Travel & Tourism in the UK During COVIDOctober 12, 2020 | By Nafeesah Allen
In 2018, almost 38 million tourists visited the United Kingdom. This year has had its fair share of challenges in reaching those numbers, but the U.K. is increasingly opening to global travelers. If a visit to London or Dublin is in the cards for this year, you must be sure to stay up on the latest guidance and be prepared for fast-moving changes.
Travel to the UK
Not only will you have to consider airline regulations, but you will need to check where your citizenship or trip origin fits into the U.K. Travel Corridors policy. This policy determines if you must self-quarantine, are on the “safe list,” or are obliged to use the Passenger Locator Form. Also, the United Kingdom is more than just England, which has its own particular guidance. But, there are specific rules for Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
Where to Stay
The hospitality sector has been hit hard across the United Kingdom. So, it is no wonder that the government and the hotel operators have been quick to establish safety policies to get more people across the pond. Guidelines are stringent though. Most hotels leave rooms empty for 48-72 hours between guests and deep cleanings are now standard. Tourists have responded with longer stays at B&B style properties, particularly in sea- and country-side destinations. Under the Doormat, One Fine Stay, and Love Home Swap are proving quite popular for long-term renters who plan to hunker down in the U.K.
If you have your heart set on major tourist attractions, please double and triple-check their COVID admissions policies. London has implemented social distancing rules to minimize crowds. Walk-ins are a thing of the past. You must pre-book for the London Eye and the British Museum. In Wales, Caernarfon Castle has limited hours and bookings must be made in advance online. Cardiff Castle has moved all of its events to summer 2021. In Ireland, you’ll have to wait a wee bit longer to see Dublin Castle and the Guinness Storehouse, as both are still closed.
One of England’s favored advantages is its fantastic public transportation system, but the pandemic requires particular precautions. Ventilation is key, so if you can take a bike or walk, experts say it is best to choose those over other options with crowded or cramped spaces. Otherwise, consider bus transit if windows can be opened and the seating allows for social distancing. It is an unwritten rule to avoid talking while riding the Tube and regional trains, and it is best to avoid touching surfaces that have seen many hands. Masks are required, but some people also use a face shield and lots of hand sanitizer to stay safe. Taxis and car hire companies have also implemented protective measures that are similar to public transportation.
Mind the Curfew
Shutdowns and curfews have become a way of life in most major towns, but they are always in flux. As of today, pubs, restaurants, and bars have a 10 p.m. curfew across England, Scotland, and Wales. Beware that the Brits are not happy about it. They have taken to street parties, which are likely to be shut down. Tourists can avoid tense turf battles by understanding the time restrictions and planning accordingly. As an alternative, meal delivery services and take out are always on the table.