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Covid-19 – Frequently Asked Questions

Author: David Pettitt

We have recently been asked a number of questions relating to Covid-19 and its impact on travel. Below we have addressed the key themes and have provided answers and advice where we were able. The information below will be updated as advice or guidelines change.

 

Flexibility and protection

We understand that flexibility, both when it comes to booking and with your travel plans, is a very important factor when considering whether or not to travel. Although each individual’s travel arrangements are unique, we are committed on a case by case basis to be as flexible as we possibly can to provide you with the confidence you need.

 

Travel insurance

We understand the importance of travel insurance, especially during the current pandemic. At present we know of a handful of insurance providers who include emergency medical expenses and repatriation cover if you contract coronavirus whilst on your holiday. There is also now one insurer that covers pre-departure claims relating to coronavirus, including being unable to travel due to contracting coronavirus prior to travel or being denied boarding at the airport. Please feel free to contact us for more information on insurers.

 

10-day travel quarantine rule

The UK government require passengers arriving in the UK to self-isolate at a set address for 10 days. This applies to both British and non-British citizens. The quarantine rule is currently in place as it can take up to 10 days for coronavirus symptoms to develop. 

The UK government has also announced a list of selected countries that pose a ‘reduced risk’ from coronavirus meaning you will not have to quarantine when returning to England. The FCDO will also lift its advice against all but essential travel for these selected countries. Restrictions may vary for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Please note however, some of the countries announced by the UK Government still have restrictions in place for those arriving in their country. Many are expected to be relaxed over the coming days and weeks and we will be happy to talk you through any current restrictions a country has in place. 

The confirmed countries and territories exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel and no inbound quarantine to England can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors. Please note, as of 18th January, all travel corridors will be suspended until at least 15th February. 

Please note you will also not have to self-isolate for 10 days if you are travelling to the UK from within the Common Travel Area which includes the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

All arrivals to the UK will also need to fill out a contact form which is to be shown when you arrive at a UK border. You must complete the form before you arrive in the UK, however it can only be completed online within 48 hours of arriving in to the UK. You must either have a printed copy of the form, or it can be shown on an electronic device on arrival. For more information and a link to the form, visit https://www.gov.uk/provide-journey-contact-details-before-travel-uk

 

Mandatory Covid-19 testing

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that from the 18th January all international passengers will be required to test negative for Covid-19 before travelling to the UK. This applies to passengers arriving by plane, boat or train and includes UK nationals. Consequently it will be a requirement to take a Covid-19 test up to 72 hours before departure to the UK.

The approved types of Covid-19 test required include:

  • a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests
  • an antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device

It is passengers responsibility to ensure the test meets the minimum standards for sensitivity, specificity and viral load details so you must check with your test provider that it meets those standards.

The new rules will apply to all arrivals to the UK regardless of their country of departure. Passengers returning from destinations not on the current travel corridor list will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days even if they present a negative test result.

All returning and incoming travellers will still be required to complete a passenger locator form

 

Air travel

The UK government have recently published the guidelines for air travel designed to minimise coronavirus risks whilst on board the aircraft and at the airport. Airlines and airports have also received guidelines from the UK government to provide safe travel for passengers and a safe working environment for employees. Most British airlines have also now released guidelines. Useful links providing up to date information are listed below:

UK Government – safer air travel guidance for passengers

UK Government – safer transport guidance for operators

Heathrow Airport guidance

Gatwick Airport guidance

British Airways guidance

 

In country health and safety

We are currently in contact with our representatives and suppliers overseas, reviewing their respective country’s protocols and guidelines and how these are being implemented.

 

Travel advice

The FCO has relaxed it''s travel advisories to certain countries (see destinations listed above). For up to date and detailed information please see the following:
FCO foreign travel advice 
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
Countries and territories exempt from advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-countries-and-territories-exempt-from-advice-against-all-but-essential-international-travel

 

Refund Credit Notes

Many clients deferred their holiday or accepted Refund Credit Notes. The Department for Transport has confirmed that refund credit notes now carry Atol protection if the holiday has been cancelled due to Covid-19. For more information, click here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/boost-to-passengers-as-government-bolsters-atol-scheme

 

Vaccine

At present, there is no vaccine for Covid-19. The UK government issued a Vaccine Taskforce in April with the goal of researching and producing a coronavirus vaccine that will be made available to the British public as soon as possible. More information can be found here.

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