Green may mean go but…

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Holidays on the horizon?

The publicity surrounding the possibility of summer holidays fails to mention the actual additional costs of leaving the UK for essential documented travel now, of entering the country of choice, and of returning back to England. This article is an attempt to unravel the guidance, regulations and costs involved in travel abroad as they are today, April 6.  However, you must have a reasonable excuse to leave the UK. Clearly, travel for holidays is forbidden at present.

It is reported (prime minister’s press conference April 5) that if limited international travel opens up after May 17, there will be a traffic light system and even” green list” countries will still need a Covid-19 test before departure  and two on returning, though no quarantine. (Reference also The Times, Tuesday April 6 2021 p.7) so the information here is still of relevance.

First steps

At the moment, the first thing to think about is travel insurance and possibly a review of the medical care systems at the destination, should any medical emergency arise. The costs of private travel insurance vary enormously from company to company and are age and health status dependant.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) remains valid until the expiry date, when a UK Global Health Insurance Card will have to be applied for. Go to the NHS website and type EHIC in the search box. It may also be worth checking the rate of Covid-19 infections and deaths at the destination to fully understand the risk there.

Entry requirements for the destination country 

The second task is to check what the entry requirements are for the destination. To help, there is an actual example

An example of entry requirements: So, one particular Caribbean island requires a Covid-19 PCR test carried out by a health professional not more than 72 hours before arrival at the destination. In this particular example, no friends or relatives are able to collect from the airport, only government authorised taxis are allowed, and incoming passengers have to go into quarantine in an approved facility for a specified period.

Pre-departure requirements in England: Pre-departure,  a Covid-19 test is required from a private provider up to 72 hours before leaving. This costs between £120 and £200. So, if you are travelling on a Friday, a test is needed on the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday for the Friday travel.

Booking a travel test package: Pre-departure, a travel test packages which includes Covid-19 tests after return on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine must be booked and paid for. The test package and the providers and prices can be found at www.gov.uk  Prices vary from £170 to £549. Having followed all of this in order to get out of England, there are requirements before return.

Returning to England

All people returning to the UK are required to self isolate for 10 days unless they are in an exempted category. If returning from a banned country, quarantine takes place in a designated hotel.

What do you have to do?  Arrange to take another Covid-19 test at the place of stay in the three days before you start the journey home. In the example of the Caribbean, this costs US$200.

Next, fill in a passenger locator form online with the details of where you will be self-isolating. This form needs the test package booking reference number, which is why the test package has to be booked and paid for before you leave England.

Arriving in England, travel to the quarantine address directly and do not leave until 10 days have passed.  There is a fast track 8 day option. See www.gov.uk  search: travel abroad: step by step.

If returning from a banned country, hotel quarantine is required.

Approximate costs of the example:
Covid-19 PCR test 3 days before departure, by a health professional. £200.00
Travel test package £300.00
Taxi from destination airport to hotel ($100) £72.00
Covid-19 test to return home ($200.00)  from destination £145.00
Total: £717.00

Costs and length of approved hotel stay in example country: Not known, will vary.

Obviously, all costings are subject to update and change, but this gives some idea of the additional costs to be considered even if government ministers give the go ahead, however limited, for travel after May 17, and what essential documented approximate travel costs are now.

Image Credits: Gillian Roder .

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