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What you need to know about travelling during the coronavirus pandemic

an image of someone packing a face mask into their suitcase when preparing to go on holiday

Travel is a little different at the moment, and things seem to change all the time, which makes it tricky to stay in the know. So, you might be wondering where you stand with holidays this year and what you need to know about going away?

With that in mind, we’ve put together a whistle-stop tour of the headlines you need to know about travelling during the coronavirus pandemic. Keep reading to find out more.

Can I travel right now, and to where?

No travel is allowed under the current restrictions from the government. You’ll need a legally-permitted reason to travel, and the exemptions are quite specific.

For this reason, you can only take out a Single Trip Travel Insurance policy with us for trips that begin on 1 March or later. You can still take out an Annual Multi-Trip policy, but we still won’t be able to cover you for travel before 1 March.

It’s possible that these dates will change, so always keep an eye out for the most up to date guidelines.

The ‘travel corridors’ that were in place, but have since been suspended indefinitely, may return as travel bans are eased by the government, although there’s no word yet.

Many countries aren’t allowing travel from the UK either, as the world looks to get a hold on the new variants of the virus that have cropped up.

Before booking any holiday it’s best to always keep up to date with the FCDO advice and the government’s restrictions.

Mandatory testing, quarantine, and other restrictions

Travel has changed a fair amount since the coronavirus pandemic began. New restrictions have been put in place at all levels to keep people safe and healthy, as much as possible.

For example, many countries – including the UK – require a negative COVID-19 test to enter.

In the UK, this needs to be taken no longer than 72 hours before travelling. It also needs to meet the strict testing standards in place. You’ll also need to fill out a passenger locator form once you arrive to give details of where you’ll be self-isolating, even if you test negative.

A level of quarantine upon arrival has become commonplace across the world.

When arriving back in the UK, you’ll need to self-isolate for at least 10 days.

And if you’re travelling from a country on the ‘red list’, you’ll have to self-isolate in one of the government-designated hotels. A 10-day stay will cost £1,750 for one room, with additional costs depending on who else needs to quarantine. You’ll also need to take two COVID-19 tests, one on day two and the other on day eight. If you test positive, your self-isolation period will be extended.

Arrivals from countries not on the red list, will still have to self-isolate for 10 days but will be able to do so from their homes. There’s also the opportunity to reduce isolation to five days through the Test to Release scheme.

Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have their own arrival guidelines, as will most other countries.

Changes to flying

Flying has become a little different to what we’re used to because airports and airlines are following new guidance for keeping passengers safe.

Negative testing is often required before travelling, and some airports also have fast-testing facilities to ensure that testing requirements are met. Temperature checks are being widely used to check for any coronavirus symptoms in travellers.

Airports are making a big effort to reduce the amount of unnecessary contact people have with each other – this includes making it easier to socially distance and managing high-traffic areas, like baggage claim.

A contactless experience is going to be a big part of travelling moving forward as well, and this is already starting to take shape as many airports look to reduce the amount of areas that many people need to touch to make their spaces more Covid-safe.

During your flight, measures are also being taken to keep all passengers safe. This means that there’s no queuing for the toilets and in-flight meals might be reduced to minimise contact.

Finally, once you arrive, you’ll need to be aware of the rules and regulations of your destination. These change all the time so it’s important to keep an eye on the latest guidelines for wherever you’re going.

Vaccines

The rollout of various vaccines is providing hope for those looking to travel once again. The UK is currently vaccinating the population, starting with priority groups, and has given over 15 million people their first dose.

Most of Europe, and in fact a lot of the world, have similar vaccination efforts ongoing that offer a glimmer of hope on the horizon for international travel post-coronavirus.

We all recognise that vaccines are not necessarily a silver bullet, and travel at pre-coronavirus levels is unlikely to be seen in 2021, but it does open the doors for holidaymakers to get away this year.

One of the potential avenues for this to become a reality is through ‘vaccine passports’. The idea is to allow people who’ve been vaccinated to move more freely from country to country, and is being explored in Europe at the moment.

It’s still early stages and there are some objections to the idea, but it shows that governments are looking into how people can get back travelling again.

Travel trends for 2021

With factors such as the vaccines, among others, travel confidence is growing in holidaymakers for 2021 – especially those expected to be vaccinated sooner.

Coronavirus is still going to have an impact on travel in 2021 as destinations and activities will depend largely upon the status of the pandemic in different countries.

Travel corridors that have been used in the UK, although currently suspended indefinitely, are likely to be a big factor of where you can go on holiday if the government decides to reintroduce them this year.

For these reasons, people are looking outside of their usual parameters for their holidays this year.

Staycations look to be booming in the UK this year, as holidaymakers look to avoid the changes in international travel and the potential quarantine they might face. Being a bit closer to home can give us the security to enjoy our trip and take a bit of the pressure off.

Everywhere’s going to be affected by coronavirus, that’s a given. The key is to plan properly and choose where you go carefully.

Nobody really wants to be checking the news to see if they’ll be able to get home, so picking quieter, rural locations a bit off the beaten track might be a good way to ease extra stress.

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