Should I travel during the coronavirus pandemic?

‘Non-essential’ travel bans and social distancing are making it difficult to get around

Should I travel during the coronavirus pandemic?
(Image credit: Getty)

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is making travel almost impossible as governments try to stop it spreading. 

The UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises against all non-essential travel overseas – unprecedented and historic advice – while a travel ban by the European Union now prevents most foreigners entering any of the 27 nations for 30 days. 

Can anyone travel during the ban?

There are some caveats to the EU’s travel ban; long-term EU residents, diplomats, members of European families, health care and transport workers are all exempt from the ban. Trade will continue, too, with fast-track access ‘green’ lanes set-up at border crossings for lorries carrying essential supplies. For example, it’s still possible for lorries to board ferries to and from the continent from the UK. 

Should I travel abroad during the coronavirus outbreak?

The world is entering a temporary lockdown so, for now, private citizens must forget all about travelling abroad from the UK for the next 30 days or so. It’s also getting much harder to get in and out of countries, with some people left stranded abroad as borders close and flights get cancelled. 

What about traveling within the UK?

For now, that’s still possible, though it’s now all about self-isolation for a period. The government is asking everyone in the UK to avoid offices and work from home, avoid cinemas, theatres, pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs, and avoid ‘non-essential’ travel. 

Those in risk groups – people over 70 and those with underlying health conditions – are being asked to stay at home for 12 weeks and strongly advises them against social mixing in the community. Here is the government’s guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK

Can I still go for a walk or a hike? 

That depends on your circumstances and your health. The government is advising household isolation for 14 days if one member of your family or household has a new continuous cough or high temperature) and self-isolation for 7 days if you live alone and you have a new continuous cough or high temperature.  

However, although it’s advising against social mixing in the community for everyone else – i.e. those that are fit, healthy, under the age of 70 and don’t have a new continuous cough or high temperature – it’s fine to go outside and even to travel … but not to ‘socially mix’. 

In fact, the government has specifically said that people can go for a walk outdoors if they stay more than 2 metres from others. That means it’s allowed – for now – to drive into the countryside, go for a long walk or a hike, then drive back home again. 

What about public transport? 

It’s likely that public transport – such as buses and trains – will soon offer very reduced services, so getting around is soon going to be possible only by private car. 

Liked this?

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance journalist, copywriter and author with 20 years' experience. He's written journalism for over 50 publications and websites and, when he's not writing, spending most of his time travelling – putting the latest travel tech through its paces.