On July 3rd, 2020, the government announced that from July 10th British tourists can travel to any of the countries listed as ‘safe’ by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) without having to quarantine upon their return to the UK.
The news was welcomed by the severely-impacted travel industry but has left those tempted by the bargain breaks with concerns over how they can travel safely and protect their well-deserved getaway.
So, is it safe to travel? What guidance is there in place? And how can you protect both yourself and your holiday from any mishaps? Here are some top tips on how to prepare for your first holiday abroad since lockdown and advice on how to protect your trip.
Follow the guidance in place for where you live
Currently, those living in England are allowed to travel to certain countries outlined by the government from July 10th, without needing to isolate upon their return.
People who live in Scotland will also be allowed to travel to certain countries without going into quarantine. However, the destinations Scottish travellers are permitted to travel to are slightly different from England’s. For example, Scots who travel to Spain will still be required to isolate for 14-days upon their return, whereas those from England will not.
The reason there are different rules across the UK is because each nation can decide its quarantine restrictions. Therefore, we would strongly recommend you follow the guidelines for where you live before you book a holiday, to prevent any mishaps or confusion before you set off.
Keep up to date with the country you are visiting
While we now may be able to travel to the countries outlined by the government, there still could be restrictions in the destination you visit.
For example, some European countries will require you to take a COVID-19 test when you land. While others require you to have a medical certificate to prove that you have test negative for coronavirus before your arrival.
To prevent any surprising quarantine restrictions or delays during your trip, we recommend checking the FCO advice for any travel restrictions on your specific destination or getting in contact with the country’s embassy. That way, you can prepare in advance for any requirements or documentation you may need.
Check that you can visit the destination you plan to holiday in
Although lots of popular holiday destinations have made it on to the government’s travel corridor list, it’s always worth double-checking that your chosen country is part of the scheme.
For example, Portugal is a favourite holiday hot spot among British tourists, but it hasn’t yet been given the go-ahead by the Foreign Office. This means that should you travel there; you’ll be required to isolate for 14-days when you return to the UK.
It’s worth keeping an eye on this list as countries may be added or removed at any time, depending on the number of COVID-19 infections. It’s wise to be aware of any changes in the specific country as lockdowns could be enforced with little notice, and your holiday may be affected by this.
Familiarise yourself with any travel procedures
The way we travel is likely to change from what we’re used to. From wearing masks for the duration of your flight to having temperature checks as part of the security procedure – it may take some time to get used to these new rules.
That’s why the government has put together some guidance on what to expect if you are travelling abroad by air. Of course, details and restrictions may vary depending on the airport you fly from and the airline you fly with, but this piece of guidance may be useful to help you prepare in advance for how things have changed.
With details including when you should remove your face covering at the airport, to information on what to expect onboard your flight, you can find all this useful information here.
Clarify any concerns with your accommodation, airline, or travel provider
We completely understand that some people will have concerns about how their accommodation or other providers will be implementing safety measures during their visit.
Whether you have concerns about how your hotel will host the daily breakfast buffet, or whether there are restrictions on the size of hand luggage you can take on board your flight. There’s no harm in contacting any providers if you’d like to find out more about the measures they have in place.
Check their websites as they may have a question and answer section or information readily available, but if you do need to contact them via email or on the phone, allow plenty of time for them to respond as they will probably be very busy with similar requests.
It’s also worth knowing that restrictions or guidance may change before you arrive or during your stay, so while we encourage you to enjoy your holiday, it’s worth remaining alert before and during your trip.
Protect yourself by purchasing travel insurance
Travel insurance is one of the most important things to buy before you go on your holiday, as it is there to protect you and your trip should anything go wrong.
While we understand that many travel insurers are no longer covering claims related to the coronavirus – specifically cancellation claims – there’s still a risk that your holiday could suffer an eventuality that has absolutely nothing to do with COVID-19.
For example, you could fall ill while you’re abroad and need repatriating home, face hefty medical expenses, need to cancel or cut short your trip due (for reasons unrelated to COVID-19), or even have your possessions lost or stolen.
Besides, while insurers may be restricting claims that can be submitted due to coronavirus, most are still covering any medical costs related to COVID-19! So, don’t risk being left out of pocket, protect your wallet and your trip!
Familiarise yourself with the rules for your return to the UK
If you do decide to travel to a country that isn’t on the government’s official corridor list, then you will need to follow the rules for entering the UK and isolate for 14 days upon your return. This means that you won’t be able to leave your home for two weeks except in very limited situations.
You’ll also be required to complete a form which details your contact details, as well as where you’ve been on holiday, and where you will be isolating.
You should also be aware that if you travel against the FCO’s advice, then it is likely that your travel insurance people will be void if you need to submit a claim.
Things to consider
While the coronavirus infection rate has decreased around the world, there is no guarantee that your holiday will be risk-free. Having said that, there’s equally no guarantee that your trip to the pub will be risk-free!
Therefore, we strongly advise that everyone follows the precautionary measures set in place and that you remain sensible wherever you decide to go. Keep aware of government announcements, monitor the FCO website for any changes to other countries, and get in touch with your travel insurance provider or tour operator if you have any questions.