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RS Tour beginning May 20-new Covid test requirement

We leave in less than a week a couple days prior to our Basque Tour. Less than 15 min ago I received an email from RS Tours stating we actually do need a negative test prior to starting our trip.

The email says to bring a rapid test with us, perform it before attending our welcome meeting, then show our guide the test. I responded to the email asking for clarification but would you interpret this to mean they want us to actually keep the test to show our guide? The physical test kit showing that is was negative? It says nothing about having a proctored test and showing the QR code or email proving a negative test, it says to show our guide the test.

Maybe someone from the RS office will chime in here!

ETA: it appears the test does NOT need to be proctored. Just bring your own rapid test, test yourself prior to the Welcome Meeting (but the same day), and photograph the test to show your tour guide (or you could bring the actual test to show but, ew….)

Posted by
8536 posts

It sounds like they are wanting to make sure people are negative when starting the tour but also wanting to make it low cost and convenient. Let us know what you find out.

Posted by
11398 posts

Currently on the RS website:

Will I need a negative COVID-19 test prior to joining a tour?

Beginning with our May 2022 tours, we're no longer requiring pre-tour testing, but for departures through April 30, 2022, you need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 viral test (PCR, antigen, or a self-test monitored by a third-party) taken within 48 hours of the first day of your tour. You must take a test regardless of whether or not the country you fly into requires testing. If you’re arriving more than two days before your tour starts, testing sites in Europe are widely available at airports, train stations, and local pharmacies, or the staff at your tour hotel can assist you with nearby testing locations. You may also contact the tour hotel before you depart for Europe to get information on testing locations. (Tour hotel contact information is available in your tour account.)

Will your pre-tour testing requirement be reinstated in the future?

We may reinstate testing requirements at any time and will notify tour members by email 30 days prior to the tour departure date if you need to provide a negative test. Please note, the countries you're visiting may require proof of a negative COVID-19 test for entry, so please make sure to check entry requirements.

Some updating may be in order

Posted by
4865 posts

The emails for my upcoming May tours specifically state "bring along a COVID rapid self-test and complete it on the first day of your tour prior to the start of your welcome meeting. Your guide will ask to see your test and CDC vaccine card prior to entering the meeting."

Since I already was planning to bring rapid tests for my own testing, this requirement is easily met.

Posted by
733 posts

“ Since I already was planning to bring rapid tests for my own testing, this requirement is easily met.”

Yes. So you will bring your completed test kit showing a control line where the control is and a blank where your test line would be if it were positive? We were bringing along some test kits too. Both my husband and I work in healthcare and we actually perform the PCR tests for Covid. We fully support the test requirement. My question, or rather my puzzlement is the fact that we are actually bringing a completed test to the welcome meeting? I mean at work we put the completed tests in a biohazard trashcan!

Posted by
11 posts

I'm actually pleased with the new requirement by Rick (good for everyone in the group!) , but a little confused about how to show the negative test result to the guide. I understand that we don't need to have a proctored test? We've traveled in the last year and a half and have indeed used these, but they are more expensive than the described tests mentioned in the email. Insight from others, please.

Posted by
733 posts

Ok, I received a response from the RS folks.

“The test doesn’t need to be proctored, just administer it on the day the tour starts and bring or photo result t show your guide at the first night’s meeting. Thanks for your understanding”

I would recommend people photo the test results in lieu of bringing the actual test to the welcome meeting.

Posted by
6629 posts

I got the same email as Kathy today, re my different tour which begins May 20. What I remember about the home test is that it produces a strip with lines that hopefully correspond to "negative" in the test instructions. If it's negative I don't see where the biohazard arises, though of course I respect Kathy's medical knowledge. To me it appears that RS is reinstating the test requirement, in response to increased cases in the US and Europe, but making it easier on the traveler than the previous requirement to get an administered or proctored test. I was planning to bring a couple of test kits in my luggage, so this shouldn't be a problem for me. The test is supposed to be done on the day the tour starts, before the welcome meeting (5:00 in my case).

I'll be in Dubin where there's a clinic doing tests a couple of blocks from the tour hotel, so I may get it done there even though it will cost me. I assume that would be accepted too.

Posted by
6364 posts

We just saw the email re our May 23 tour. We did bring a couple of tests from home, but may pick up more here (in France on RSE tour now; heading to Italy later this week.)

Posted by
12 posts

This is our experience with a Rick Steves Tour
That we had to miss because of Covid.

We arrived inLondon about a week before our Best of South England Tour was to begin. On the fifth day in London my husband self tested positive and definitely had symptoms. Our tour was to begin in Canterbury in two days.

We immediately contacted RS and within hours they had responded with a cancellation notice and a full refund. Good for them.

My husband is almost recovered but we can’t fly home until he actually tests negative or gets a Certificate of Recovery which is more hoops to jump through. Even without getting seriously ill, getting Covid on vacation in England is stressful and expensive. We had two hotel rooms for a week but you do save by not seeing anything.

In case your wondering, we both had our fourth booster, which seems to have protected me so far but not my husband.

In short, you don’t want to get this. I applaud RS for protecting their tour members as best they can. It’s a first class organization.

Posted by
8536 posts

@Jennifer. So sorry to hear about your experience. Did your husband get an official test done? He will need one for a certificate of recovery. The UK does not require isolation, so if you wanted to go see things when he feels better, or go yourself while he rests, you could.

Posted by
12 posts

Carol

Thank you for your reply.

Yes we finally got an official test but it wasn’t easy. The testing sites are really for healthy travelers who expect a negative test. They don’t want you to come in if you have any symptoms. It’s a Catch-22.

My husband did get his official test on the fifth day when his symptoms subsided.

Not fun.

Posted by
33134 posts

I'm glad he had the decreasing symptoms after 5 days...

Posted by
2482 posts

I just got the email for my May 23 tour.
I emailed back for clarification in cases like mine, with recent positive for covid tests. I have a letter to return to the US without testing, since it is possible to test positive for some time. Assume this with suffice for the tour.
Edited to add
Vaccinated, including 2 boosters. The recovered letter is good to return to the US for 90 days after positive test.

Posted by
8536 posts

@Liz. Go to the tour page and read their FAQs. There is important information about people recovering from Covid and still testing positive you need to read.

I’ve pasted an excerpt here. I believe a negative test will be required.

If I have documentation showing I've already had COVID-19, can I join a tour?
This would be considered a medical exemption to our vaccination requirement, and we're not able to offer medical exceptions for any reason at this time.

Posted by
4865 posts

I understood LIZinPAs question as relating not to an exemption from the vaccination requirement - which is clearly answered in the FAQs - but rather to an exemption from the pre-tour testing requirement after having had COVID. The FAQs are silent on such an exemption, so clarification would be in order.

ETA: the "for any reason" language could be interpreted to cover pre-tour testing, as well. But with her tour in question, I would email to ask specifically.

Posted by
848 posts

We have just completed our Southern Italy tour. Two of our tour members tested positive before the tour began and could not join the tour. So far one of our tour members has tested positive and is stuck in Rome. I’m a firm believer that tour members should be tested before the tour at an approved pharmacy by a pharmacy technician since the at home tests have shown to be not always reliable. I also believe that masks should be worn correctly by all tour members. As we have just experienced, Covid is not gone!

Posted by
2482 posts

UPDATE
Just heard back from the RS office. My letter will suffice!
It's probably unlikely I would still have tested positive 5-6 weeks later, but it's one less thing to worry about while approaching my 2nd attempt at going on the tour.

The FAQs have been updated, too
https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/coronavirus-faq

Posted by
4865 posts

LIZinPA, thanks for reporting back! Just to be very sure your 2nd attempt (or anyone else's) will be successful, please note the FAQ language says:

Bring this letter with you on tour and if your pre-tour test is positive show it to your guide.

Emphasis is mine, highlighting the requirement to do a self test, with the recovery letter as backup if the self test is positive.

(Those are the instructions the guides are likely to have been given.)

Posted by
11 posts

Hello, Kathy!

Yes, you only have to show the test result to your guide, it does not have to be proctored!

Posted by
11398 posts

Some key updated language

Will I need a negative COVID-19 test prior to joining a tour?

*Beginning with our tours starting May 20, 2022 , we're requiring pre-tour testing with a rapid self-test. Each tour member will need to show proof of a negative self-test taken on the first day of the tour. A test is required to participate in the tour regardless of whether or not a test is required for entry into a country.

What if I've recently had COVID and test positive with my pre-tour test?
If you've had COVID between 14 - 90 days prior to the start of your tour, you may obtain a letter of recovery signed by your doctor that documents your illness and recovery. Bring this letter with you on tour and if your pre-tour test is positive show it to your guide. A COVID recovery letter will also allow you to fly back to the US if your pre-flight COVID test is positive.*