‘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 will hopefully be changed soon to reflect the varying degrees of caution needed to visit each country. A statement from Leo Varadkar on May 8th also gave us some hope:
“What we really need is an Irish-British solution within the common travel area, or a European-wide decision on what we do within our airports. We want air travel to resume again – I still want the possibility of people to engage in business and leisure travel before the end of the year, if not this summer. Some work is being done at European Commission level to make sure we all do the same thing at our airports.”
Some countries including Austria have started to re-open already, while others such as Greece have outlined the 1st of July as a proposed date to welcome international tourists. The end of June has been mentioned to commence domestic tourism in Spain, with International tourists welcomed in selected areas shortly afterwards. The Balearic and Canary Islands have been the least affected and it is likely that they will be the first to open.
A recent webinar with Susana Cardoso (Director of Visit Portugal ) confirmed that hotels in Portugal will be opening in June and they expect 60% of flights to be back in operation by September.
It is likely that when a country does open for tourism, not all nationalities will be allowed enter, and only those whose countries have got Covd-19 ‘under control ‘ will be allowed in. Ireland should be one of those countries but we need to wait a little longer to see how this develops.
2. When will airlines start flying again?
We have seen some green shoots with regard to airlines flying again recently, particularly the latest safety video from Ryanair (below). Emirates published photos of 10 minute Covid-19 tests taking place in Dubai, while Vienna now offers tests to all passengers for a fee of €190, if they wish to avoid self isolating for 14 days.
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.
Qatar Airways announced a resumption of flights to various cities across the globe at the end June – Dublin is included. Many flights are still available for sale in July and August, so we will have to wait and see when can we travel again, but it is likely that there will be flights operating in July and August.
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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