Nobody knows quite how long the coronavirus – COVID-19 – will continue to restrict travel for Britain and so many countries around the world. Even when domestic isolation restrictions ease up, travel will not return to normal for a long time after.
International travel is complicated further by differing restrictions placed here and in the country you intend to visit. This guide provides advice on what to do if you need to travel, perhaps to your home abroad or to come back to the UK.
Returning to Britain is the easy part – at the time of writing, the UK Government is urging all citizens to come home now and to liaise with a particular Government travel task force and the airlines to do so.
Leaving Britain, however, is a different ball game.
The whole COVID-19 pandemic is fast-moving. But while the authorities do all they can to help, the bureaucracy can lag for a few days. The best thing to do before you consider any sort of travel abroad, whether it is deemed to be urgent or not, is to consult the Foreign Office website for the very latest advice.
Some countries have closed their borders entirely; others remain open but with special conditions. For example, while the Channel Tunnel remains open to UK passengers heading to France, those travellers may well be turned back by the French authorities if they have no good reason to be in the country.
Holidays in the south of France or romantic trips to Paris are currently out of the question, therefore. But you can head to France if:
This, therefore, precludes people who are heading to France to look at potential places to live. But if you are moving to France to begin a new life, you should be fine to travel.
Similar restrictions are in place across most of Europe, so always check with the Foreign Office first.
If your destination is drivable – and we include Spain here, even though its a long trip – and your checks confirm you will be allowed in the country, then it is advisable to drive if possible.
There are four key reasons this will be your better choice:
If you do find you must travel by bus, plane or train, take the necessary personal protection precautions. Exercise the two-metre rule at all times if at all possible, wash your hands regularly and wear a face mask if you have one.
You must also research thoroughly what the latest rules are regarding freedom of movement in the country you intend to visit. While some might catch you out and about and give you a ticking off.
If you did manage to get where you want, be prepared for a worst-case scenario of not being able to get back again. If youre travelling abroad to go home to your principal residence, this wont be an issue, but if you are visiting for work, ensure you have plans in place should you get stuck there.
This will include following the advice of the local authorities, having suitable accommodation plans and funds, and keeping your family and friends in the UK informed at all times.
Emotions are understandably running high during the COVID-19 outbreak. People will be desperate to get abroad if they feel they need to be there.
However, the key takeaway is to think very carefully before committing to any travel. If you fell foul of the authorities in another country or, worse, became ill from COVID-19, consider the strain that will place on your loved ones, who almost certainly wouldnt be allowed to travel out to be with you.
There is much to consider, but ultimately the decision is yours. If you must travel, follow local in international Government advice and do your best mitigate the chances of running into logistical or medical difficulties.
But remember one day, sooner than it might seem right now, all of this will be over, and we will be travelling freely once more.
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