Should I Go on Holiday During a Pandemic?

With the Covid-19 crisis abating in the UK and Britain’s lockdown measures continue to ease, should you still go on that longed-for vacation?

holiday during a pandemic

There are significant advantages to getting away from home for a couple of weeks. In particular to your mental health where it is said to reduce stress, increase creativity, boost confidence and emotional wellbeing and strengthen relationships with fellow travellers. This is especially true if you have been working from home when it is difficult to distinguish between ‘work time’ and ‘rest time’.

The chances are if you’re already booked your package holiday then you will be having sleepless nights about whether or not to take the chance of travelling and possibly having to quarantine either when you get to your destination, or when you return. Or worse, catching or spreading coronavirus yourself.

In the UK the Covid-19 lockdown continues to ease as schools still anticipate being opened full time again in September. However the recent spike in areas of the country have meant that certain locations still have tougher restrictions in place. The surge in numbers abroad also lead to the shock announcement in July that holiday-makers returning from Spain would have to self-isolate for 14 days when they return from their vacation, and left many Spanish tourists having to return early from their stay for fear that the travel companies would not bring them home on the scheduled return date. This has lead to renewed fears that many British travel companies will have to make further cut-backs and redundancies before the end of 2020.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently advises against all but essential international travel. Despite social distancing measures and mandatory face coverings throughout UK airports and on the flights, there continues to be a risk of catching or spreading coronavirus. If you do decide to brave the airport and fly, since 8th June the British Government demands a 14 day quarantine period from the day that you return unless you are returning from one of the list of approved countries, which is updated regularly []

When you arrive at your destination, you may also be expected to quarantine for 14 days. This is usually for travel from a country with a relatively high infection rate to countries where there is a low infection rate, such as travel to New Zealand.

If you’re feeling confident that you can remain safe from Covid-19 throughout your holiday, and you are not concerned about the possibility of circumstances changing and having to quarantine then the next questions is whether anything will be open when you arrive? In most cases the cafes, bars and restaurants will be open to tourists when you arrive at your destination as well as non-essential tourist attractions such as The Leaning Tower of Pisa opened at the start of June and the palace at Versailles and the Guggenheim in Bilbao. In most countries social distancing measures are in place such as limiting numbers of guests and requiring advanced bookings. If you have a particular interest in visiting a certain attraction it is recommended that you investigate whether that attraction will be open to the public before you travel.

You should also check your travel insurance details as many providers have introduced clauses that disallow claims associated with Covid-19, so if you fall ill and test positive for Covid-19 you may not be able to claim on your insurance.

Some travel insurance companies such as Trailfinders and Allianz Assistance are offering policies which include disruption caused by coronavirus as well as medical expenses if you contract the virus, and as the demand for these increases more insurers will offer similar policies.

If you have decided you no longer want to travel abroad but you have already booked, you may be entitled to a refund. If the tour operator has cancelled because flights or accommodation are no longer available then you are entitled to a full refund within 14 days of their notice (although there may be slight delays because of the volume of refunds currently being claimed).
However if your holiday to one of the approved non-quarantine countries listed and could still go ahead, but you are disinclined to travel, you will not be refunded your deposit. If you want to cancel after the deadline for paying the amount in full (usually 30 days prior to departure) you may be required to forfeit all money you have paid out.

So if it’s good for your health to go on holiday, but possible not safe to travel abroad, why not consider a staycation? There are many British hotels and accommodations crying out for tourists and from 4th July up to 2 households have been allowed to say overnight together as long as social distancing measures are followed. Many English hotels reopened on the same date, albeit with some changes to services such as stricter cleaning measures and changes to routines like breakfast buffets or spa and facilities being reduced or closed.

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Jonathan Power
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