What happens if I test positive for Covid while on holiday?

Published on The Times digital on 21st December 2021

Travelling during the pandemic is full of uncertainties. Even if you’ve booked your trip at the last minute, your travel plans could still be disrupted by a pre-travel Covid test that comes back positive unexpectedly. And with the Omicron variant on the rise and testing before entering the UK now compulsory, the chances of disruption are higher than ever. With that in mind, here’s what to do if you catch Covid before you travel or while on holiday.

Many destinations still require a negative Covid test before you travel, even if you are fully vaccinated. If you test positive just before you set off, you will have to self-isolate immediately even if you’re not showing any symptoms. You may not have to cancel your trip though — depending on who you booked your holiday with, you may be able to rebook the trip for another date or ask for a refund. It’s best to check the terms and conditions on your booking and speak to your travel provider first.

Be aware that changing your travel plans at the very last minute may mean additional costs, even if you are able to move the booking to another date. It may be possible to recover some of these costs through your travel insurance — double check the terms of your policy to see if it’s included.

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Which holiday companies offer flexible booking policies?

Published on The Times digital on 13th December 2021

The constantly changing travel restrictions mean that booking a holiday these days is fraught with uncertainty. Choosing a package holiday, paying with a credit card and having the right travel insurance can all reduce the chances of you being left out of pocket by last-minute changes. But now, more and more holiday companies are introducing flexible booking as standard, which can go a long way towards relieving the stress of travelling during a pandemic.

With a flexible booking you can change or cancel your holiday free of charge relatively close to your travel date. This means that if travel restrictions change and you no longer want to travel, you can move the trip to another date without worrying about losing your deposit or being charged a hefty penalty. Any change or cancellation must be made within a certain time frame before travel and if prices are higher on your new travel dates you usually have to pay the difference.

Before the pandemic, some holiday firms offered flexible booking as a premium option for which you had to pay extra; now many companies are offering it as part of the default terms and conditions. It makes a welcome change, as instead of waiting for the travel firm to cancel before you get a refund, flexible booking policies mean you can move the travel dates or cancel the trip according to your needs. Always check the small print when you book though, as every holiday company has different rules and some travel firms will only offer flexible booking on selected trips.

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How to stay safe on a flight

Published on The Times digital on 9th December 2021

On the face of it, flying seems to contravene every bit of advice around Covid safety. You have 100 or more people in a confined space, and there’s almost no social distancing. So just how safe is it to fly and how do you protect yourself from catching Covid? Here’s what you need to know.

Like any other activity that brings you into contact with other people at close quarters, there’s a risk of catching Covid on flights, particularly when you factor in the journey to the airport and time spent inside the terminal.

While there is no definitive statistic on the likelihood of catching Covid on a flight — as the risk depends on local infection rates and what pre-boarding safety measures, such as testing, are in place — there are multiple incidences where it has happened. For example, in one paper published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, the US Centers for Disease Control’s journal, one or two infected passengers were thought to have infected four others during an 18-hour flight from Dubai to New Zealand, despite all having tested negative for Covid pre-departure.

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Will I need a booster jab to travel abroad?

Published on The Times digital on 30th November 2021

A growing number of countries are now requiring visitors to show proof of a Covid booster jab as part of their entry requirements. Without one, you may have to pay for additional Covid tests, quarantine or even be barred from entry. Here’s what you need to know.

Whether or not you need a booster jab to travel depends on the destination.

Some countries have already introduced an expiry date on vaccine validity, which can be extended by getting an additional dose of an accepted vaccine. In France, from December 15, over 65s will need to show they’ve had a booster jab to extend their vaccine validity and access the country’s “pass sanitaire”.

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Does my Covid vaccine passport expire?

Published on The Times digital on 19th November 2021

Having both doses of your vaccine has fast become the norm for bypassing quarantine and even a Covid test before travel. And yet, just as things are beginning to gain a semblance of normality, a handful of countries are now tightening their travel restrictions by putting an expiry date on vaccine validity.

It means that to be recognised as fully vaccinated, you’ll need to have received the required dosage of an accepted vaccine within the last 12 months, or have had a booster jab within a specific time frame.

This new trend began with Croatia, which updated its entry requirements in July 2021. Austria followed suit in August, and now Israel and Switzerland have both introduced similar restrictions. And as more countries weigh up whether their own citizens will require a booster jab, it’s feasible that the trend will continue to snowball. Here’s what you need to know.

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