COVID-19 has reached the far corners of the globe, meaning that travel is a very precarious subject right now.
However, there are a lot of things you can do to keep both yourself and others safe when you are flying to another country. Read our below travel guide to stay up to date.
1) Ensure You are Not Deemed a High Risk Passenger
Some people are considered at an increased risk for severe symptoms of the disease, and so this should be the first thing to investigate if you are planning to fly to another country.
The NHS Inform website has detailed information about shielding, including children and young people, and what you should do if you live with someone considered high risk.
2) Get the Latest Travel Advice Updates
Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for information on the country you are travelling to.
The FCO website is updated daily for travellers with the latest notices for each country regarding information on Coronavirus.
It is also advised that you subscribe to their mailing list, as they include a weekly bulletin with the country specific Travel Advisory Notices, meaning you are constantly in the loop with information on the country you are travelling to.
Global Travel Taskforce – Introduction of Traffic Light System
New travel rules are expected to come into effect within the next few weeks, which include the use of a traffic light system. The categories included will be green, amber and red.
What does this all mean, however?
It means that certain countries will remain on the red list and are affected by a complete travel ban. The main reason for travel bans to these countries is down to protecting the UK from possible new virus variants that can affect the effectiveness of the vaccine.
The Government regularly updates the red list, and includes all countries currently included in the list, as well as times and dates of potential additions and removals.
Countries that are placed on the amber list haven’t yet been released and there’s a few theories floating around as to what will happen if you travel to an amber country. Many presume it will include a mix of testing and quarantine procedures.
International travel isn’t expected to be lifted until the 17th of May at the earliest at the present time. So, we will know closer to that date what will be happening in regard to the amber list.
If you are travelling to and returning from a green list country, the only requirement for travellers would be a lateral flow test, providing a result within 30 minutes. The Global Travel Taskforce have also put together a guide on the launch of the new traffic light system to help potential travellers get their affairs in order before they book a long-awaited summer holiday.
Due to national lockdown restrictions in parts of England, travel out of the country will be restricted for genuine reasons only. These include travelling for work or medical emergencies.
Coronavirus Airport Testing
A new Coronavirus test being offered at Heathrow Airport can guarantee results within an hour.
This test will be offered to passengers flying from Heathrow to Hong Kong and Italy and will be available in Terminals 2 and 5.
The test is known as a Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (Lamp) test. The airlines that are included in this new airport testing are Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
The test costs £80 and is one of the quickest ways to test in the UK at present. It is expected that this health screening will become another part of the airport experience and is beginning to make travelling abroad desirable once again.
Manchester Airport also introduced a new testing procedure. The main purpose of this test is to assist travellers in getting a negative test before travelling to their destination, as it is now commonplace for a negative test to be needed to enter certain countries.
This testing procedure should also decrease quarantine times, meaning you can make the most of your holiday now should you get a negative test.
The RT Lamp test is also available at Manchester Airport, meaning you can get your results as quickly as within 90 minutes. The Rapid Antigen test which takes around an hour is also available, but these quick result tests are strictly if you are travelling to certain countries.
The lateral flow test has also become available that can provide results within 30 minutes of taking a test. These work in a similar way to a home pregnancy test.
It has recently been reported that France are banning the use of reusable face coverings and only disposable masks will be permitted for use when travelling. This is despite the majority of airlines deeming them safe. It is important that you only use disposable surgical masks if you are travelling to/from France.
The rules in France are applicable to any persons over the age of 11 and MUST be worn on board an aircraft travelling to, from or within the national territory. Standard, single-use surgical masks are known as EN 14683. It is imperative that you use these types of face masks, instead of high protection white hospital masks or reusable cotton coverings, or you will be denied boarding.
3) Use the NHS Track & Trace System
The NHS Track & Trace System was introduced as a way of alerting customers that they may have been exposed to an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Units that are required to display Track and Trace posters have attached these to windows and doors which you MUST scan before entering. Using the app, you simply ‘check in’ to the shop you are entering and scan the barcode that is present.
This is a quick and easy way for customers to use this service and this is now mandatory under new government regulations so you must ensure you are checking in via the app.
The way airports serve customers food and drink will also be slightly different for the foreseeable future, and it is recommended that you check before you travel to the airport what facilities are available to you.
4) Invest in Essential Travel Insurance With Appropriate Cover
It is advised to take into account any hospital admission costs and check if they are factored into the policy, along with any equipment that may need to be used in the event you contract COVID-19.
Please bear in mind that different countries will have different ways of dealing with Coronavirus, and your travel insurance policy should be fully understood before you purchase.
Using Airport Parking Facilities
Manchester airport has increased the prices for an hour’s drop off parking to £12 in order to try and help them recover from the pandemic.
The new charges are as follows:
Up to five minutes: £5 (increased from £3)
Up to ten minutes: £6 (increased from £4)
Over ten minutes: £25 (no changes)
Up to 30 minutes: £6 (increased from £4.50)
Up to one hour: £12 (increased from £7)
Up to two hours: £15 (increased from £10)
Up to four hours: £20 (increased from £18)
Up to 24 hours and every 24 hours after: £55 (increased from £45)
Along with making sure you have essential travel insurance, you must ensure that any facilities you use at the airport are COVID secure.
Luckily, here at SkyparkSecure we have worked with a lot of our parking supplies to ensure all customers are safe when travelling.
All you have to do is look out for the COVID secure logo that is now included on each car park that is verified as having COVID secure procedures in place.
Here’s an example of what it looks like on our site in case you are still unsure! We have highlighted the COVID Secure logo with the red box.
5) Book a Low Contraction Risk Holiday
Ensure that the country you are travelling to has a low risk of COVID-19 contraction before you book.
The fitfortravel NHS website is an informative source and allows you to filter by country. To check your risk of exposure, click ‘alerts’ from the bulleted list.
The risks range from low to high.
If there is a low risk to exposure, you are free to proceed with your travel arrangements as planned.
If there is a moderate or high risk, you are advised to avoid non-essential travel to this country altogether.
6) Check Quarantine Procedures and Entry Restrictions
It is important that you understand the quarantine procedures and entry restrictions that are currently in place in the country you are planning to visit.
It is also important that you take into account any quarantine procedures you may have to comply with upon your return to the UK.
At the moment, there is a standard 14 day quarantine policy upon your return from certain countries and it is important that you adhere to these rules and regulations.
The FCO website has details of when and where quarantine measures should be adhered to, and a list of countries that are exempt from the 14 day quarantine rules upon your return to the UK.
7) Physical Distancing and Hygiene Measures
It is important that you practice good hygiene when travelling abroad throughout 2021.
It has recently come to light that a few airlines are requiring passengers to be wearing surgical masks only. Therefore if you have a cotton mask, you could be denied boarding. This may vary from airline to airline and even country to country, so it is best to either check before travel, or invest in surgical masks when travelling.
Here are a few regular questions from customers:
A: Yes, hand sanitiser under 100ml can be taken through airport security within hand luggage as per usual security restrictions. Bottles containing hand sanitiser must be sealed, in a clear plastic bag, removed from your hand luggage and placed in a separate tray for screening.
Q. Can I take anti-bacterial wipes through security in hand luggage?
A: Yes. Anti-bacterial wipes are not classified as a liquid and therefore can be taken through airport security without having to be removed from the rest of your hand luggage.
Many flight operators now require travellers to wear a face covering during their flight.
A few examples of airline requirements also are:
Temperature checks after check-in and wearing a face mask is a requirement for you to board your flight.
They also ask you to keep your mask on after landing and until you have left the airport depending on the country you have travelled to and their requirements.
It is mandatory to wear a mask if you are flying with EasyJet.
You will be refused to board if you are not wearing a face covering.
This applies to children over 6 years of age.
The mask must also be worn at the boarding gate and throughout the entire flight.
EasyJet have also made customers aware of the 4-hour life span of a mask and encourages customers to bring enough replacements for the whole party who are travelling.
Any person who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons is exempt from wearing a mask but will have to bring a letter from a doctor stating this.
This airline has taken similar precautions as both EasyJet and Ryanair regarding face coverings.
The crew also favour any protective gear that customers may bring aboard the aircraft as extra measures along with a face covering.
TUI have ensured all of their procedures before, during and after flying are in line with new government measures.
They advise passengers replace face coverings every 4 hours. The airline also recommends that hand sanitiser is used before and after removing and replacing a face covering.
Again, passengers should bring spares for longer journeys.
The airline requires each passenger to adhere to the multiple safety requirements they have put in place for travel.
Enough masks to cover the journey should be brought for each person travelling in the party.
Masks are required at all times on BA flights and to assist customers, BA have invested in a personal protection pack. This contains hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes.
Any further enquiries, regarding meal service and the wearing of a face covering should be directed to your airline before you travel.
Other Hygiene Tips to Consider
Of course, two of the most important hygiene measures that should be taken are regularly washing hands and keeping at a 1-2 meter distance from others outside your household.
This includes after eating/drinking, after using the bathroom and after coughing/sneezing. It is important to note that you MUST NOT travel if you display any symptoms, including:
– Loss/change in taste or smell
– High temperature
– A new continuous cough
You must immediately isolate yourself and other members of your household. This also applies if you become unwell on your trip.
8) Returning Home
Quarantine hotels have now been introduced for those arriving into the UK from abroad, along with negative testing upon arrival.
The measures come into force on Monday 15th February to curb the spread of the Coronavirus. You will be required to stay in the hotel for 10 days, or else a fine of £10,000 will be handed to you.
The cost of the quarantine hotel system is £1,750 and covers the cost of testing, staying at the hotel and your transfer to and from the hotel.
These quarantine measures are in place for England and Scotland, with Wales and Northern Ireland also looking to implement the same.
Travellers will be tested two times throughout the duration of their stay, and any breaches or lies on passenger locator forms about visiting red list countries may be faced with a whopping 10 years imprisonment.
You should also discuss the new quarantine procedure with your employer if you are due to return back to work after travelling. You should also factor in the quarantine period after you have travelled. This may include you working from your quarantined location where possible.
If you adhere to these rules whilst travelling, you should be good to go. Remember to stay safe and stay clean!