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Resuming international travel

More than a year into travel restrictions, the Government Global Task Force has published its findings and announced a new Green, Amber & Red "Traffic Light" system for opening international travel safely and sustainably. Even government ministers & scientific advisors responded well to the news with some very positive comments saying:

"international travel is vital - it boosts business and underpins the UK economy - but more than that, it brings people together, connects families who have been kept apart, and allows us to explore new horizons."

How the 'Traffic Light System' works?

Countries will be divided into three categories: Green, Amber & Red.

Green list: If travelling to the UK from one of these, you won't need to quarantine provided you have a negative result from PCR test taken shortly before your return flight and take another by the second day of your return.

Amber list: Travellers from these countries will need to self-isolate for 10-days at home, provided you have a negative result from a PCR test taken pre-departure and take two further tests on days 2 & 8 after the return. You have the option of early release by taking a test on day 5.

Red list: Arrivals from these countries will need to spend 10 days in a 'government-managed quarantine hotel', plus have a negative result from a PCR test taken pre-departure and take two further tests on days 2 & 8 after the return.

Key dates to look out for?

01 May or thereabouts: - We expect to hear details of countries on the Green and Amber lists and possible tweaks to the existing Red list.

17 May 2021 – When some travel will resume with international flights, hotels/guesthouses will open. The number of people who can travel together within the UK will be limited to six from just two households. Scotland and Wales may lift restrictions slightly sooner, and Ireland hanging back a little.

21 June 2021 – When all Social distancing rules are likely to be released and group travel resuming at home. Again, Scotland and Wales may lift restrictions slightly sooner and Ireland hanging back a little.

What does it mean for your holiday plans?

Many destinations have managed infection numbers really well, with early secession of international travel and domestic lockdowns. Life in these countries has returned to near normal in recent months, so much so that like us, they are re-introducing international travel with some very thoughtful and interesting protocols in place to ensure they open safely and securely, with the health and safety of both visitors and local people as the primary concern.

The principle I see emerging is that these protocols will probably here to stay for the foreseeable future and possibly become a part of our new normal, much like the safety scans and checks at airports and hotels introduced following earlier setbacks.

If you are not familiar with the term PCR test, I have added some information below:

What is PCR testing?

PCR tests are used to directly detect the presence of an antigen rather than the presence of the body’s immune response or antibodies. By detecting viral RNA, which will be present in the body before antibodies form or symptoms of the disease are present, the tests can tell whether or not someone has the virus very early on.

What the PCR test involves

The test involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud.

Where can I get a PCR test?

PCR tests are private tests; in almost all cases, you will have to pay privately for this test; there are many locations around the UK that you can book an appointment and attend the test. My recommendation is once you have booked your travel arrangements, book the PCR test, you will find several private suppliers in and around Henley on Thames who offer this sort of testing; one of the suppliers even have a facility to call at your home to take the test.

What else do I need to know?

PCR tests normally take between 24-72 hours to return a result to you. In most cases, for UK departures, you will be required to have the PCR test no earlier than 72 hours before departure; with this in mind, I would suggest making sure you have a midweek departure.

If you test positive for Covid-19, you will not be able to travel; under these circumstances, it's imperative to ensure that you have travel insurance that covers you for this.

For any other information, please contact me directly, Darren

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