As we wait with baited breath for news of when international travel can resume and details of the traffic light system, the questions keep flooding in from those who have already booked holidays or are looking at doing so. Not only are there concerns about which countries will be on which lists but there is also a lot of speculation regarding the possibility of travel bubbles and Covid vaccine passports. Here are some of your questions answered:
How will the traffic light lists be decided?
Decisions made nearer the time will be driven by data and evidence. Which country goes on which list will be determined by rate of infection, prevalence of variants, vaccination levels and access to reliable genomic sequencing. It’s worth keeping an eye on up to date country-by-country data analysis, which is readily available from Paul Charles and the PC Agency on Twitter.
How will the rules for each list differ?
The traffic light system is expected to look very similar to the current setup; the main difference being the requirement of testing for all countries even those on the green list.
Red: hotel quarantine for 11 nights, pre departure testing and PCR testing on day two and eight following arrival.
Amber: 10-day home quarantine, pre departure testing and PCR testing on day two and eight with the option to test for early release on day five.
Green: pre departure testing with further PCR testing on or before day 2 of arrival into the UK.
Passengers will be responsible for testing costs and all tests must be booked through a government-approved provider.
It is looking very likely that FCDO advice may differ from the DfT traffic light lists due to the way that the two departments assess risk. FCDO warnings are advice not law but failure to follow guidance could invalidate standard travel insurance policies.
What are travel bubbles and would they work in the UK?
A travel bubble is a two-way agreement, which permits quarantine free travel between 2 or more countries, which have similar low levels of Covid 19. The opening of the Australia- New Zealand travel bubble undoubtedly brought hope to an industry, which has been hit the hardest during the pandemic.
However as with the very nature of a bubble, it can burst. The success of travel bubbles depends on levels remaining the same in the linked countries and can be halted accordingly should there be an emergence of new cases or a change in the status quo. In the UK we have taken a very different approach to the virus so are on a different trajectory in terms of how we will move forward to re-start international travel. Far from elimination, the focus has been on containment. It could quite feasibly be some time yet before we are in a position to negotiate travel bubbles with other nations.
Will I need a Covid passport to travel?
After months of speculation, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed that an NHS app showing proof of vaccination or negative testing will be used as a Covid passport for travel abroad. Further details are to follow.
I’ve changed my mind about going away. Can I cancel my holiday and receive a refund?
Disinclination to travel is unfortunately not a valid reason for a refund. It is advisable to start conversations with travel providers early so that you are aware of your options should you wish to cancel. Check terms and conditions of bookings carefully to ascertain details on any penalties and charges for cancellations or amendments.
How can I book a post pandemic holiday with confidence?
Uncertainty may well be in the air but if you are looking to book a post pandemic holiday with confidence then you can do so by:
Booking a package holiday for protection under The Package and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018.
Booking your trip using a reputable travel agent for reassurance, support and expert advice.
Taking out travel insurance. No company offers full Covid related cover but most offer something and some cover is more comprehensive than others.
Be prepared for the unexpected. If you can take the hit, book that trip? But if you can’t, then don’t.
For more help in planning a successful post pandemic trip, take a look at my essential 2021 checklist on the Travel Radio blog.