Safety travel tips during COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic recently became officially one year old.

Most places are still in lockdown and feeling the effects of restrictions as the virus continues to sweep the planet, causing misery to many families.

In fact, coronavirus has now caused 121 million cases of disease and almost 2.7 million deaths worldwide.

Despite the harm that the virus has done, and indeed continues to do, local and international travel will be possible again one day.

While each country currently has different rules in place regarding inbound and outbound travel, you can at least prepare for travel in the future by keeping the following in mind:

  • Possible changes to itinerary
  • Testing and vaccination
  • Quarantine and restrictions
  • Universal measures

The unpredictable nature of the virus means that changes to rules and regulations regarding travel are being made on a regular basis, which can affect your plans.

Almost all countries require negative tests or vaccinations.

Quarantine procedures are in place according to different national laws.

Plus, there are some measures you can take to protect yourself and others while on your travels.

Unpredictable and chaotic

The travel industry has been hit very hard by the pandemic and over the past 12 months millions of people have had to rebook or cancel their travel plans.

Not only international holidays, but national and local holidays have been affected as well. And with lockdown easing soon, you might be tempted to book another one.

But the ongoing pandemic and the response to it are both extremely unpredictable.

A good rule would be to hold off on committing to any holiday until you have been definitively informed by your own and the destination’s government that you can go ahead with a booking.

The only silver lining might be that any holiday cancellations on the part of the operator due to Covid-19 are subject to a full refund or free rebooking should you wish.

The UK and other governments have all but banned international holidays until mid-May this year, which means travel is restricted to inside the nation only. However, travel overseas can be requested via a travel declaration form for a valid legal reason.

A new type of passport

There are multiple vaccinations now available from companies like AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech that are proven to be very effective against Covid-19.

But the majority of people are yet to receive their vaccine as most countries with access to even the largest suppliers have used the first tens of millions to vaccinate the most vulnerable in society.

As a result, most people are yet to receive a vaccine with full completion in the UK and the US. In other wealthy nations this is not expected until late summer or autumn.

It’s fair to assume that poorer nations won’t achieve mass immunity until much later, possibly not for years, so you will need to be aware of a destination’s vaccination rate before travelling.

On the flip side, many countries are considering refusing entry to travellers who cannot prove that they have been vaccinated.

So-called “Covid passports” are already being used for local travel or granting access to public spaces so they will likely extend to international travel and could become as important as an ESTA VISA.

For the time being, you can safely enter most countries with proof of a negative Covid test. Though it’s advised that you get tested three days before travelling and keep your test results with you at all times.

Closed borders

As a perhaps overly-cautious measure, some nations are imposing a quarantine on people entering their country from abroad. Even for returning residents of these nations.

The UK, for example, is currently utilising a 10-day quarantine plan that means some people have to isolate for almost two weeks at a hotel of the government’s choosing. This is at your own expense, which could cost over £1,000.

Other countries that are completely closed to visitors include Norway, Malaysia and Venezuela with many others under strict measures but not necessarily requiring quarantine.

This appears to be the current situation with most countries and entry depends upon various factors, including where you have travelled from and whether you are a citizen.

The United States, China and most EU countries among others are currently operating at this level.

The good news is that multiple countries have recently announced that they will soon be reopening borders to welcome outside visitors.

Mongolia, Myanmar, India and Nepal are among these. But there will be restrictions in place.

Other nations remain wide open, including Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. However, these nations, not surprisingly, have some of the highest infection rates in the world so be careful if you plan to enter any of these.

More information can be found at Kayak’s Restriction Map.

Easy and effective measures

No matter where you are from or where you are going, for the past year or so, health professionals and organisations like Dr Anthony Fauci, the US Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have repeatedly stated the importance of certain measures.

Social distancing has proven to be an effective method of controlling the infection rates between populations and includes such measures as the two-metre rule and wearing face masks.

The two-metre rule is advised after studies have shown that droplets of moisture being expelled from the mouth (which contain the virus) don’t usually travel further than two metres.

However, a sneeze can go further. Wearing face masks is an extra layer of protection whereby extra droplets can be caught inside a mask, or prevented from making contact with another person by being caught on the surface of a mask.

Not all countries enforce social distancing but most do. Many of these will enforce measures with fines and even the possibility of jail time.

For example, the UK is currently imposing fines of up to £10,000 and up to 10 years in prison for people found to be flouting Covid-19 safety measures.

So, even if you are in a country that does not enforce social distancing, please protect yourself and others by following the advice in this article.