The travel industry has arguably been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, with firms cancelling flights, hotels cancelling bookings and travellers dealing with tight restrictions.
Business has also been hit hard, with conferences, meetings and trade shows being held remotely instead of participants travelling to attend them. At the time of writing (March 2021), travel abroad is illegal for leisure or holiday purposes. You can travel for business purposes, but need to have a justifiable reason for doing so. Here’s how to stay safe if you really must travel for business during the pandemic.
Get familiar with Covid-19 restrictions
This doesn’t just mean restrictions in your own country, but those you are travelling to. Many countries ask for a PCR test to be conducted 72 hours before departure, and may ask for evidence that you have tested negative for Covid-19 at the border before letting you into the country. Government rules are constantly evolving as the pandemic changes, so what applies to one country, may not apply to another. Do your research before setting off and make sure you book relevant PCR tests ahead of your journey. You should also complete the necessary paperwork and pack appropriately, including plenty of sanitising equipment and products.
For instance, if you are travelling to the UK, you should be aware that the travel corridor scheme has ceased. Now, all passengers travelling to the UK need to take a PCR test up to 72 hours before arrival. If you enter the UK after passing through or travelling from a red-list travel ban country, you may need to quarantine in a quarantine hotel for 10 days under government supervision.
If you are entering the UK from a non-red-list country, you will need to spend a full 10 days quarantining at home. For some people, this period of quarantine can be reduced if they opt into the UK government’s Test to Release programme. Under this scheme, passengers pay for a test from a private coronavirus Test to Release provider that has been approved by the UK government. If the test (taken five days into quarantine) is negative, the quarantine period ends.
Take precautions on the plane
In your hand luggage, take hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes for wiping surfaces and your aeroplane seat, as well as toilet handles. Take a bar of hand soap, as well as a few spare face masks and a face shield. Try and eat before you board the plane, so you do not need to take your mask off during the flight to eat. Take food with you in your hand luggage if your flight is over five hours long and you need a snack.
During your flight, wear a face covering, face shield and eye goggles, as this will prevent you from being able to touch your eyes, mouth and nose, which is how the virus can spread easily. Wear your mask continuously throughout the flight, and be sure to wipe down any high-touch surfaces like your seat tray and armrests. Although it is difficult, try to keep a safe 2m distance from other passengers on the flight. Carry tissues with you, and if you do sneeze or cough, wash your hands for 20 seconds afterwards.
As previously mentioned, some countries like the UK have quarantine policies for travellers entering their borders after passing through or visiting a red-list country with a travel ban. You should pack extra clothing and preparations for your potential stay in a quarantine hotel, as you will not be able to leave your room for the stated amount of time that the hotel enforces.
This includes laundry detergent, extra clothing, books and games for entertainment, spare contact lenses, medications, some snacks, and so on. Keep some painkillers and flu medications to hand in your hand luggage, just in case you fall ill during your trip and cannot get to a pharmacy. If you are travelling with children, you will also need toys to keep them entertained, and any medications or items they will need for the extra time they will spend in quarantine.
Clean your room
Whether you are staying in a hotel room or rental accommodation, it is very important that in your hold luggage you have a disinfectant cleaning spray with a high alcohol content. Clean your room/living space upon arrival, before unpacking your things and, if you can, bring your own bedding or towels. Disinfect high touch surfaces like TV remotes, light switches and door handles. Don’t let anyone else into your room during your trip, and order room service if you can, rather than visiting a hotel restaurant where there may be more people. You can also ask your hotel to limit housekeeping visits to stay safe.
While travelling for business can only be done in the most essential circumstances, it’s important to stick to the guidelines, familiarise yourself with the local area and to take all the precautions that you would do at home. This not only ensures your safety but the safety of those around you too.