday were met by what some of them described as chaos, as the airport implemented new rules that came into effect on Christmas Day for arrivals from the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway because of the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
While 70 of those arriving in Innsbruck were able to fly home on the day, the other 40 were not and were quarantined in an Innsbruck hotel for the night. The 12 people eventually allowed in were reportedly all families with children.
The restrictions, currently displayed on the Austrian UK embassy website, require anyone over the age of 12 to have a third Covid vaccination and a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival. Under the previous rules a negative PCR test had to be taken within 72 hours of arrival.
While many reportedly had older PCR tests, some also had not received booster doses.
One tourist, Victoria Winstanley, said on social media that the team checking Covid certificates for an Easyjet flight either did not have up-to-date information or were not checking them properly. The BBC has approached Easyjet for a comment.
Local opposition People's Party tourism spokesman Franz Hörl said he had no problem with tighter restrictions on countries such as the UK labelled "virus variant areas".
His issue was with a "botched" operation that he called neither professional nor humane, to bring in tourists over the Christmas period, take them to a hotel under police protection and then send them home at their own expense, he told the APA news agency.
He said Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein was to blame because the old restrictions were still showing on the relevant government websites.
Austria's Tyrol is especially sensitive to further outbreaks of Covid-19 in its famous ski resorts. The resort of Ischgl was linked to cases in 45 countries at the start of the pandemic when skiers returned home with the virus in February and March 2020.
Earlier this month, France banned British holidaymakers from its ski resorts, barring all non-essential travel from the UK.