With changes to the government’s travel policy coming into effect, some people will be planning to travel overseas. If you’re planning a trip, it’s never been more important to know the potential health risks of your destination. That’s why we’ve put together some top tips to help you and your loved ones to stay safe and make your trip memorable for all the right reasons.
Be in the know before you go
It’s better to prevent infection than to require treatment, so be prepared before you travel. The government has made key changes to its travel policies, which means the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in the UK has been lifted for certain countries. The current advice is to avoid all but essential international travel apart from some countries that are exempt from this advice.
PHE has carried out a joint country COVID-19 risk assessment with the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) to provide guidance to help you make informed decisions before you go. Listed by country, the travel advice includes information about:
- COVID-19 and other infectious diseases
- personal safety
- insects and bites
- sun safety
- environmental hazards
While the current pandemic continues, travel advice and border measures may change rapidly. It’s crucial to regularly check TravelHealthPro and sign up to the updates, as this information is designed to keep you up to date with changing advice and guidance for before, during and after your trip. You can even sign up to email alerts on the FCO Travel Advice pages when planning your journey.
Before you travel, check the requirement for testing, quarantine, or specific social distancing and preventative measures that may be required at your destination.
Don’t travel if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Make sure you self-isolate and get tested in the UK if you are experiencing any symptoms.
Consider packing some travel health essentials, such as:
- any medicines you may need
- face masks or coverings
- alcohol-based hand sanitiser
- disinfectant wipes for surface cleaning
If you need pre-travel health advice on issues such as vaccination for example, consider arranging an appointment with a health professional, ideally 4-6 weeks before travel. This appointment is particularly important if you have pre-existing health conditions. You can find this advice and more online.
How to stay safe when you reach your destination
Whatever the conditions, here are some tips of how to stay safe when you reach your destination:
- ensure to wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water, or use hand sanitiser, and avoid touching your face. It is especially important to wash your hands before and after travelling and before eating or preparing food
- wearing a face covering is now compulsory on public transport and in shops in the UK but other countries may have different rules. Read our advice on how to wear and make your own face covering at home
- avoid crowded spaces and plan when you can to avoid travelling on public transport at peak times.
- if you go to bars or pubs, have fun but be sensible; show respect for others, follow the advice, and don’t do anything that puts you or other people at risk
What do I need to do if I’m returning to the UK?
The government announced that from 10 July, people arriving in England from certain countries will no longer have to self-isolate. You can view the full list of countries and territories on the self-isolation exemption list here.
Self-isolation terms can change quickly for any country or territory, in some cases overnight, so we strongly advise you regularly check on the advice for your destination.
The pandemic is constantly changing, so country risk assessments are reviewed daily and formally reviewed very week. The global situation is being monitored carefully and if significant changes in the epidemiology of COVID-19 are identified in a country or territory, decisions on border measures and travel advice may need to change rapidly to protect public health and reduce risk of infection coming into the UK.
It’s also important to know that everyone travelling to the UK will need to complete a passenger locator form, which you should be prepared to show on arrival. The aim of this form is to help us contact you if you could have come into contact with a positive COVID-19 case during your travels. We will also provide you and others affected with the appropriate advice, support and care to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
We wish you a safe journey, and remember, for general travel health advice, visit TravelHealthPro to help you stay informed and safe wherever you or your loved ones may be travelling to.
Read our blog on staying safe if you’re travelling within the UK.
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Contributor: Blog Editor