The New Year is usually packed with festivities, and many of us travel to meet friends and families to have a good time with them. After a year of working hard, and being away from people, the New Year is the time when people want to relax and unwind. However, the various lockdowns and social distancing measures we have undertaken has meant that many of us are also feeling the need for some semblance of normality. However, COVID-19 is still around and there is also a new variant in circulation – Omicron – which may mean there are some changes to what you need to do if you want to travel and see loved ones this January.
The Omicron variant of COVID was identified in November 2021 and was declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as it is considered to be more infectious than other variants, and so is rapidly becoming known as the dominant variant as a result of this. However, as it is so new a variant, there is not a lot of information out there about it at the moment. What we do know is this:
- The first case of Omicron was discovered in South Africa
- Despite the limitation of travel in and out of South Africa, the variant has managed to travel to other countries
This new COVID variant has changed things slightly, but international travel is still possible, provided that you follow the testing and quarantine rules. We are 18 months into the COVID pandemic now and are more aware of how to be COVID safe. There is a set of defined protocols in place, we have tests, and there are now vaccines as well – all of which can help us to prevent the spread of the virus.
With this in mind, we lay out the ways you can travel COVID safely this new year, with adequate precautions.
How to travel safely during the pandemic
Of course, travelling during the ongoing COVID pandemic can be challenging. However, it is vital that everyone follows the rules as these are designed to keep everyone as safe as possible. At the moment the traffic light system for international travel is not in place, and so there are no red, amber or green list countries. Travel is allowed from all countries into the UK – as long as you have been fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine. If you are not classed as fully vaccinated, then the mandatory COVID-19 testing and quarantine protocols still apply.
Before you decide if you want to travel this new year, take a look at the points outlined below:
#The COVID status at your intended destination
The first thing you should do before booking your flight is to check out the COVID status of your chosen destination, including current infection rates and any alerts that the UK government has put out. The infection rates will give you a good idea of how under control the COVID virus is in the place that you want to go to. It is important to know this, as high infection rates could put you at more risk of contracting COVID-19 – even if you are fully vaccinated.
#The rules and regulations of your intended destination
COVID related rules and regulations tend to vary between countries, with some accepting a Lateral Flow Test (LFT) while others insist on a Polymerase Chain Reaction test (PCR). Even after entering the country, you may also have to book a Day 2 and Day 8 PCR test. These intensive testing rules are in place to ensure you did not get infected while at the airport or on the aeroplane.
You should also be aware that even if you are vaccinated, your vaccine may not be accepted at your destination as not all vaccines have been approved. It would be wise, therefore, to look up information on approved vaccines before you go.
The recently identified Omicron variant of COVID has further heightened the need for people to be vaccinated – although it is not yet a travel requirement as such.
At the airport and on the aeroplane
The risk of infection from COVID-19 rises dramatically in crowded and enclosed places – like airports and aeroplanes.
While you are at the airport, you should make sure to maintain social distance at all times, and touch as few surfaces as possible. Wash your hands for 20 seconds on a regular basis as well.
Although the air on an aeroplane is filtered constantly, in a bid to limit the spread of infections (including Coronavirus), it is almost impossible to socially distance in such a small space. Therefore, you should wear a mask at all times and try not to move from your designated seat if at all possible.
After you arrive at your destination
Once you have arrived at your destination, it would be a good idea to take an LFT or PCR test and self-isolate until your test results are received (although this is not mandatory in all countries). This is a safe practice to undertake and will ensure you keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible.
Here at Fit2FlyTest, we have a variety of PCR tests for travel to help you to do so safely.