2020 will undoubtedly go down in History as one of the worst years of the early 21st century for the travel industry. 2021 got better, from an air travel point of view at least, but...
No, you still can't travel if you have COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has hit the tourism industry (especially air travel) harder perhaps harder than any other. Its impact on the sector is felt more than ever now that we’re already halfway through summer.
Governments worldwide have advised their citizens against all but essential international travel, so at this point, it’s normal to wonder whether your travel plans will fall apart should you be tested positive to coronavirus. An increasing number of people have.
Unfortunately, if you’ve been tested positive, face covering and social distancing won’t cut it.
Did you know that you could get compensation for your delayed or cancelled flight?
Can I Travel if I’m Positive to COVID-19?
No, you will not be permitted to travel internationally if you’ve been tested positive to the coronavirus. The objective is, obviously, to try and contain the spread of COVID-19.
After a period of complete lockdown, many authorities opted for strict travel restrictions in order to be able to progressively re-open their border while detecting and handling people as best as possible should they test positive.
Most countries have implemented measures to detect travelers having contracted COVID-19. Some of them require proof that you have been tested and that the results were negative, usually via a PCR test done less than 48h prior to crossing the border. If you’ve been declared positive, not only will you NOT be allowed to travel - you shouldn’t. We invite you to consult your government’s instructions on the coronavirus pandemic but the first thing to do is to self-quarantine.
Other countries won’t request a proof beforehand, but that you submit yourself to a test upon arrival. You may have to self-isolate until confirmation that the test is negative. Should you test positive while abroad, the next course of action will depend on your country of origin and where you’ve been tested: you may be forced to stay in isolation for about two weeks or be allowed on a plane to return to your home country and go into self-isolation there. If you only get tested upon arrival, consider self-isolating even if it’s not made mandatory by local authorities.
Can I Keep Travelling if I Contracted the Coronavirus while Travelling?
Again, no. If you’ve been tested positive while you were abroad, you will have no choice but to quarantine abroad or return to your home country.
If you’ve been travelling by plane, you need to advise the airline and your travel insurance provider of the situation to ensure that you will indeed be allowed on the plane. Due to the complications that travelling with a passenger having contracted the coronavirus by public transport entails, most local authorities instead require you to stay isolated rather than travel immediately back to your country of origin. Assisted departures are only organized under extraordinary circumstances. For your own protection and that of other people, follow local advice.
Should you really find the recommendations of the local authorities inacceptable, you may contact your country’s embassy to get their advice as well.
You may have already made additional reservations, be it for accommodation or for a flight. Since you won’t be able to benefit from their services, contact your airline or accommodation provider and investigate the possibility of getting a refund, or at least a voucher.
Do I have to Self-Isolate if I’m Tested Positive for COVID-19 Abroad?
Local authorities may take measures if there are suspected cases of COVID-19 in your location. Those may indeed include a forced stay at your accommodation or dedicated quarantine facilities for a period of 14 days.
Keep in mind that NOT getting tested in order to avoid the dreaded positive result is not a good idea, nor may it be possible. Not only is this “can’t-get-tested-positive-if-I-don’t-get-tested” attitude is socially and morally reproachable, you may not have a choice, as most local authorities will require you to provide a test or be tested upon arrival.
Conclusion on travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic
Given the current situation, your safest bet is to avoid all non-essential travel, as recommended by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the UK, especially international trips. Being tested positive is sure to put a stop to your travel plans.
The coronavirus outbreak sucks, we know, but it’s in everyone’s best interest to avoid close contacts and self-isolate if we want to reduce the amount of COVID-19 cases: keep in mind that people with some pre-existing medical conditions are particularly at risk. Even if you do not present any symptom, you may be a carrier, so do get tested before travelling.
Keep track of the official guidance on coronavirus and travel advice such as that of the NHS in the UK. The bare minimum is to wear a face mask in public places, keep physical distancing recommendations in mind, avoid high-risk places such as crowded spaces, respect quarantine rules should you be subject to them.
Keep yourself, your family members, and friends safe!