Could we be about to resume where we left off, having pressed the pause button on all but essential international travel? It felt as if Christmas had come early when there was a Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough in November, and hopes are rising still with the start of a global immunization programme.
While inoculation is being heralded as the biggest step towards regaining our previous travel freedoms, there has been other positive news that will impact the international relocation sector. In a move to support jobs and the economy, England’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced that ‘high value’ business travellers who arrive into England after 5th December 2020 will no longer have to self-isolate if they return from a country not on the Government’s travel corridor list. Although there are caveats, the new rule applies to senior figures of multinational firms visiting English branches of their business and foreign companies planning to invest and create jobs.
For everyone else travelling from a destination that’s not on the English Government’s safe travel corridor list, a new ‘Test and Release’ system will allow many relocators to slash the time they spend in self-isolation on arrival. From 15th December 2020, those disembarking will have the option of taking a Covid-19 test – which can be pre-booked before travel – after just five days in self-isolation. If the result is negative, the traveller is free to go about their business.
As a result of these new developments, it is forecast that there will be an increase in flights between London and other leading business hubs, such as New York, Zurich, Frankfurt and Paris. In fact, even before the quarantine-free business travel announcement and vaccine breakthrough, airlines were gearing up for an uplift in flight activity.
Virgin Atlantic has already begun trialling rapid pre-flight antigen testing for those using its Heathrow to Barbados route, in the hope it will lead to more US destinations opening their borders to UK travellers. Virgin is also joined by British Airways, American Airlines, United and Delta, who all have their own testing programmes in trial. Elsewhere, Emirates Airline had reopened travel to 104 cities, with 151 of its Boeing 777 aircraft back operation.
And it’s not just those travelling to London who are receiving a timely boost. International ‘travel bubbles and air bridges’ are beginning to form around the globe, making it easier to cross countries for professional reasons. Singapore and China have opened a ‘fast lane’ for essential business travel and official trips, as well as a safe travel corridor installed between Spain and Germany. It is also thought Australia, Thailand and Indonesia are all exploring the idea of reactivating travel links to countries including New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan and a selection of Middle East destinations.
Travel agreements between countries, however, can change with very little notice – sometimes overnight – and even by the time you read this, the arrangements listed above may be out of date. Therefore it’s always best to seek official Government advice from both the country someone is leaving and the country they are travelling to before firm plans are made.
Our agents are monitoring the situation on an hourly basis from their positions across the globe, working on short-term and more permanent accommodation plans for those who may face disruption or need to self-isolate. If you’d like to know the latest travel advice and whether a journey constitutes permissible business travel, please contact Klippa Relocation.