Articles / Coronavirus
When can we start travelling again?
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented halt to global travel, with restrictions and travel bans being put in place all over the world. One of the questions being asked is when it will be safe to travel again. In this article we’ll explain what needs to happen before borders can open, what coronavirus vaccines mean for travel, and what measures might be put in place in order to facilitate travel.
Can we travel now?
All non-essential travel in the UK is currently prohibited. Under the current national lockdown Home Secretary Priti Patel has made it clear that no one should be travelling, and those who attempt to do so could face a heavy fine.
When will we be able to travel again in the UK?
If everything in the government’s roadmap out of lockdown goes to plan, domestic holidays in the UK should be allowed after April 12. The plan is still a provisional one, and it depends entirely on how the situation develops over the coming months. It has been advised that people should avoid booking holidays during the Easter holidays, both within the UK and abroad.
When will we be able to travel again internationally?
Unfortunately there is no simple answer as to when we will be able to travel again internationally. A number of important milestones need to be reached in order for borders to open up. Many countries across the world are currently experiencing high levels of infections and borders in many places are closed to all non-nationals.
Will we be able to travel after everyone has had the coronavirus vaccine?
A large percentage of the UK population has already received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. This is an important step in order for travel to return to normal, however, a growing number of scientists are saying that it is possible that coronavirus will become endemic. This means that it might never be eradicated entirely, even if the majority of the UK population is vaccinated.
What does this mean for the future of travel? According to Jonas Nilsen, MD and co-founder of Practio “we may not have to wait until everyone in the world is vaccinated against the novel coronavirus to travel”. A combination of high levels of vaccination as well as improved testing and measures to track and contain coronavirus could allow people to move around the world more freely. There will likely be restrictions in place for the foreseeable future, but travel without quarantine could become a possibility with the right measures.
Coronavirus travel restrictions need to be lifted
What everyone needs to bear in mind is that individual governments must first formulate plans and implement them before people can travel again. Once the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus is low enough that it is considered manageable, governments will issue guidance on travel, so it is important that you check what current restrictions are in place before booking any holidays.
Can I book holidays for 2021?
This is a difficult question to answer, and the UK government has warned against booking holidays in summer 2021. “It’s impossible to say when exactly you can travel again” Nilsen says, “so the safest choice is to wait for a clear sign from your local government and national health officials before you book your next trip”.
Many parts of the travel industry will not be able to survive the pandemic, predicts Mads Mikkelsen, CEO and co-founder of Practio.
"This will most likely lead to fewer travel options, as smaller destinations won’t be as accessible”. Travel in 2021 will also be moulded by current coronavirus restrictions, with “big cities that used to be overcrowded probably seeing fewer tourists, at least for the near future, while people will most likely prefer the more remote and less crowded destinations”.
This could lead to an increase in demand for small boutique hotels and villas in more secluded areas, rather than big hotels which might have been popular before the pandemic.
Travel may never return to “normal”
It is likely that travel will look very different after the coronavirus pandemic. Once it is safe to travel, there will likely be a boom in international travel, says Mikkelsen, as people will want to reconnect with the world after months spent in isolation. Local travel will increase too, particularly for people who feel safer staying closer to home.
Countries which rely heavily on tourism will probably introduce extra measures to entice travellers back after the pandemic has passed, “offering discounts to encourage people to return to travel and help them recover from the damage that coronavirus has caused”.
Another measure that may become a feature in international travel is vaccine passports (or vaccination certificates) for coronavirus, which may come in a few different types. Once a vaccine for coronavirus is available, you may need a vaccination certificate to travel, in the way that you currently need a yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter certain countries.
Which will be the best countries to travel to?
Some countries have managed to limit the spread of coronavirus more significantly than others, so much so that countries have already taken steps to open up again.
“Considering the positive development in these countries, amongst others, I can imagine they will be ready to open their borders for travellers earlier than others, though there will certainly be some restrictions to this” Nilsen says. It is also likely that the most popular travel destinations will open up earlier than others because people will still perceive them as being safer.