After Covid-19 forced millions of families to cancel holiday plans in spring and early summer, heading abroad is now an option again. However, strict measures are still in place and if you’re planning to book a trip in the coming weeks, there’s more to think about than usual.
When Boris Johnson announced the hospitality sector in the UK could reopen in early July, there was a surge in bookings for UK destinations. Even travelling in the UK with social distancing in place can be far more challenging than usual and you may not be able to participate in usual holiday activities. Despite this, a trip away, whether in the UK or abroad, can be a chance to escape after months of travel restrictions.
If you’re hoping to get away this summer, there are some key things you should keep in mind.
1. Not all destinations are open to UK residents
You might be keen to plan a trip to your favourite destination, however, not all countries are allowing UK travellers to enter or may be enforcing a quarantine period when you arrive. At the end of June, for example, Greece suspended all holiday flights arriving from the UK.
The UK has agreed to air bridges, also known as travel corridors, with some countries. These allow smoother travel between two countries without having to quarantine in either direction. Places with air bridges with the UK include Germany, Italy and Spain.
These air bridges are dependent on both countries maintaining relatively low levels of Covid-19. As a result, a spike in cases could force travel firms to cancel booked holidays again. Keep in mind that a destination open to the UK now, may not be next month.
2. A quarantine period after travelling may still be needed
Depending on where you’re travelling to, you may need to enter a two-week quarantine when you arrive back in the UK. Countries are being given a traffic light system colour, those that are ‘green’ or ‘amber’ do not require a quarantine period. However, those being categorised as ‘red’ do.
There are two things to consider if you want to book a holiday to a ‘red’ location. First, it indicates the country has a high level of Covid-19 cases, which could affect your health. Second, if you need to take time off work, and are unable to work in isolation, you’ll need to factor the quarantine period into this.
3. Countries have their own social distancing measures in place
Don’t go on holiday expecting it to be ‘business as usual’. Much like the UK, many countries have social distancing measures in place, some of which are stricter than the UK.
Usual activities such as hitting the swimming pool, visiting tourist spots or eating out may not be an option. So, while booking a holiday is possible, it might not be the trip you envisioned. Be sure to research the destination you’re planning on going to, including whether you need to wear a mask, social distancing guidelines and what will be available for you to do. Where entertainment and social venues are open, numbers of people will likely be closely monitored, so make sure you book in advance where possible to avoid disappointment and long queues.
4. Travel insurance won’t cover Covid-19
Travel insurance is an important part of providing security when you travel, from covering potential medical costs to providing a refund if a holiday provider cancels. However, the majority of travel insurers have now added a clause, which excludes claims due to Covid-19. Therefore, you won’t be protected if your holiday plans are disrupted by the pandemic. Keep this in mind when booking providers, such as hotels, and make sure you understand the individual refund policies they offer.
If you’re going on a holiday that was pre-booked before the pandemic and insurance was taken out before the changes were made, you may still be covered. Check your policy documents and get in touch with the provider to fully understand where you stand should you need to make a claim.
5. The situation continues to change rapidly
Finally, the situation around Covid-19 has been changing rapidly over the last few months, with governments responding accordingly as cases rise and fall. As countries begin to come out of lockdown and ease restrictions, no one can guarantee what will happen. Even the best laid holiday plans may be knocked off course by events and decisions that are out of your hands. If you do decide to book a holiday, make sure you keep up with developments and be prepared for changes to be enforced either in the UK or the destination you are visiting.