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Everything you need to know about travelling during coronavirus

Family wearing and putting on masks by a car
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Updated 23rd October 2020 - We recommend the coronavirus page on the NHS website for more up to date information.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) resulted in a number of holidays this year being postponed or cancelled. At the height of the pandemic, lockdowns and travel restrictions were necessary to save lives and limit the spread of transmission.

However, the UK government’s advice has been changing and a list of countries that no longer present an unacceptably high risk to British holiday goers was released. This list is constantly updating, so whether you’ve booked last minute or are planning a trip for next year, be sure to always check the government website for the latest travel advice.

Does this mean it is safe to travel?

Whilst the lifting of travel restrictions marks a positive step in the fight against COVID-19, it doesn’t mean that travel is now risk-free. If you or somebody you know is planning to go abroad, it’s important to plan ahead and consider the measures that will need to be taken to ensure everyone is kept safe.

It’s important to remember that if you, or anyone in your household or social bubble are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, the advice firmly remains to get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms as soon as possible and stay at home until you get your test result (only leaving to get a test) and not travel abroad. If you have a positive test result or symptoms you should self isolate for 10 days. 

If you have symptoms and tested positive, had an unclear result or did not have a test you must self-isolate for at least 10 days. You must also self-isolate if you tested positive but haven’t had symptoms. You must self-isolate for 14 days if you live with (or are in a support bubble with) someone who has symptoms and tested positive, had an unclear result or did not have test or have tested positive but not had symptoms.

Our top 10 tips to consider before you fly

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have specific guidance on travel during coronavirus. We advise you visit your government website for more information before considering a holiday.

If you have understood the information and feel ready to travel, here is a handy checklist of things to consider before your fly:

  • Sign up for travel advice email notifications, so that you don’t miss any of the latest updates on the country you are planning to visit.
  • Read the safer air travel guidance for passengers before your holiday, which details sensible precautions that must be followed whilst travelling such as social distancing (where possible), use of face coverings, hand hygiene and contact tracing.
  • Purchase enough face masks or coverings for you and your family. These are now mandatory on most forms of public transport. For extra safety we recommend you carry around hand sanitiser for use when soap and water is not available.
  • Contact your holiday accommodation provider before you leave to ensure appropriate safety measures are being undertaken.
  • Check your cancellation rights across various aspects of your holiday, including flights, hotel, tours etc.
  • Get travel insurance before you go. If you do not have adequate travel insurance, you may be liable to pay emergency medical costs whilst abroad.
  • Tell people you are travelling and make sure you stay in touch with friends and family. You may need to quarantine (more below) when you arrive, so it’s important to stay connected and look after your mental wellbeing.
  • Get a swab test. Often people carrying the virus are asymptomatic (without symptoms). Taking a test can reassure you are not carrying the virus before your holiday. 
  • Read and follow the advice of local authorities before travelling to ensure you are willing to comply with local measures in place.
  • Prepare yourself for the possibility that you may need to stay longer. Imposed quarantines or local lockdowns may occur during your visit. Plan ahead for delays and make practical arrangements where necessary.

What you can expect at the airport

  • Most airlines are requesting online check-in before arrival to avoid face to face contact.
  • Normal seating areas may be cordoned off to encourage social distancing. Floor markings will also be in place.
  • Your temperature may be taken before your flight.
  • Face masks will be required on the aircraft, it can be removed when eating and drinking, taking medication or communicating with someone who rely on lipreading.
  • Movement within the airport and on the aircraft will be restricted.
  • Contactless payment will be encouraged.
  • Food and drinks services will be limited.

Will you need to quarantine once you get there?

Depending on where you’re travelling to, local measures will be in place upon arrival at the airport. See travel advice for latest guidance on your destination. You must be prepared to comply to a 14 day quarantine in your hotel or accommodation upon arrival or at any time during your stay. This may occur if you test positive for coronavirus whilst on holiday or if a local outbreak occurs.  Be sure to keep your travel company updated on any changes to your trip as they will be able to assist you.

Returning to the UK

As a traveller returning to the UK, you must provide contact details and information about your journey. The government may require all those entering the UK to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the location you are staying. Failure to do so may result in a penalty. See the government website for more information.