Egypt holidays 2021
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Egypt says it’s ready to welcome back the Brits

Egypt has announced several measures to win back British tourists, including the promise of free hotel quarantine for those who test positive for Covid.

The country will also provide cheap Covid tests for holidaymakers who arrive without a negative PCR test.

These will be available for US$30 at testing centres at Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada airports.

Both centres will also provide PCR and antigen Covid tests for departing tourists if they need proof of a negative test to return home.

And if any tourists need medical treatment for Covid while in Egypt, this will be provided free of charge.

When can I travel to Egypt?

Currently all non-essential travel from England is banned. The Government says the earliest it will lift the ban on foreign holidays is 17 May.

At the moment, if you do travel, you must have proof of a negative Covid test to return to the UK. The test must be taken no more than 72 hours before your start your journey back. If you’ll still need this after 17 May, Egypt’s offer of testing on departure will be very reassuring.

Is Egypt safe?

Egypt hasn’t had nearly as many cases of coronavirus as the UK. So far it has had 189,000 cases and 11,000 deaths. However, the number of new cases has been rising since December.

That said, hotels, restaurants, tour operators, archaeological sites and museums in Egypt must apply for Hygiene Safety Certificates.

And last June, Egypt was one of the first countries to receive the World Travel  and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travel Stamp for its new health and hygiene protocols.

You must have proof of a negative PCR Covid test taken no more than 72 hours before your flight departs. However, if you’re flying from London Heathrow, the test can be taken up to 96 hours before.

Tests must be PCR, antigen tests aren’t accepted. Children under 6 don’t need a test.

If you arrive at Sharm el Sheikh or Hurghada airport without a negative test, you can pay US$30 for one at the airport testing centres. You’ll have to isolate in your hotel until you get your result, which could take up to 24 hours.

Obviously if you trave to Egypt without previously taking a Covid test, there’s a possibility you’ll find you’re infected when you arrive. In this scenario, the Egyptian authorities have said you’ll be isolated in a separate room in the hotel and they’ll pick up the bill. If you need medical treatment or you need to go to hospital, the cost will be covered.

However, holidaymakers also need proof of valid travel insurance to enter Egypt. Check that yours covers any Covid-related emergencies.

Do I need a visa to travel to Egypt?

If you are travelling to Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba resorts for up to 15 days you’ll receive a free entry stamp on arrival. But if you plan to travel outside these areas or stay for longer than 15 days, you’ll need a visa.

You can apply for a three-month e-visa online at Visa2Egypt portal or you can buy a 30-day visa when you arrive in Egypt for US$25. You must pay in pounds, US dollars or euros.

Will I need the Covid vaccine to go on holiday?

Linsey McNeill

A journalist and travel writer of 35 years' standing, a once-a-week yogi, terrible skier and out-of-order mum to 2 teens. Previously Editor of, bylines also include The Telegraph, The Times, The Observer, the London Evening Standard, Which? and The South China Morning Post.

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