Can I Travel to ….?
If we thought holidays were off the cards, think again. To our delight, many countries have contained coronavirus and that means we now won’t have to quarantine either side. But before you throw the beach towels in a bag and zoom to the airport in search of an escape, there are a few things to consider.
The most important aspect is to keep up to date with the latest official government advice; if the FCO advise against international travel to your intended holiday destination, it means travel insurance won’t be valid.
Another must do is to check the rules of the country you’re heading to via their own government’s website in case there are specific restrictions or requirements you need to be aware of and adhere to. This is important as while the country may appear on the UK government’s exempt list, it doesn’t mean we’re necessarily allowed to visit.
The FCO also offers a free Travel Advice email alert service; just sign up in relation to the destination you are looking to keep tabs on and each time a change is made to that country’s specific page an email will be sent to notify you.
There’s also a small but significant issue of jetting there and back. Most airlines are restarting their services to limited destinations only. And if a flight is cancelled because there aren’t enough passengers, be prepared to jump through a few hoops to get the refund you’re entitled to.
If that doesn’t deter you – or you like to think ahead – here’s the latest on the UK’s most popular destinations, correct at the time of writing, though as mentioned above please make sure to check all the latest advice before planning your travels.
As the UK’s most popular destination, all eyes are on access to Spain – especially as there’s pent-up demand for sun, sea and sangria. Brits are among those currently welcomed back to Spain (as long as you don’t have coronavirus symptoms). You’ll notice safety measures everywhere. Many regions are making masks compulsory in indoor and outdoor public spaces, restaurants and shops will have limited capacity, and Ibiza clubbing will be limited to outdoor parties only. But with rugged islands, cityscapes, world famous galleries and famously great weather to keep us happy, we’ll take that as a win.
Our Gallic cousins welcome British tourists, although as with all countries it’s important to check the FCO website and the French Consulate’s site for the latest advice. Once there you’ll notice things are mostly normal, however. While the famous French cheek kiss isn’t allowed as part of their 1m social distancing rule, and you’re required to wear a mask in indoor spaces and on public transport, global attractions like Centre Pompidou and the Louvre are open. And most importantly, we can indulge in the signature past time of watching the world go by while sitting at an outdoor terrace. Magnifique.
The first European country to be hit was one of the first to emerge from lockdown. Shops, bars, restaurants, theatres and spas are back in action, albeit with measures in place – masks, for example, are compulsory in enclosed spaces. And its star attractions like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Colosseum have also re-opened. Commentators are worried that it may have eased restrictions too early in a bid to revive its economy, so it’s wise to check if there’s been a rise in infections in the region you’re planning on visiting.
The good news for travellers is that after a long period of staying cautious, Greece has re-opened its doors to British tourists. But travellers to Greece need to apply for a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) at least 24 hours before they jet off. Other checks include spot coronavirus tests, with mandatory isolation until the results come back. The good news is that by high summer, holiday hotspots will have bedded in their new safety measures. Masks will be required in many public spaces, and taxis will only allow two adults at a time, though accompanying children are only limited by space in the car.
The US closed its borders early on and on the British side, while the government have now relaxed rules for many destinations, the USA is still on our ‘red’ list as it’s yet to get COVID-19 under control. That means it’s not exempt from the FCO’s restrictions on travel. But fret not – the beaches of California and the buzz of New York for example aren’t going anywhere.
New Zealand was one of the first countries to have eliminated COVID-19, but the fact it returned through British travellers highlights the need for restrictions. In usual circumstances, only New Zealanders and their families can enter the country, and they’re required to enter a state-run quarantine facility for 14 days. But after, they’ll step out into an idyllic place of otherworldly landscapes, where neither masks nor social distancing are needed. Imagine.
All indications are that Australia are unlikely to open their borders to holidaymakers before 2021. Like New Zealand, it’s emerged relatively unscathed by the pandemic, with 7,300 cases in its population of 24 million, and it’s being careful not to import new outbreaks. For those on the inside, life has almost returned to normal in many parts. While rules vary by state, restaurants have reopened, and shows and sport are back on again, with varying restrictions. But a recent upsurge in cases in Melbourne has caused it to enter full lockdown again – which is a stark reminder that this is an ever-changing situation.
As a country with a dense population, Japan has just about controlled the virus. Now, it’s cautious enough to close its borders to British tourists, and stopped its visa waiver programme until at least the end of July 2020. But we hope that changes soon; there’s free movement internally, and both indoor and outdoor events can take place with moderate restrictions. Even karaoke bars have reopened, though in some, performers need to wear a mask, even when singing!
Note – details given in this article were correct at the time of writing (16/07/20) but as things can change quickly Switched On reminds readers that it’s vital to check the relevant authority websites for the most up-to-date information before arranging or booking any travel plans.