The UK might be a small collection of islands compared to other countries, but what with its 2 millennia of history, thriving arts and culture and its diverse and beautiful landscapes, the British Isles promises a wealth of experiences for the adventurous tourist. This is still the case during the COVID pandemic, which might have brought much of the world’s economy to a standstill, but has seen UK travellers the chance to think outside the box.
Of course, we all have to take heed of the ever-important COVID safeguarding rules, and the UK’s currently complex system of local lockdowns and tier designations means that you’ll have to plan that little bit extra when embarking on a road trip or sightseeing holiday across the country. With that in mind, this guide gives you a breakdown of how to navigate a COVID era road trip across the country, taking into account the fluid status of UK counties, hygiene strategies such as the Montcalm care protocol and how to get the most out of the country without breaking these rules and safeguards.
A Breakdown Of The UK Tier System
The UK has developed it’s own unique regulations for stemming the infection rate of COVID 19. Local lockdowns and tiered systems have been implemented throughout England with an eye on suppressing the R rate of the virus. This has resulted in varying degrees of effectiveness, which in recent days has meant that there will be a second lockdown over the month of November 2020. However, we will be faced with coronavirus for longer than this second lockdown, so it’s a good idea for any visitors to understand how the tier system works in the UK.
Tier 1 is designated for medium risk areas and is the first port of call for areas that could be affected by COVID. Tier 1 rules allow you to meet up to 6 people indoors and outdoors, as well as allowing for the use of all public transport as long as you wear a facemask. Under Tier 1 rules, you can stay overnight in other houses and accommodation and you’ll find that bars, restaurants and hotels such as The Montcalm Marble Arch will be allowed to stay open and unrestricted in its access, as long as they close by 10 pm.
Tier 2 restrictions allow you to meet and socialise with up to 6 people outside of your house, as long as you meet outside. Furthermore, you can only visit pubs and restaurants with people from within your household in groups of no more than 6, and if you’re planning on attending a wedding or other event in an indoor space, the Tier 2 rules mean there can only be 15 guests in total.
Tier 3 is the strictest of the tier systems and represents the response to a very high alert level. Tier 3 rules include stricter regulations on pubs and restaurants, meaning that they must serve food and only be open till 10 pm. The same rule of six and social bubble etiquette applies during tier 3, but the closures of venues, shops, restaurants and other public-serving businesses may be closed by the local authorities if necessary.
Local and nationwide lockdowns effectively pause regulations and systems such as the Montcalm cleanliness strategy, implementing large scale shutdowns of the economy and how we interact with people outside of our households. Lockdowns mean that you cannot socialise inside or outside with anyone outside your household and that all but shops selling the necessities will be closed.
Track And Trace
The NHS track and trace app is a digital tool that helps you keep tabs on your risk and exposure to the COVID 19 virus. You must use the app to book into any public-facing restaurants, bars or venues, meaning that your visit is recorded and meaning you will be notified if it is thought you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. These free apps will also indicate whether you need to self isolate or get tested due to recent exposure. If you’re visiting the UK, it is advised that you download this app as it will make your visit that little bit simpler and easier to navigate.
Keep A Facemask And Hand Sanitiser Handy
Make sure to pack at least one or two facemasks for your trip. You’ll need to use them on a daily basis. Also, make sure that you have easy access to hand sanitiser. Whilst most shops, bars and weekend spa break hotels installing their own hand sanitisation stations, it’s always a good idea to pack your own portable dispensers.
Research The Area You’re Visiting
Unless under a national lockdown, different areas of England will be enforcing different tiers of COVID restrictions. This means that some of the services and attractions you might have wanted to visit during your trip may be closed when you get there. If you are travelling by train or car to different areas of the country during your UK visit, make sure that you have researched the restrictions that have been imposed on your destinations, so as to prepare, avoid disappointment or indeed make alternative plans.
Cease Your Journey If You’ve Tested Positive
If you’ve tested positive for coronavirus during or before your trip to England, then you’ll have to cease travelling immediately and find somewhere to self isolate for two weeks. This is to avoid spreading the virus and anyone who fails to do this may risk a hefty fine in the UK.
Avoid Public Transport Where Possible
Whilst the Montcalm precautionary measures mean that infection rates are kept down in London hotels, you can’t be sure of the same on public transport services. The London underground, national rail and bus services are all hotbeds for virus spreading. It is advised that whatever tier the area you’re in is under, you should try to avoid using public transport unless for work or completely necessary.
There’s More Than Just London!
Remember, there’s a lot of the UK to see. London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world but is just one of the many destinations in England that you can visit as a tourist. Others indeed may be more COVID friendly.