Coronavirus COVID-19

Briefing to members and the travelling public – updated advice

Coronavirus has not gone away, but the world is starting to live with it in opening up travel both domestically and internationally. However additional measures were announced on 27 November 2021 as a result of the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Travel within the UK

Rail travel has resumed for all purposes. From 20 November 2021 wearing a face mask is again compulsory on all public transport, and to enter shops, in all of the United Kingdom. It is stressed that washing hands and wearing your mask correctly is of particular importance.

International Travel from the UK

International travel is firmly back in business to continental Europe and Canada, and more recently the United States. Eurostar is vigorously promoting its core destinations of Paris and Amsterdam, and has increased frequency beyond its original promise to cope with demand. Rules vary by country and are becoming more consistent and stable. However it is prudent to check for changes prior to any journey given the resurgence of Covid cases in some countries.

If you are vaccinated (with booster for older people from 1st December for France, and you want to visit another country you need to:

  • Check foreign travel advice for the countries you want to go to or through.
  • Arrange any required COVID-19 tests you will need to enter the countries to which you will travel
  • Find out if you can use the NHS COVID Pass to prove your vaccination status abroad
  • Check out what you need to do before and after returning to the UK
If you are not vaccinated, there are many additional hurdles, including the possibility of quarantine, and you will not be allowed in restaurants, shops or on main line public transport. Entry will be denied to US and Canada. Personal experience is that these requirements are rigorously enforced. Best just get vaccinated.

Also please don’t forget that many countries outside the EU including the United States and Canada require you to obtain a permission to enter document (ESTA or ETA) and in addition, submit arrivals information.

Returning to the UK

Need to watch this particularly. You must take a Covid-19 test and get a negative result in the two days before you leave for the UK. You also need to complete and submit a Passenger Locator form within 48 hours before you leave for the UK. This requires evidence that you have booked and paid for a Covid-19 PCR test (the cheaper lateral flow test is no longer acceptable), timed before the end of day 2 after you arrive, in the form of the booking reference. It is best to book the test before you go so you have this information ready to go on your Passenger Locator form. You must be fully vaccinated and self-isolate until you have taken the PCR test, then you may leave self-isolation if your PCR result is negative.

General advice. Don’t get caught out with the on line paperwork

The on line documentation is quite complex and needs care. It is fine if you are reasonably familiar with the use of an IPhone or Tablet including uploading documents. There are specific 48 hour time windows for some of this including the Passenger Locator form for return to the UK. If you are not comfortable with doing this the best advice is to ensure you can get help particularly in the 49 hours before you go and the 48 hours before returning.

There are apps such as Verifly which can help with getting all this together although these can be difficult to complete in themselves. Many airlines require this confirmation to check in on line.

If you plan to travel with a tour operator or book through a travel agency, it is important to check and ensure it is properly bonded or ATOL protected and insured, also that that you are properly ensured to avoid being stranded. All operators should be able to produce evidence of this.

Railfuture does not operate foreign tours, and will no longer publish advertisements from any rail or tour operator unable who cannot demonstrate compliance to the above protections for members.

Disclaimer. This advice is provided in good faith to give general information to members with the request to be cautious and to check government requirements. Railfuture does not accept any liability.

Updated 8 December 2021