Travel during lockdown

Travel, at the best of times, takes a lot of planning, organisation and time. Throw a pandemic into the mix, and you’ve got a bit more to consider.

Prior to the pandemic, the team at Tenacity Works travelled extensively in support of client projects all over the world. As local and international destinations begin to tentatively reopen, we wanted to learn more about the pros and cons of travelling in late 2020. So, we spoke to a handful of people in the UK and South Africa who have done it.

In this article, we share some of the experiences and frustrations these intrepid travellers faced and discover whether or not they’ll be packing their bags again anytime soon.

So, how has travel changed in the last few months?

From mandatory face masks to frequent temperature checks and hand sanitising, there have been a few widely known changes to travel. 

Accommodation

Let’s face it, everyone loves going away and booking into a hotel. But during COVID, things were a little, well, weird! 

While hotels didn’t seem all that different than before, a few changes were evident. The main ones being lower rates, additional and more thorough cleaning processes and less of their unfriendly hotel policies i.e. allowing guests to cancel their rooms without a penalty. 

Strangely enough, most of our survey participants preferred to stay in guesthouses; the appeal of supporting a small business being the biggest factor in their decision.

Quarantine

Surprisingly, only one of our participants required mandatory quarantine (or self-isolation). She was a South African repatriating from America and had to stay in a hotel in Johannesburg for ten days. 

Even though the room came with a kitchen, courtesy meals were delivered to her three times a day. Online food deliveries were allowed, but alcohol consumption was strictly prohibited for the duration of her stay. A COVID test was offered to her upon check-out but she declined as she showed no symptoms and felt healthy. 

Flying

The feedback from our survey showed that 70% of the people we polled had flown during the lockdown period. 

South Africa was the only country requiring permits for travel in and around the country. Luckily the process to obtain them was easy, but officials weren’t always clear on the intent. 

One South African stated: “The process was simple enough. Unfortunately, no one knew what the travel permits were about, or what it should include. The police were clearly in over their heads and the people checking the permits at the airport didn’t bother to read them. They didn’t even ask any questions.”

We also learnt that both countries had limited services available on flights. These included the self-scanning of tickets before boarding, no catering during flights, and passenger movement restricted to lavatory use only.

Responses were varied on whether travellers felt safe while travelling: 

  • 90 % of South Africans said that they did, while only
  • 20% of British travellers felt the same.

As a British traveller revealed: “We were instructed by the airline to disembark two rows at a time to minimise contact with other passengers. But then at the airport, we were forced together to wait for our luggage. It made no sense.”

So, what can South Africans expect with regards to International Travel from 1 October 2020?

According to southafrica.to, we can expect the following:

  • International travel is allowed to and from certain countries. Our government will compile a list of countries deemed too high risk for which travel restrictions will still apply. Similarly, other countries might still have closed borders or have a temporary travel ban in place for South Africa. Travel to all destinations will not be immediately possible.
  • Travellers will require a negative COVID test result no older than 72 hours or will have to quarantine for 14 days. Quarantine is at their own cost.
  • International travellers can only enter at one of the border postings that have remained open during lockdown or at Cape Town International, OR Tambo and King Shaka Airport. 

International airlines have jumped at the opportunity to resume services to South Africa, with KLM being one of the first to announce that they will resume their scheduled services to Cape Town and Johannesburg on 1 October 2020. This will be a gateway for travellers to and from Europe, and we look forward to many airlines announcing the resumption of scheduled services in the coming weeks and days!”

What about Great Britain?

The UK has been a bit more lenient with their travel but has introduced a travel corridor list. 

A travel corridor, also known as an air bridge, allows passengers to travel on certain routes to and from countries and territories with low COVID-19 infection rates. There is no need to self-isolate for 14-days when they return to the UK.

For a full list of countries on the corridor list, we suggest that you visit www.gov.uk.

Conclusion

All in all, it seems that the majority of the surveyed group enjoyed their time away and are keen to do it again soon. Everyone said that they needed a break from their home/work environment to give them back their sanity.

As they say, “a change is as good as a holiday” and with travelling becoming a little easier, a holiday might become a reality sooner than you think.

Photo by Eva Darron on Unsplash

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