Government-issued guidance on restrictions and safety advice during the ongoing coronavirus crisis are being updated all of the time. However, at present England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all stipulate a list of legally permitted reasons to travel – and the top of all lists is ‘for work purposes’. If people are unable to reasonably work from home then travel outside of the home is allowed, providing that journeys are left as infrequent and safe as possible. But what does ‘safe’ travel really mean?
Travel within the UK should be completed alone if possible, or by wearing PPE and taking reasonable social distancing measures amongst those in your workplace bubble. If travelling internationally, most countries require a negative coronavirus test result within three days of travel. Testing for this purpose cannot be completed on the NHS, but there are now several clinics offering private Covid-19 testing in London that fit with international requirements.
Wherever and however business travel is needed, there are some safety guidelines that can be followed to help best protect everyone and reduce the transmission risks of coronavirus amongst those travelling.
Public transport guidance
The British Government have issued ‘Safer Travel Guidance’ for those who need to take public transport as their means for business travel. Whilst there are specific variations between transport modes between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are several themes that reoccur throughout.
Social distance where possible
Everyone is advised to avoid travelling at busy periods where possible, but it’s appreciated that this is not realistic for all. Smaller modes of transport make it considerably more difficult to keep 2 meters away from others, but many have lowered passenger numbers and cordoned off seating to make this possible. Bus services, trains and trams all encourage passengers to sit apart from others – even if in their workplace bubble – to avoid unnecessary contamination.
Wear the right PPE
At the time of writing, a face mask or relevant facial covering is mandatory on public transport throughout the UK, unless the individual is medically exempt. A mask must be worn “for the full duration of journeys on the public transport network”; which includes inside any transport stations, and while in private hire transport modes such as taxis.
While the types of face masks vary in their effectiveness, even the most basic of homemade face coverings can offer a degree of protection. Data analysis by The Lancet compiling 172 studies across 16 countries found that wearing a face-covering across the nose and mouth reduces the risk of contracting Covid-19 to just 3%.
Plan for restrictions elsewhere
The restrictions and rules in England are different to those elsewhere in the UK, and from those across the globe. No matter a traveller’s origin, they must abide by the local rules upon arrival into a new territory or country – and in some cases will need to meet set requirements before they’re permitted to even depart.
Many countries now stipulate that a negative coronavirus test result must be presented before travel in order to guarantee entry. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) Covid-19 tests are available privately for this purpose and work by detecting the genetic information of the virus – which is only present if the person being tested is infected. However, even upon presentation of a negative test result, travellers may still be required to quarantine upon arrival.
The situation is changing all the time, so travel advice should be sought relating to both the journey’s destination and starting point as close to embarkment as possible. With some careful planning, plenty of hand sanitiser and a good face mask, essential business travel can be made as efficiently and safely as possible, and work can continue.