We are now, touch wood, moving towards a position where travel for work and leisure within most countries is returning to the agenda.
With President Biden announcing on 20 September 2021 that the USA will open back up to those travelling from 33 countries, including most of Europe, China and India, it is possible to feel optimistic for the months ahead.
We must of course never lose sight of the fact that this process of opening up is not the case for all and be grateful for the speed of the vaccination roll out across areas such as the European Union and the United Kingdom in allowing this opportunity.
The big caveat is that the global pandemic is far from over and so the position could always change. In parity, the World Health Organisation reported in mid-September 2021 that just 4% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated versus a rate of 65% in the UK.
Example of current travel rules - England
It has been announced in England that from Monday 4 October the rules on travel are simplifying. The impact being that the previous traffic light system will be replaced by a red list. Any country not found on that red list will be considered clear for travel. On top of this, you must always check travel guidance and requirements for the specific destination country to understand what other criteria applies.
In addition, from 4 October, those who are fully vaccinated will not have to take a pre-departure test for their journey into England. It is reported that these measures are anticipated to remain as above for England until at least New Year.
The position in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland differs with some similarites in approach also and so it is advised to check guidelines and requirements in both your country and country of destination. For instance, Scotland and Northern Ireland currently require a PCR test on day two of arrival from travel abroad. In England, vaccinated travellers can now complete a lateral flow or antigen test instead.
In addition to reviewing Covid-19 travel requirements, we must also keep reviewing the position on travel for professional purposes or to work in the European Union. Our guidance note provides insight into how lawyers can work within the EU now the UK is formally a third country.
Overall, taking time to review the position on travel and Covid-19 should be an essential pre-requisite for us all. There is of course optimism that travel is increasing but we should not negate the landscape of increased rules and guidance that must be adhered to within this.