Following the recent government announcement outlining their roadmap to a planned withdrawal from lockdown in England, many of us are feeling hopeful about a return to normality – and potentially a holiday abroad.
While the government did attach a list of dates to their announcement, which seemed to suggest that international travel may be allowed this summer, it is worth keeping in mind that these dates are not set in stone. Any changes to the current rules that apply will be based on evidence that several criteria have been met.
So, while we are all looking eagerly ahead to spring and summer, it is still crucial to stay on top of the latest public health guidance and travel advice to ensure it is safe for the restrictions to be eased when the time comes. This information is regularly changing at the moment, with little notice being given of those changes. So if you do plan to travel overseas, you should be prepared to stay longer than you initially planned.
If you are currently permitted to travel abroad, you should keep in mind the following guidelines to help you prepare for your trip and reduce your risk of being exposed to COVID-19:
- Be up to date with the latest advice offered by the country you are planning to travel to – as we have said above, this can change overnight. A good idea may be to contact the UK embassy in the country you are travelling to.
- If you are travelling from within the UK, you should also check the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) foreign travel advice, especially the rules to do with returning home to the UK
- Make sure you have looked into any entry restrictions, quarantine recommendations or Fit to Fly certificate requirements that may affect you. Some countries have enhanced the screening at the entry and exit points, and you may also be required to quarantine for a period of time, regardless of whether you have Coronavirus symptoms or not.
- It may also be a good idea to check on whether the current COVID-19 pandemic has an effect on your travel insurance or not – especially when it comes to new restrictions on travel. If you have travelled abroad against current Government advice, then this will almost certainly compromise your travel insurance.
- Contact your travel agent or airline directly for up-to-date information on their policies and any impact they may have on your travel plans. You may also want to check what social distancing measures are in place which will protect you from coming into contact with potentially infected passengers.
- Face coverings are currently required in the UK on public transport and this may also be the case in other countries as well, so be sure to take some with you
- It would also be wise for you to stay up to date with the rules set by border control governing what you should do when arriving in England
COVID Test for Travel
Some countries currently require proof of a recent COVID test for entry – it is not possible to use the NHS track and trace service for a test if you plan to use it for international travel.
The only way you can get a COVID test and Fit to Fly certificate is to purchase a private COVID test from reputable companies, such as Fit2Fly Test. Fit2Fly’s accredited laboratories are part of the VersaLab network, which Primerdesign powers.
The type of COVID test that is usually required before foreign travel is a nasal or throat swab, processed via PCR, which can pick up the genetic material of the virus on the swab, which, when tested, will inform us of whether you were suffering from the COVID-19 infection when the swab was taken.
Our PCR test kit provided by Primerdesign, with Fit to Fly Certificate included, has been analysed by Public Health England and Hampshire hospitals NHS Trust and found to be of a gold standard. This is because it correctly identifies all positive and negative samples, 100% specificity towards the Sars-Cov-2 virus, without exception.
In October 2020, the International Air Travel Association (IATA) released research that showed that only a small number of COVID-19 cases had been associated with a flight – 44 confirmed, probable and potential cases out of 1.2 billion passengers.
This may be because most aircraft’s air quality is controlled carefully, often changed and filtered through filters that are virus removal efficient.
Even though there seems to be a low risk attached to infectious diseases being transmitted through air travel, it is still advisable to add an extra layer of protection by wearing a mask.
Other recommendations include:
- Not travelling on an aircraft if you feel unwell – you may be denied travel if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 and travel to the airport anyway
- You should use the toilet that is closest to your seat only, and wash your hands often with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid moving from your seat on the aircraft, unless absolutely necessary
- If you start to feel unwell during the flight, you should let the cabin crew know as soon as possible, and follow any instructions they provide
The UK Government announced earlier this year that from the 15th February 2021, all passengers who arrived in England are now required to conduct two COVID-19 PCR tests by law. One of these tests should be administered within two days of arrival into the UK, and the other should be done eight days after arrival. These tests aim to identify any new variants of the Coronavirus being brought into the UK.
If you are isolating on return from a foreign country and wish to leave isolation early, you can use our Test to Release test, which is taken on the 5th day after arrival in the UK. This must be used in conjunction with day two and day eight tests as mandated by the UK Government.