It was recently announced that the MPs had voted to extend the Coronavirus Act until end of September 2021. Despite the extension of this emergency coronavirus power, there are no plans to pause the current strategy for coming out of lockdown.
While we are waiting on updates on the prospects of international travel, here are what we are expecting this summer's travel to be like:
This 4-step plan has been in effect for a while now as we slowly make our way out of lockdown. At the moment, we are only allowed to mix with up to 6 people or two household outdoors, but by 12th April, outdoor hospitality will open and people will be able to have UK staycations. May 17th should be when international travel will resume, but there may be provisos, depending on COVID transmission rates in the UK and abroad. By the 21st June, we should be completely out of lockdown and international travel, including flights and cruises, should resume as normal.
There has been a debate about whether the UK will adopt the traffic light system for travel this summer. This system will highlight which countries are safer to go to and which have higher COVID transmission rates. People travelling to ‘red' countries (countries that are high risk) will likely have to go through stricter quarantining and social distancing, and if the infection rate is particularly high, the UK may close travel corridors to ‘red' countries. Travellers may also have to quarantine if they head to an ‘amber' country. However, those travelling to ‘green' countries (countries with lower rates of COVID transmission) may only be asked to take a COVID test.
The UK government will probably err on the side of caution at first, and label most countries as ‘amber' or ‘red' within this traffic light system, but where these countries appear on the system can change if things improve.
Next week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson should provide us with updates on the resumption of international travel. On 12th April, the Global Travel Taskforce is also planning to provide recommendations on how international travel should resume. Hopefully these updates will clarify what is happening with travel this spring and summer.
UK residents who have had both vaccinations have already been given COVID-19 vaccination cards with details of which vaccine they had (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or Oxford/AstraZeneca), the batch number, and the date they received their vaccine. Depending on which countries people travel to, they may be required to provide proof of vaccination upon arrival, so those people need to bring their vaccination cards with them on holiday.
The UK government will report in June after a review on whether we will need vaccine passports, also referred to as ‘COVID status certification', to travel abroad. It was also suggested that the personal information contained in the vaccine passports may be stored securely on individuals' phones. This could mean that the government will introduce a phone app. But until the June report, it is unclear whether the UK will follow other countries, like Iceland or Denmark, which have begun to issue digital vaccination certificates.
Travellers are likely to face a series of COVID tests—before they travel and when they come home. There is a good chance that travellers will need to be tested at least 72 hours before travelling abroad. Different countries will have their own laws in regards to travellers entering their country, so they may ask you to have a test when you arrive and before you leave.
While it's possible that airports or seaports will employ rigorous LFD testing (which detects antibodies and gives results within 30 minutes), it may become more convenient for travel companies to ask travellers to test themselves at home prior to travelling.
It is uncertain whether all travellers will need to quarantine when they return home from holiday, but it is likely that travellers returning from higher-risk countries will have to stay in quarantine hotels upon their return. Those who do have to quarantine, whether it be in a quarantine hotel or at home, will have to stay there for ten days, which is how long it takes for COVID-19 symptoms to appear.
Those who have not been vaccinated or have only received one dose of the vaccine may prefer to have a staycation this spring or summer. The appeal of staycations is that they will be available earlier than international holidays and they will offer Brits the opportunity to travel within the UK. Staycations may interest those who are uncomfortable with the idea of traveling abroad, but still want a relaxing holiday. With the way things are going, staycations could be as popular this year as they were last year.
Nothing is for certain, but next week's announcement by PM Boris Johnson should clear a few things up. Regardless of where you will be travelling this summer, you should consider taking out travel insurance.