Travel in the pandemic era remains uncertain amidst shifting rules and restrictions

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused widespread disruption to travel over the last two years. To prevent the spread of the disease within countries and across borders, precautions and restrictions have been implemented by different governments that complicate and curtail travel.

With so much uncertainty and change, it is essential to get expert advice. Paula Cockcroft at Oundle Travel said: “People need to contact a travel professional so they have one point of contact, who will then follow the guidance of the Foreign Office. Clients then have the guarantee of ABTA and ATOL, so everything is protected. Should the government advice change, there is a full refund in 14 days.”

Protocols can differ between countries and change from month to month. Furthermore, the rules for arrivals can vary depending on where the traveller has come from. Required vaccine certificates have become an essential document, leaving little flexibility for unvaccinated travellers.

The countries with the most stringent arrival rules include Australia and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong requires travellers to be fully vaccinated and quarantine for three weeks. In early November China announced the temporary suspension of entry by non-Chinese nationals.

Australia also has a high bar for entry. Visitors must present a compelling reason to enter, and then quarantine for two weeks.

New Zealand is closed to almost all arrivals. However, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that they will plan to relax covid measures despite Omicron.

Spain requires people travelling from the UK to present a full proof of vaccination; a negative Covid test is not enough anymore due to the Omicron variant. For travel to France, if you are unvaccinated you are only permitted to enter if you have an essential purpose, and then must present a Covid test on entry, as well as quarantine for a week.

To travel to the United States, American citizens and permanent residents can enter unvaccinated, as well as those under 18.

Unvaccinated non-citizens must quarantine for seven days and take a test three to five days after arrival. Due to the new Omicron variant, travel from eight southern African countries has been banned for non-US citizens.

Due to the Omicron variant current rules for returning to the UK are tighter. Anyone arriving in the UK from a red list country must quarantine in a government approved hotel for eleven nights at a cost of £2,285 per person. Returns from non-red list countries must take a PCR test and isolate until a negative result is logged.

The new rules have not dampened interest in travel. Ms Cockcroft said that currently there is a lot of interest in travel to America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada and even Iceland for the Northern Lights.

People remain wary about skiing holidays in Europe, particularly Austria, because of the worry that the rules will change.

Paula Cockcroft thinks it is worth booking, “but you really have to use a travel professional. We’re here, face-to-face, to help clients through any problems.”

Yves Yuen
December 2021