It’s fair to say that the coronavirus pandemic has upended all of our plans for 2020. In England, the ‘rule of six’ and the newly introduced three-tier system for handling the pandemic have shown that our lives cannot return to normal, and the virus is here to stay for at least the next six months.
As a result, we should take advantage of one of the few freedoms we recently regained: international travel. However, there are several safety precautions we must take in order to make sure we’re safe when we visit a foreign country. Here are my five tips for traveling during a pandemic.
#1 Check quarantine lists
Rules in England mean that you have to self-isolate for 14 days after your visit to most destinations. For example, you cannot return from a week on the beach in Spain without self-isolating, and you cannot enjoy a city break in Paris. Sadly, it doesn’t matter how long you leave the country for: you have to isolate for the full 14 days when you get back from a majority of countries. Although a task force is currently considering whether this period can be shortened, according to bbc.co.uk, it’s a rule that’s here to stay for now.
There are some exceptions to this, however, and some countries are in what’s known as a ‘travel corridor’. This means that the Government believes it’s safe to visit the country for ‘non-essential travel’ because the coronavirus rate there is low. As a result, you can go on a holiday to these countries without self-isolating when you return. You can find a full list of these countries on the Gov.uk website.
#2 Get a test before you travel
If you’ve chosen a destination that means you don’t have to quarantine when you get back to England, you’ll have to take every possible precaution to avoid needing to quarantine on arrival. In places such as Cuba and Japan, a 14-day quarantine is mandatory for all travelers. However, in places such as many of the Greek islands and Cyprus, you can usually avoid quarantine by proving that you’ve tested negative for the virus shortly before you traveled. Please be aware that you cannot use an NHS testing facility for this – instead you’ll need to use a private provider such as Medicspot.
The rules on testing vary from location to location. But generally speaking, you’ll need to show airport staff a negative test result from the past 72 hours. You may also be asked to take a second test at the airport and quarantine until you receive the results. However, the good news is that these are rapid tests, so you usually receive the results within 12-24 hours.
#3 Be prepared for a new airport experience
Heading to the airport is an entirely different experience these days. Thankfully, a reduced flight schedule means that airports are far quieter than they were, which makes it easier to observe social distancing.
A week before you fly, you’ll need to research your chosen airline’s check-in policy. Face-to-face contact at airports is currently limited, so you should check-in online if you can. You should also avoid taking any non-essential hand luggage onto the aircraft, as this will minimize the risk of transmission.
On top of this, you should arrive at the airport alone unless you’re traveling with someone in your household or support bubble. Throughout your time at the airport, you’ll also be required to wear a mask and follow social distancing. Depending which airport you’re flying from and where you’re going, you may need to have your temperature checked before you fly. By researching the rules that apply at your airport before you arrive, you’ll take the stress out of traveling.
#4 Learn about your airline’s requirements
The changes don’t stop when you make your way to the tarmac, either. Due to this, you’ll need to learn about your airline’s requirements before you board.
The rules you’ll need to observe on the aircraft will depend on its technical features, the requirements of your destination and the individual risks identified by your chosen airline. As a result, you should contact your airline of choice before you fly so you can check the rules that apply to your trip.
#5 Get accustomed to local rules
Although the rule of six is in force in England, international rules on combating the virus are different. For example, in Spain, the measure of social distancing is 1.5 meters and social gatherings can include up to 10 people. Meanwhile, in Italy, masks are mandatory in outdoor public spaces and restaurants can only serve seated customers until 9pm.
The local rules in the country you’re visiting will likely be different to what they are here. For this reason, it’s vital you read up on the rules before you travel and pay attention to signs while you’re there. This way, you’ll avoid a fine and decrease your chances of contracting the virus.
Follow these five tips and you stand the best possible chance of traveling safely during the pandemic. International travel isn’t completely safe and is unlikely to be for a long time but, if you take precautions, it is possible to minimize your risk while maximizing the fun.