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Our guide to travelling during coronavirus

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Page updated 16th August 2021. We recommend the coronavirus page on the NHS website for more up to date information.

Please note: guidance is designed for people living in England. If you are living in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you should follow local guidance.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) resulted in a number of holidays this year being postponed or cancelled. At the height of the pandemic, lockdowns and travel restrictions were necessary to save lives and limit the spread of transmission. However the UK government advice changed and there are new guidelines and fewer restrictions on international travel.

However, you shouldn't travel to countries or territories on the red or amber lists. This list is constantly updating, so whether you’ve booked last minute or are planning a trip for next year, be sure to always check the government website for the latest travel advice.

Does this mean it's safe to travel?

Whilst the lifting of travel restrictions will be a positive step in the fight against COVID-19, it doesn’t mean that travel will be risk-free. If you or somebody you know is planning to go abroad, it’s important to plan ahead and consider the measures that will need to be taken to ensure everyone is kept safe.

It’s important to remember that if you, or anyone in your household or social bubble are experiencing coronavirus symptoms need to follow self-isolating advice. 

The self-isolating guidance varies depending on your age, vaccination status and where you live. In England please follow the below advice:

  •  If you’re displaying symptoms you should complete a PCR test as soon as possible and self-isolate until the test comes back.
  • If your result is negative, you don’t need to self-isolate
  • If the test is positive or unclear you should self-isolate for 10 days from the day of onset of the symptoms
  • If you don’t have symptoms and test positive, you should continue to self-isolate for 10 days
  • If you live with (or are in a support bubble with) someone who has tested positive or had an unclear result you should self-isolate unless you are fully vaccinated (having received the second vaccine dose at least 14 days previously), or under the age of 18 years and 6 months old

If you're displaying symptoms, you can get a free NHS test or you can request a Coronavirus (COVID-19) swab test kit from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor.

COVID-19 swab test banner

Our top 10 tips to consider before you fly

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have specific guidance on travel during coronavirus. We advise you visit your government website for more information before considering a holiday.

If you have understood the information and feel ready to travel, here is a handy checklist of things to consider before your fly:

  • Sign up for travel advice email notifications, so that you don’t miss any of the latest updates on the country you are planning to visit.
  • Make sure you've checked which COVID-19 test you need to visit the country you're going to, or to return to the UK. 
  • Read the safer air travel guidance for passengers before your holiday, which details sensible precautions that must be followed whilst travelling such as social distancing (where possible), use of face coverings, hand hygiene and contact tracing.
  • Buy enough face masks or coverings for you and your family. These are now expected on most forms of public transport. For extra safety we recommend you carry around hand sanitiser for use when soap and water is not available.
  • Contact your holiday accommodation provider before you leave to ensure appropriate safety measures are being undertaken.
  • Check your cancellation rights across various aspects of your holiday, including flights, hotel, tours etc.
  • Get travel insurance before you go. If you do not have adequate travel insurance, you may be liable to pay emergency medical costs whilst abroad.
  • Tell people you are travelling and make sure you stay in touch with friends and family. You may need to quarantine (more below) when you arrive, so it’s important to stay connected and look after your mental wellbeing.
  • Get a test, you may need a negative COVID-19 test to enter a country.
  • If you've had a full vaccine course you may be able to demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccination status
  • Read and follow the advice of local authorities before travelling to ensure you are willing to comply with local measures in place.
  • Prepare yourself for the possibility that you may need to stay longer. Imposed quarantines or local lockdowns may occur during your visit. Plan ahead for delays and make practical arrangements where necessary.

What you can expect at the airport

  • Most airlines are requesting online check-in before arrival to avoid face to face contact.
  • Normal seating areas may be cordoned off to encourage social distancing. Floor markings will also be in place.
  • Your temperature may be taken before your flight.
  • Face masks will be required on the aircraft, it can be removed when eating and drinking, taking medication or communicating with someone who rely on lipreading.
  • Movement within the airport and on the aircraft will be restricted.
  • Contactless payment will be encouraged.
  • Food and drinks services will be limited.

Will you need to quarantine once you get there?

Depending on where you’re travelling to, local measures will be in place upon arrival at the airport. See travel advice for latest guidance on your destination.

You must be prepared to comply to a quarantine in your hotel or accommodation upon arrival or at any time during your stay. This may occur if you test positive for coronavirus whilst on holiday or if a local outbreak occurs.  Be sure to keep your travel company updated on any changes to your trip as they will be able to assist you.

Returning to the UK

As a traveller returning to the UK, the rules for testing and quarantine will be different depending on what list the country you visited is in. Check the red, amber and green list and the rules before you travel. 

You may need to take a COVID-19 test before departure and show a negative test result. The government may require all those entering the UK to quarantine for up to 10 days upon arrival in the location you are staying. See the government website for more information.

References

www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-air-travel-guidance-for-passengers
www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
www.gov.uk/government/news/statement-from-the-uk-chief-medical-officers-on-extension-of-self-isolation-period-30-july-2020
www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/how-long-to-self-isolate/