Q&A: Where can I still travel under the new coronavirus tier system? | Trip

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On Monday, the UK government introduced a new three-tier system of local Covid alert levels in England. This means that different areas have different restrictions. The new English levels are medium (level 1), high (level 2) and very high (level 3). Level 1 continues with the rules entered on September 25, including the rule of six and the 10pm closure for pubs and restaurants. Level 2, which will soon include almost half of England’s population, prohibits mixing within households. Level 3 (currently the Liverpool area and parts of Lancashire) closes all pubs that do not serve ‘substantial’ meals and advises people not to travel or foreigners to stay in the area.Meanwhile, Wales bans visitors to Covid hotspots (i.e. anyone living on level 2 or 3) from Friday evening, while Scotland advises against traveling in or out of areas at high risk. Under the new Northern Ireland rules, most hotels are closed and “no unnecessary travel should be undertaken”.

Which areas are part of level 2?
Level 2 currently covers large parts of the Midlands, North East and North West England, including the areas around Newcastle, Tyneside and Manchester, as well as Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham. From midnight Friday they will be joined by London, parts of Cumbria, Essex, Derbyshire, Surrey and Yorkshire, meaning that more than half of the English population will be living with Level 2 or 3 restrictions. government zip code tells you which areas are in which level.

Can I travel to other parts of the UK if I live in a level 2 region?
Yes. You can still go on vacation in most areas, but only with people from your household or bubble. The Level 2 guidelines suggest that people aim to “cut down on the number of trips you take when possible.” Visitors to Wales are banned from Covid hotspots elsewhere in the UK on Friday evening. This means anyone from level 2 and 3 regions of England, Northern Ireland and the Scottish Central Belt. In Scotland, until at least Monday 26 October, residents of the central belt areas are advised to limit travel.

What about days in level 2 zones?
Many tourist attractions have introduced reservation systems and some have reduced their opening hours, but most are open again and pleasantly uncrowded. Like everywhere, restaurants and bars now have to close at 10 p.m. and often need to be reserved in advance as they limit the number. But, as long as you only visit as a family group (or keep six outside), you can still go and spend a day in the Level 2 areas.

What if I don’t want to travel? Can I get a refund?
It varies. Some hotels and independent companies offer refunds; others offer a credit score or new dates. Under the new system, most venues are still open and bookable, so customers may be liable for cancellation fees. In many cases, owners agree to let vacationers defer or reimburse, but they are not obligated to do so. While the ban on visiting Wales is legally enforceable, the restrictions in England (even for level 3) are only guidelines.

Alistair Handyside of the Professional Association of Self-Employed (PASC) points out that in the current situation, English law leaves a lot of gray areas. The number one question, he says, from people booking accommodation these days is, “What if I have to cancel?” He advises people to read the T & Cs carefully and purchase travel insurance if they can. Some insurance companies offer coronavirus coverage (for example, to help you if you contract the virus after booking), but generally cannot cover the cancellation of your trips if they are not legally impossible. Handyside points out that self-catering is a relatively safe industry and that PASC cleaning protocols have been downloaded over 100,000 times. With the number of cancellations, he adds, there are “very good places available”.

Mike Bevens, general manager of glamping site Canopy & Stars, says that so far this year the company has been able to change more than 90% of its bookings for stays affected by the coronavirus. They advise people to check their own local restrictions and those of the area they hope to visit before booking. If the rules change, they can probably suggest a date change. If this proves impossible, they can consider other options, which could include a refund.

What about travel abroad from a level 2 zone?
Yes, you are still allowed to go on vacation abroad. But it’s complicated. The government travel corridor lists countries that you can still fly to that do not require quarantine upon your return. At the time of going to press, there are only four countries that UK travelers can visit without self-quarantine on their return. More importantly, the only places the British don’t need to isolate themselves on arrival are: Gibraltar, Greece and Sweden. In Germany, tourists from several parts of the UK are supposed to self-isolate, but could be allowed to travel freely after a negative test result.

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