5 things we must see happen and to consider before we can holiday in Malta in 2021.
Hey my lovelies, how are you all doing? I hope that you are all safe and well and having a wonderful #Easter 🐣 #Sunday
In todays #travel #blog I'm sharing my views surrounding the current stalemate with international travel here in the #UK and #Malta.
The Covid-19 pandemic situation is, and always has been, so very fluid. This has lead to each country around the world setting its own entry restrictions and quarantine rules.
It’s been such a very long 12 months and we are all missing travelling to Malta so very much. As #summer approaches the burning question on all of our lips is, “when will we be able to travel again?”
The great news is that #COVID-19 vaccination programmes are now in full force. 🙌🙌🙌
It's all going wonderfully well here in the UK, as I type, we've just passed the 5 million mark 🎉 for those having received both of their vaccination shots! Boris has declared this as "another milestone in our vaccination programme" and indeed it is, and something to be extremely proud of. 🙌
Malta is doing great too having already administered 209,065 vaccines of which 57,123 are second doses. That’s 8.14% of the overall Maltese population fully vaccinated. 🙌
However we must remain cautious of the third wave sweeping through #Europe at the moment.😢 Just this week we have witnessed France moving into their third lockdown, whilst in Spain the country has implemented the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors even whilst sunbathing on the beach.
Could this now mean that England’s roadmap plan is stalling? Could the planned resumption of #international travel from the UK on the 17th of May be at threat??
Our PM Boris Johnson is due to give an #announcement on #Monday which will give an update on the Global Task Force's findings into future travel abroad and the possibility of a new Covid-19 vaccination travel certificate.
We are led to believe that the announcement will indicate how these certificates will work along with shedding some light on a possible new traffic light system 🚦 of red, amber and green countries, with differing testing/quarantine restrictions for each level.
There is also growing speculation that the 17 May "freedom to fly" date may need to be pushed back
As there are more questions than answers at the moment I thought I would share my 5 recommended points for you to remain watchful of and to consider over the coming days and weeks.
The first 4 really need to happen in order for us to be able to plan and book our #holidays to #Malta again in #safely and in #confidence.
1. The UK Government’s travel advice needs to change.
This first point is of paramount importance.
Right now, it’s illegal to travel abroad for touristic purposes. By even travelling to an #airport with the intent of holidaying abroad could see you face a hefty fine of £5,000.
This current ban is in place until the 30th of June, but we also still have a glimmer of #hope that the 17 May date will still stick, this all depends upon the report of the Global Task Force which will be announced as previously mentioned by Boris a week earlier than originally planned on the 5th of April.
Until this “stay at home” order is lifted, regardless of whatever other countries decide with regard to UK admissions, sadly we won’t be able to go anywhere.
2. Airline routes need to reopen along with hotels.
At the moment, we simply can’t get to Malta, and even if we could, the choice of where to stay is limited, with a number of large #hotels currently and understandably closed.
Daily, we observe the low cost carriers adjusting their schedules and cancelling flights. Those people already booked for the early summer are receiving cancellation emails and rebooking options.
New flight bookings with #EasyJet, and #Ryanair are currently on sale from June, #Jet2 are a little more optimistic, offering flights from the 20th of May. (I've based these dates on Northern departures being a #Geordie lassie 😉)
When flights do resume, sadly we can expect to pay a lot more, its most definitely going to be a case of supply versus demand and its already clearly evident that pricing is much higher than in previous years.
I fear for those who took the option of a travel voucher rather than a refund when last years flights were cancelled, the value I feel is sadly not going to be comparable.
There will also be of course a very different onboard service to that which we have over the years become accustomed to, with a limited food and beverage offerings etc.
I personally envisage for at least this year that social distancing restrictions will continue, along with the requirement to wear a mask throughout our airport/onboard #journey
I for one will be more than happy to continue with this #safe regime.
Hotels need to be given time to prepare for reopening and most importantly to maintain and deep clean all rooms and public areas. It will be interesting to see if hotel rates are competitively priced when reopening occurs, or will a huge price hike take place?
It may be worth playing Devils advocate and booking now if you find a great #deal out there, just ensure the rate you book allows you the #flexibility to change and cancel if the need arises.
Three things for me will most definitely be deciding factors when choosing a place to stay on the islands this year,
How good is the property's Covid-19 cleaning protocols?
Are they committed to our #safety by adhering to the islands Malta, Sunny and Safe COVID-19 protocols? *
Are all hotel facilities going to be open?
* Malta, Sunny and Safe is the Ministry of Tourism and Consumer Protections basic #principles needed to provide us all with a safe visit to Malta. These 4 principles are,
Maintain social distancing
Increased levels of hygiene
Wearing of masks and visors where required
Having fun!! 🤩
3. The lifting of restrictions for UK arrivals in Malta.
As of the 22nd of December, the UK remains on Malta’s #red list, which means UK #tourists are banned from entering.
The only permitted arrivals from the UK are #repatriations, carried by Air Malta with a negative PCR test being presented on arrival. A public health declaration and passenger locator form must be presented at the same time too, followed by a mandatory 14 day self isolation.
Malta is also currently in a form of #lockdown which is due to be reviewed on the 11th of April. Face masks must be worn everywhere outdoors, and can only be removed when #eating and #drinking, there is essential travel only permitted between the islands of #Gozo and #Malta, mass events aside from small funerals are cancelled, #cinemas, #gymnasiums, #restaurants and #bars, #museums, swimming pools, and open air markets all closed.
However there is a sliver of #light on the #horizon with the announcement this week that Malta will welcome fully vaccinated UK tourists from the 1st of June. 🎉🎉🎉
Given around 1/2 a million of us visit the #beautiful Maltese islands each year, this is indeed terrific #news.
The reasoning behind the decision appears to be that Malta is second to the UK in terms of European countries which have vaccinated the largest proportion of their population.
Those who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be permitted entry from this date, and passengers will be required to show proof that their vaccinations were administered at least 10 days prior to their arriving flight. This will negate the need and the additional cost incurred of having to produce a negative PCR test on arrival.
More details need to be shared re the requirements for those still awaiting their vaccines, or those who have just received their first dose. My personal view would be that a negative PCR test would still be required, but I’m sure further details will be provided soon.
The bottom line, Malta needs to open its borders to us officially or our holidays won't happen.
4. The lifting of restrictions when arriving back into the UK.
At the moment, extremely strict entry restrictions apply for essential travellers, as remember international touristic travel is currently illegal.
If you are arriving into the UK from Malta as an essential traveller with a legally permitted reason for travel you must,
Complete the electronic passenger locator form before entering
Produce a negative PCR test
Self isolate for 10 days immediately upon entry.
Isolation time may be reduced by taking advantage of the Test to release scheme. This incurs taking another paid test after 5 days of self isolation, if this result is negative, then you are released early from the 10 day term of your #isolation.
We need to see the self isolation requirement lifted to avoid potentially having to use another 1-2 weeks annual leave.
I would advise if you are hoping to travel this year to have the option to call on this extra leave as restrictions can change so very quickly. You could fly out on a green traffic light basis and then the islands could move into amber or red mid trip if another wave rears it’s head.
Having #flexibility is key and travel this year will not be for the faint hearted.
5. Ensuring your travel insurance covers COVID-19 and none essential travel.
My view is that travel this year is going to always have an element of #unpredictability.
Therefore I will always ensure I have a travel policy which is going to cover me for COVID-19 and also for #travelling against government advice, should the necessity arise and so long as its no longer illegal to travel.
Usually travelling against government advice would immediately render your travel insurance policy null and void, and I strongly advise you to never travel without being covered.
This is where Battleface insurance steps in to save everyone's day, as they cover both elements!
battleface provides lean, flexible travel insurance and services that suit the needs of today’s travelers going to unconventional or challenging places. This includes destinations under government “Do Not Travel” or “Essential Only” advisories. Covid-19 medical expenses are covered if you are age 59 or under.
Customizable benefits include baggage cover, cancellation, business cover, medical treatment and evacuation and repatriation of mortal remains. Every product includes 24/7 Emergency Travel, Crisis Response and Medical and Assistance services.
As plans can also change very quickly, you can buy battleface policies whilst already travelling.
I discovered Battleface last summer when our holiday nearly derailed with Malta being placed on the essential travel only list. Using this wonderful company ensured we were still able to travel with a fabulous fully inclusive cover. It truly gave us complete #peace of mind.
Even more awesome is their pricing, I paid no more than my regular cover! Their customer service is truly superb too, I can recommend you use them in a heartbeat.
So there you have it, just a little food for thought for you all my lovelies. By remaining watchful of these points I feel we'll all be ready to hit the ground running as soon as the government advice changes in our favour.
I'll publish another update early next week, once we have a clearer picture from the PM.
But if the first 4 points all come together we will soon be spending #precious time with loved ones and friends, having lots of #fun in the #sun in #beautiful Malta and Gozo.