Archive photo shows a technician taking a swab from a woman to be tested for covid-19
Photo: Matic Zorman
Conflicting information about covid-19 testing for travel and a peak in demand is causing chaos for Luxembourg holidaymakers ahead of their summer vacations.
In a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus and get around quarantine rules, some countries, including Germany, are requesting proof of a negative covid-19 test from holidaymakers, no older than 48 hours.
Luxembourg offers free testing for residents and workers by appointment across nine sites, reduced from 16, as a general monitoring strategy but also to enable holiday travel. However, high demand during the peak holiday season and the way the bookings are managed mean some would-be travellers have faced delays in receiving the code required to reserve an appointment, jeopardising their travel plans.
Canadian researcher and Luxembourg resident Gabriela Novak, who was planning a driving holiday with her two daughters to Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, made her request on Thursday, only for it to be rejected the following Monday because of lack of time.
The health ministry says that people wishing to travel can obtain a doctor’s prescription to have a free test at a private laboratory, ensuring a quicker turnaround of results and guaranteeing an appointment.
But when a desperate Novak called her doctor for a prescription, she says she was refused multiple times and was even told by a secretary she would have to pay for the test because she was undertaking travel for leisure purposes.
“Right now, the system is such a mess!” she told Delano, adding: “The government sent letters to the doctors which are not very clear. That was before the problems with Germany.”
Novak, who had booked accommodation that could be cancelled at short notice, was able to be somewhat flexible about dates, but finally found a solution by making a second request. “I was able to change my holiday dates. A lot of people can’t,” she said.
Novak finally secured a test for Tuesday after countless phone calls.
A negative covid-19 test, no older than 48 hours, is required for people wishing to travel to Germany and to the Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores, as well as people transiting via Slovakia or Lithuania.
In urgent situations, people can obtain a test privately through any of the country’s laboratories without a prescription, but they must pay for themselves.
Novak said the main problem concerns the turnaround time for obtaining the test results. “The test can’t be more than 48 hours old when you go to Germany. If you need the result within 48 hours you may want to be sat by the border, or pretend you’ve crossed earlier,” she said.
At the time of publishing, the health ministry had not responded to Delano’s request for comment. However, it communicated that starting 31 July, people wishing to travel in August will be able to book their test appointment directly via www.covid19.lu.