UK government publishes new guidance for passengers travelling during pandemic

Jun 12, 2020

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The U.K.’s Department for Transport released new guidance for air passengers on Thursday. Although the FCO still advises against all non-essential international travel, the new measures and advice inform how to travel as safely as possible during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as measures for airlines and airports to put in place for the protection of staff and travellers.

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“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.

If your travel falls into the essential category, make sure to check the restrictions and health requirements of your destination. General advice is to avoid busy times and routes, social distance where possible and maintain a high level of hygiene by regular hand washing or sanitising, as well as the use of face masks.

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

Social distancing

The advice summarises what we know already: social distancing is vital. Travellers are advised to keep two metres away from those not within your household and limit the time spent around other people where possible.

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Hand washing

Make sure to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser at regular intervals throughout the journey. This includes after using high-contact luggage trolly handles, self-service check-in machines and security trays.

Face coverings

Other than for children under the age of three, and for those with disabilities who are unable to wear masks, a face covering should be worn at all times in airports and on planes unless you’re asked to remove by police, border control or airport security. You should bring your own mask, plus spares 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 should 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 depend on the airline, aircraft and maybe the destination you’re flying to. Any specifics should be announced by the crew on board, or in communication by the airline before flying.

Related reading: BA and Virgin join growing list of European airlines asking passengers to wear face masks

As a general rule, passengers should stay seated where possible, follow instructions and use contactless payment. Most airlines will have a limited food and drink service, so remember to pack your own snacks. If you start to feel ill, contact a member of the crew immediately.

The new guidance also outlines extensive protocols for operators in the aviation industry to manage risk and provide safer workplaces for staff. 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.

Featured image by Ben Queenborough/PinPep via Flickr

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