International travel was largely responsible for the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, hence why it’s one of the aspects of life that’s most heavily impacted and restricted. During the worst hours of the pandemic, travelling was paralyzed on an international level in an effort to subjugate the virus. It goes without saying that many gallivanting souls have been rendered desperate and craving for a chance to break free from the constant torments of cabin fever stemming from the lockdown.
Fortunately, as the global pandemic is showing signs of abating, it means that God has once again bestowed upon us the uncanny luxury of seeing this wonderful and enigmatic world. Needless to say, many are once again getting itchy feet. However, the world isn’t the same anymore. That is a euphemism for “everything has changed”, including travelling on any level. So, before anyone lets their wanderlust get the better of them, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that everyone must be over prepared when it comes to travelling, so that nothing may go awry.
That’s where we come in, as your trustworthy partner, who have diligently gathered all the necessary info for your eventual venture. You may want to go, but you may not know when you can go, where to go to, what it takes, who is allowed to, and most importantly, how to go. Worry not as we have got you covered, with our article today covering the bare minimum you must know should you embark on a journey.
Down here, we’ll provide answers to some of the most piping hot questions regarding travelling abroad right now.
Why travelling abroad?
Probably the most glossed over question, but it's imperative that we think through why, admits this rampaging pandemic, even though it’s on the wane, that we even consider travelling abroad.
Please carefully contemplate both personal and non-personal reasons.
Many researches have been carried out and they all point to the same conclusion: the pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health. According to this extremely elaborated report from KLL of a research published earlier this year, the cases of mental-related disorders and substance abuse was considerably higher during the pandemic. Most notably, the increase in suicide ideation and suicide cases was particularly pronounced in all communities. That goes to show you how negatively the pandemic has impacted us.
Image from KFF’s report.
With that in mind, one should think about how they’ve been faring during the pandemic. If lockdown has been a pleasant time which you get to spend with your family and yourself, then even if you really want to you shouldn’t really take to the road. However, if lockdown has been anything but kind to you, and you feel like your mental stability is getting worse day by day, then perhaps, within the boundaries of safety protocols, you may need to get out of the house and travel.
For those who have decided whether they will travel or not, they raise the question of travelling domestically or internationally.
It’s a fact that many countries depend heavily on tourism for their GDP. These countries, which oftentimes are archipelagos and islands, the Maldives for example, gain more than 50% of its GDP from tourism. The distressing part is, since they really don’t have anything much to rely on other than magnificent beaches and pristine natural landscapes, once people stop paying to see those things it won't take long until a national crisis occurs.
On that note, it’d be reasonable for us to travel to those countries, especially as they are reopening their borders. It’d also be of great help to the transportation industry who has also incurred the wrath of the COVID. It should benefit you financially as well as governments are kickstarting tourism stimulation programmes in hope of boosting their gasping tourism industries.
When can we travel abroad?
NOW! Yes, right now! On November 1, 2021, the red list (the list of countries that you cannot visit) has been cleared, which means that, as of the time of this article, you can virtually visit anywhere on the planet. Of course, provided that you meet every safety requirement and follow every procedure required.
Keep in mind though, that this red list will be revised and renewed every three weeks, and upon such revision new regulations could be imposed at any given moment. So keep abreast of government’s websites to ensure you know full well where you can actually set foot on.
Who is allowed to travel abroad?
Nothing matters anymore if you aren’t qualified for travelling abroad. First, you need to make sure that you are legally allowed to travel.
The NHS COVID Pass is required, more on it below. People above 18 are clear to travel as long as they have the NHS COVID Pass and have followed all the procedures and meet all the requirements (read more about this on gov.uk).
NHS COVID Pass on the NHS app. Image from Politico Europe.
For children under the age of 4, there are no required COVID travel tests.
There are however, for children from age 5 to 17. They don’t have to take any test before travelling to England. However, they must take one on returning to the country, and they must take it within the first two days.
What do you need to travel abroad?
You’d need a vaccine passport.
What is it to be exact? Whereas the normal passport allows you to pass country borders, the vaccine passport allows you to pass the anti-COVID borders. In essence, it proves your immunity status as well as your ability to safely travel in a community without carrying or risk contracting the virus.
In the UK, it comes in the form of the NHS app. It includes all the information regarding your vaccination records and tests. You will have to download the app and then register your NHS number for it to work.
However, in order to obtain this NHS COVID PASS, you must first receive:
- Two jabs of one of the vaccines below: Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Pfizer.
- If you take the Janssen vaccine, you’d only need one jab.
- As for those who have contracted and recovered from the virus, you must have an immunity test result for COVID-19, which must last for 180 days following home isolation.
It’s important to note that you must receive any of the above vaccines in England, Scotland, or Wales. However, should you receive your vaccination in Scotland, you must be both:
- an England resident.
- registered with GP surgery in England.
Generally, it wouldn’t take more than a day to get your NHS COVID Pass once you’ve registered. But keep in mind that, sometimes the system would need up to 5 days to update your status and records.
What if I cannot get the vaccines?
In the off chance where you aren’t medically clear for vaccination, there are ways to circumvent such problems.
NHS COVID Pass does give some leeway only for those who cannot receive vaccination for medical reasons. You’d need to apply for proof that your medical condition prevents you from receiving vaccination or any kind of COVID test. Find you how to fetch one yourself here. Once you obtain this, the NHS app will update and then it can be used like intended.
The list of reasons is short, however. Below are some of the examples of conditions that may result in a medical exemption:
- If you’re in your latter stage of life and getting vaccination isn’t among your list of priorities.
- If you’re suffering the following: learning disabilities, autism, or a combination of impairments that prevents them from possibly receiving the vaccine.
- If you’re severely allergic to any of the currently available vaccines.
- If the first dose of vaccine you take has brought about tremendous adverse reactions.
Medical exemptions could also be given to those suffering other medical conditions. Short-term exemption is also a possible option for those who are suffering short-term conditions. Visit the UK’s official Government Website for further information.
Where can we visit?
It’d be most reasonable and most recommendable to travel within the border of the United Kingdom, which means that anywhere in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales would be a safe bet.
However, as of November 1st, all countries have been classified as non-red, meaning you can go anywhere now. However, within these non-red destinations there are still green and amber places. Green indicates that such places are well-nigh safe to travel to and from, whilst amber insinuates certain risk involved. Check and make sure you are well aware of which type of country that you’re travelling to.
“This is not a drill.
This is not the time to give up.
This is not a time for excuses.
This is a time for pulling out all the stops.”
That was what Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) had to say about the pandemic. Every government is doing their absolute best to accommodate everyone amid this global crisis. As such, they have imposed quite a few safety protocols to ensure the safety of their citizens. And, as a responsible citizen yourself, the least you could do is to abide by all these protocols and guidelines. So remember to be responsible and do everything you are required, as you’re lending a hand in the global effort to bring back the “old normal”, the world where we could roam worry-free.