From checking if the border is open and whether you need proof of a negative coronavirus test to checking if you need a visa, here's everything you need to know before booking a trip abroad this summer...
Travelling in a world with coronavirus is something that has not been possible for a long time. But with the UK government’s announcement on Friday that many places have been taken off the FCO’s list for only essential travel and with 59 destinations now exempt from quarantine in England, travel is slowly becoming more possible. But, whatever your nationality, it won’t be anywhere near as easy as it was before March. Here is a checklist of things to remember when booking your travels this summer…
Since March, many of the world’s borders have been closed. These are slowly starting to reopen, particularly in Europe, as we all get used to travel in a post-coronavirus world. But things will not be as simple as they were before the pandemic. Although the UK government has released its list of 59 countries that are exempt from quarantine in England, this doesn’t mean you can simply hop on a plane to wherever you want. Many of the world’s borders are still closed, and some that are open still have strict measures in place. Make sure you check your destination’s border is open to UK travellers before booking your flight.
Just because a border is open, it doesn’t mean you can go on holiday there. For example, Ecuador’s borders are technically open, but all passengers will have to self-isolate on arrival for 14 days. And what about on the way back? Even if a country is allowing UK visitors in without the need to quarantine, that doesn’t mean you won’t have to go into isolation on your return. This list of 59 countries shows the 23 places UK travellers can go without having to self-isolate on arrival and without having to self-isolate on their return to England. Remember, this list currently only applies to England, with the rest of the UK yet to agree to the list.
Even if a country’s border is open, it doesn’t mean that the usual tourist attractions will be. While many of London’s stand-out places are now open for business, this is not the case for every capital in the world. In Italy, for example, bars, restaurants and hotels are starting to open back up, but public transport is still largely out of bounds, meaning you’ll need to travel by private taxi or hire car. Over in France, while the Eiffel Tower is open, it is only open up to the second floor, with the top floor closed to ensure social distancing.
Wherever you’re going, a country’s tourist board is a great resource to find out which tourist attractions are welcoming visitors, and which remain closed for the time being.
Some countries that are open and do not have a quarantine in place are still asking for health certificates before you fly. The Netherlands, for example, are asking all visitors to fill out a ‘fit-to-fly’ health declaration form, which will ask if you have any COVID-19 symptoms. You will need this form to be allowed to board the plane. Those wishing to enter Austria will need a medical certificate that is no older than four days. Belarus will only allow travellers to enter without having to quarantine if they have a medical certificate showing a negative coronavirus test result. Before travelling anywhere this Summer, be sure to check the UK government’s foreign travel advice for the country you’re visiting, to find out if you need a health certificate.
For most places, yes. Madeira, Slovakia, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Taiwan and Tunisia are just a handful of the places you will need to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to arriving. Make sure you check how old these can be, too: some places will accept tests up to 72 hours old, while others only accept tests no older than 48 hours.
Some places, such as the Azores and Iceland do not require you to bring proof of a negative test with you but will instead test you on your arrival. Be sure to check what the specific rules are for the destination you plan on visiting.
Many destinations have cancelled their visa-on-arrival for UK travellers, which means you will have to check more carefully if you need a visa before visiting anywhere. Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Thailand are just a few of the places you will need a visa in advance of travelling to. Remember the rules around visas can change at short notice, so be sure to regularly check the UK government’s travel advice for your destination to find out the specific visa requirements.
Croatia, Hungary, Iceland and Jersey among others all have forms you need to fill in before you travel. Expect much longer waits at the airports than you had in a pre-coronavirus world, too. From filling out contact details to the address of where you are staying, you should expect paperwork at the airport before you’re allowed to enter a country.
Also be aware that there is a rather lengthly Public Health Passenger Locator Form to fill out ahead of your return to the UK. Many have reported that the form takes over 15 minutes to fill in, so save yourself some time by filling it out on the plane. If you're really organised, you can even fill it out and submit it electronically 48 hours before your arrival back in the UK.
If you’re the kind of traveller who leaves booking a hotel until literally the last minute, you will need to change your ways. In line with ‘track and trace’ measures, many destinations around the world will need to see proof of your accommodation at the airport, so make sure you have it printed out and ready for inspection.
During the height of the pandemic, the big problem for lots of travellers was that they could not get their trip insured. This is because it is extremely hard to find cover for somewhere where the FCO advises against travel. Now that the FCO has lifted travel restrictions for many countries and territories around the world (you can see the full list here) it will be easier to find insurance. But make sure you check the fine print to work out what exactly you are covered against and what your rights are.
If you think you can travel without insurance, think again. While we would always recommend you travel with insurance, now it is more important than ever. Many countries will not even allow you to enter without proof of travel insurance, so be prepared to have your policy checked at the airport.
You will almost certainly need to wear a mask during the entire trip on the plane or train, but also consider your destination’s rules around wearing masks. Some countries, such as Spain require masks to be worn in public places such as transport and in shops, while other places will need you to wear your mask whenever you are outside of your accommodation. When in doubt, make sure you have one just in case.
Even something as trivial as nipping to the loo won’t be simple in a post-COVID world! In order to maintain social distancing, many airlines are imposing stricter in-flight measures. You will need to stay in your seat the whole time with your mask on. If you want to go to the toilet, depending on who you’re flying with, you will either have to ask the air steward for permission, or pre-book your toilet slot before flying. Check the specific rules with your airline.
Once you have cleared the airport measures and you are in your destination, there will still be things to think about. Gone are the days of spontaneously wandering where you want when you want. If you want to go out for dinner, book ahead. If you have a particular museum in mind, check if it’s open and whether you need to pre-book a time slot. With social distancing in place, you will need to be more organised about where and when you want to go. As well as this, be sure to check if your destination has a curfew in place because of coronavirus and make sure you know what the local social distancing measures and rules on groups are.
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