‘When can we travel again?’ was the top searched question on Google last week. Find out my thoughts below.
I was surprised to learn that ‘when can we travel again’ was the top searched question in Ireland last week. I should clarify I am not surprised that people want to know when we can travel again, (God knows I do!), but I thought the question was a little vague. The answers to this question are completely different depending on where you want to travel to – be it at home or abroad, how much annual leave you have, and whether the airlines will even be flying.
There are five key questions that need to be asked before we can think about when can we travel again to a foreign country. If you can answer yes to all of these, then get planning! Otherwise you may need to hang on a little longer to find out…
1. Is the country you wish to travel to open for international visitors?
Currently the Department of Foreign Affairs is advising against non-essential travel to ANY country. However, this is due to be reviewed by July 9th, with possible air bridges to be introduced between countries will low levels of Covid-19. Most of Europe will be open to International visitors by 1st July, but many countries including Australia, New Zealand and the US are expected to be closed to International visitors for many months.
2. When will airlines start flying again?
Many airlines have already resumed flying, with many more due to start from July 1st. However, the big debate is how people can socially distance on airplanes, which won’t be possible if airlines need to remain profitable. There will likely be temperature checks at airports and masks mandatory, a digital health passport may also be introduced. I am hopeful that contactless flights (limited service from flight attendants) will go ahead with limited social distancing required. Ryanair have stated that they hope to have 40% of their planes flying in July – this video highlights how they plan to do that.
3. Are you prepared to self-isolate on entry and on your return?
Even if a country is allowing foreign visitors entry, there may be restrictions with regard to self isolation. These policies are changing all the time and may be removed in due course. Tests may also be carried out at the airport (see above) to eliminate the need for self isolation.
Currently Ireland has a policy whereby anyone entering Ireland has to self isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether you are tourists or residents. While this is not strictly being adhered to, many businesses may have impose restrictions on employees to self-isolate after holidays, even if our government changes its advice. It is possible that you will need to plan annual leave for up to six weeks if you want to take a two week holiday – this includes two weeks self isolation when you arrive and when you return. If you can work from home this may not be an issue for you, but it should be something you clarify with your employer before you plan a holiday.
4. Are you happy to holiday with restrictions still in place?
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There is no doubt that holidays will not be the same until a vaccine is found. Most countries will have restrictions on the number of people in hotels, restaurants, bars and even beaches. CNN reports that people may need to make a reservation via an app to go to the beach!
However, we have managed to get used to restrictions to a certain extent at home, so perhaps we will get used to it when travelling too. Villas and self catering holidays are already proving to be widely searched, and hotels will have much smaller numbers of guests. Personally, as I am not in the high-risk category, I will certainly be happy to holiday with restrictions in place, if it means getting some valuable beach time!
5. Are you concerned about contracting Covid-19 while you are away?
This might vary depending on your age, reason for travel, and whether you can take time off work if you do happen to contract Covid-19 while abroad. Most countries when open, will have restrictions in place, possibly similar to our own. You may find the likelihood of contracting Covid-19 abroad is not much more than staying at home.
However, it is likely that you wont be able to stick to social distancing guidelines in airports, airplanes and even beaches. Many new insurance policies may have exclusions in place and will not cover you for Covid-19 – however Multitrip.com will cover you once the Department of Foreign Affairs says it is safe to travel to your destination. Ts&Cs will apply.
While the free European Heath Insurance card will be allow you to get treatment in a public hospital in Europe, it will not cover you for additional expenses such as hotel bills or rebooking alternative flights, should you need to stay in a country longer than planned. It is important to have adequate travel insurance cover in place before you travel.
It is important to note that travel restrictions and airline policies are changing daily, and that social distancing has become the new normal. Of course if a Covid-19 vaccine is found, travel may back to normal sooner than we think. In the meantime, I am hopeful that the work being done at European Commission level and throughout the world will make sure airports and airlines will be adequately prepared for when can we travel again – lets hope it is sooner rather than later.
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