After the pandemic became front-page news at the beginning of 2020, many of us believed that the subsequent lockdowns and restrictions would be well and truly over by the end of the year. As 2021 rolls in, it seems that these restrictions are more urgent than ever. With new, highly transmissible variants of the coronavirus sweep the world, it seems that we’re in for even stricter restrictions and potentially more lockdowns.
With the UK now seeing a record new cases as of the 29th of December, it seems that the virus will not abate as quickly as hoped, especially with early theories on herd immunity well and truly scuppered. Many people have had to cancel Christmas and New Year trips, all with no foreseeable end in sight and whilst we wait for the vaccines to be rolled out, it’s advised that only the international trips which deemed vital or safe are allowed to be made.
Hotels such as The Montcalm Marble Arch try their best to ensure safety for guests with their Montcalm precautionary measures, but much of the responsibility lies in the hands of the traveller themselves. Is their trip safe for themselves and those around them, and are they prepared to make sacrifices so that they can enjoy their trip without bringing harm? Whether you’re visiting London for work or for family, it’s vital that you understand the restrictions on travel and businesses currently in place. Below is a rundown of what to expect from travel to and from the UK for at least the first leg of 2021.
Where Does The UK Currently Stand On COVID Rates?
The COVID rates in the UK are currently rising, and fast. This means that many customer-facing businesses such as hotels like the Montcalm Marble Arch London and city tourist attractions have had to close their doors or seriously curb the way that they operate. Infection rates in different parts of the UK have varied too, leading to major contrasts in the restrictions enforced on boroughs, regions and counties.
The UK Tier System
These variations have manifested in the form of the UK tier system. Unlike other countries that have reimposed national lockdowns, the UK has opted for a four-tier system. These tier levels are designated to different parts of the country depending on the COVID infection rates there. Other factors include the footfall, transport links and population density in the areas.
Tier 1 is the lowest of the restrictions, meaning that you can meet up to 6 different people from different households both inside and outside whilst also being allowed to visit pubs and restaurants with different households. These lower-tier restrictions still instruct people to socially distance and regularly wash their hands but with the medium level alert, give people a little more freedom to mix with other households.
Tier 2 restrictions still allow different households to meet up outside and only two households to meet up inside customer-facing businesses such as restaurants, museums and bars but restricts people from meeting up inside other people’s houses. The rule of six still applies, unless you are two households meeting up with numbers larger than six.
Tier 3 takes the household meeting restrictions a step further and means that you can only meet people from outside of your household in public gardens, parks or sports grounds. Most customer-facing businesses must not allow different households inside venues, and to buy alcohol, one must also have a substantial meal.
In tier 4, most public-facing businesses must cease to operate, except for vital services such as food shops and pharmacies. You can only meet one other person from outside your household in public spaces and must strictly adhere to social distancing measures. As of the beginning of 2021, much of the UK, up to two-thirds of it including London, are now facing tier 4 level restrictions.
As it stands, much of Northern Ireland is facing a national lockdown. This means that people in the affected areas are restricted from socialising with other households and cannot visit tourist attractions, pubs or restaurants. Businesses must cease to operate and travel outside of your area is restricted. Whilst none of England or London is currently under lockdown rules, the surprise circuit breaker lockdown of November doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen again in the new year if the infection rate keeps on rising.
Travelling From The UK
Whether returning from your London city break in the UK or a work trip to Manchester, there is a lot of restrictions on flights to many parts of the world. This has been put in place to stem the international spread of the new coronavirus variant and to ensure that cases do not rise in localities.
Flight corridors are international rules that are governed by the spread of the coronavirus. These flight corridors change almost daily, depending on the spread, and mean that there are some countries that don’t allow flights or travel from the UK and vice versa, meaning that you might have to change your travel plans to connect through neighbouring countries so that you reach your destination. Make sure to keep an eye on updates by searching “flight corridors from the UK” online.
Quarantining upon arrival might mean that your 2 night London hotel deal may very well turn into a 2 week one. Whilst some countries are banning travel to others entirely, many are imposing a self-isolation period of up to 2 weeks for any newcomers from a high COVID rate country to a lower one. This is a rather large window of staying in one room, so make sure that you have factored in the quarantine.
The UK allows travellers entering the country who must self-isolate to request a COVID test upon arrival. This means that instead of waiting around for 2 weeks before you are free to carry on about your business, you instead need only wait for your COVID test results to come back, hopefully negative!