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UK Government issues new Guidance for travel during the Pandemic

Although the Foreign and Commonwealth Office still advises against all non-essential international travel, the U.K.'s Department of Transport released new guidance on Thursday for passengers who need to travel during the Pandemic. These measures are designed to inform airlines and airports the measures that they need to put in place for the protection of staff and travellers as well as offering updated guidance for passengers.

“The government’s advice currently remains to avoid all non-essential travel, but today we are taking the necessary steps to ensure a framework is in place for the aviation industry to bounce back when it is safe for restrictions on travel to be lifted”, Transport Secretary Grant Schapps said.

Essential Travel

If you need to travel and it falls within the Essential Category, ensure that you double-check the health and travel restrictions of your destination. The general advice is to avoid busy times and routes, maintain social distancing where possible and maintain a high level of hygiene by regular hand washing or sanitising, as well as the use of three layer facemasks.

The government breaks down the following to ensure a safe experience if you do need to travel at this time.

Social Distancing Social Distancing remains vital and travellers are recommended to keep at least two metres away from those not within your household as well as limiting the time spent around other people where possible.

Hand Washing Ensure you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser at regular intervals throughout your journey. This includes after using high-contact items such as luggage trolley handles, self-service check-in machines and security trays.

Face Coverings

Other than for children under the age of three as well as for those with disabilities who are unable to wear masks, a face covering should be worn at all times inside airports and on aircraft unless you’re asked to remove by police, border control or airport security. You should bring your own mask, as well as spare masks if possible. Make sure to check if your airline or destination country requires a specific type of mask.

At the Airport

Other than for those providing assistance, only people who are flying are permitted to enter the terminal building. Once inside, avoid unnecessary contact with staff and machines by using airline’s online check-in services where possible and make sure to follow instructions and advice from staff and signs around the airport. It is also advised to check-in all luggage, including hand luggage. Try to avoid mixing with more people than is necessary, follow social distancing measures and if possible, pay by contactless card if making purchases.

On the Aircraft

The requirements for your particular flight will dependent on the airline, aircraft and possibly the destination you’re flying to. Specific instructions should be announced by the crew on board, or by the airline prior to departure.

As a general rule, passengers should stay seated where possible, follow instructions of the crew and use contactless payment. Most airlines will have either a limited or no food and drink service, so remember to pack your own refreshments and snacks. If you start to feel ill, contact a member of the crew immediately.

The new guidance also outlines extensive protocols for aircraft operators to manage risk and provide safer workplaces for their employees. General principles include extensive and improved aircraft cleaning, increasing the availability of hand-washing and hand-sanitising facilities, the reduction of face-to-face interaction between staff and passengers as well as the introduction of how to safely deal with passengers and staff with symptoms.

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