2020 will be forever remembered as the year the world shut down. For most of us, it’s the first time we’ve ever experienced anything like this. The year has been difficult for everyone, but it’s been especially tough on businesses, particularly travel businesses like ours. The travel industry has endured a lot in the past year – we’re still trying to get our heads around it! So, below we have listed some of 2020’s major stories regarding travel. We hope that from now, things can only get better.
President Trump and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) bars entry into the United States to all foreign nationals who recently visited China
January 31st – The US became the first country to ban all foreign nationals who recently visited china from entering the country. At this point, the World Health Organization (WHO) had not yet declared the outbreak as a pandemic, but a global emergency. The travel ban and quarantine period was viewed as controversial at the time, but most other countries followed suit shortly after.
Cruise ship passengers quarantined at sea
20 February – WHO announced that more than half the known cases of COVID-19 in the world outside China were on a single ship: The Diamond Princess. The ship was stuck in quarantine in Japan with more than 3700 people on board. Hundreds of passengers had become sick and were confined to their cabins, forbidden to leave until they received a negative test result. By March, it was evident that this disaster was no isolated incident and many more cruise ships were docked and locked down.
Europe locks down and closes borders
March 10th – As one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, Italy became the first country to impose a national lockdown and close its borders. Other European countries followed suit just days after. With borders closed and countries even banning inbound and outbound flights, millions of travellers were stranded abroad for weeks.
Mandatory facial coverings on air travel
May – Most major airlines introduced new health and safety measures throughout the month of May, the primary measure being mandatory facial coverings. Both crew and passengers are now required to wear face coverings throughout the whole travel journey, including inside airports. Aside from this, social distancing was also introduced on some air crafts by blocking the middle or isle seat.
June 8th – Anyone arriving in the UK were asked to quarantine for 14-days or risk a £1000 fine. It’s argued that the Government enforced this rule too late as several other countries enforced a mandatory quarantine period long before.
Air corridors are introduced
3rd July – The UK Government announced that ‘air corridors’ would be introduced, meaning people returning from certain countries where the risk of importing COVID-19 is low would not be required to self-isolate upon return. This was the first glimmer of hope for the travel industry and many Brits still managed to squeeze in a Summer holiday. However, since then, most countries have been removed from the air corridor list.
August – By August, several countries required all travellers arriving from high-risk countries to present a negative COVID-19 test result. As it stands, if travellers do not meet COVID-19 entry requirements for the country they are travelling to, they could be denied boarding and/or be subjected to health assessments upon arrival.
Rapid testing at Heathrow
20th October – Passengers flying from Heathrow to Hong Kong became the first to have the option of paying for a rapid Covid test before checking in. Not long after, British Airways and its US partner, United Airlines, announced that it would start testing passengers flying from New York and Los Angeles to London’s Heathrow Airport for COVID-19 in an effort to persuade the British government to scrap the 14-day quarantine rule.
Test to Release Scheme
24th November – The UK Government announced a new testing strategy for international arrivals. Now, anyone arriving in England who needs to self-isolate can pay for a test and take the test 5 full days after they left the country, territory or region not on the travel corridors list. A negative test result will enable them to cease self-isolating.
Christmas travel plans are cancelled
19th December – Boris Johnson decides to cancel Christmas at the last minute, moving most of the south of England in to Tier 4, whilst Nicola Sturgeon announced Level 4 lockdown for mainland Scotland from Boxing Day. Several airlines cancelled flights, leaving thousands alone in the UK for Christmas. A strict travel ban between Scotland and the rest of the UK is in place.
It goes without saying, but 2020 was an eventful year. However, with vaccines now approved and vaccinations about to take place, 2021 should be a better year for travel. We are hopeful for international travel to return by late Spring or early Summer 2021.
At Best of Scotland Holidays, we are working with clients to reschedule trips affected by the pandemic. We’re also accepting new holiday bookings for Summer/Winter 2021/22.