COVID-19 News – Lifting restrictions in the UK and the US

Coronavirus and UK travellers flying to US

ESTA travel news: coronavirus updates on travel restrictions from Europe and what to expect in the US and UK through latter 2020

10 May 2020 – Since mid-March travel restrictions due to the 2019 novel coronavirus, SARS Cov 2, have affected travel from the UK, the European Union and beyond. The travel ban applies to leisure and business visitors, including ESTA approved travellers entering the country with approval of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). There are no concrete answers about when and if travel from the UK will resume in time for the latter part of the summer holiday season and into autumn. In what may be a positive sign, Americans are enjoying the re-opening of businesses, beaches, and restaurants in the United States. Stay-at-home orders in the States have been somewhat less stringent than the sweeping lockdowns instituted in the UK.

US news highlights the week of 10 May includes announcements that nationwide Americans are getting back to work as the country re-opens many non-essential businesses. Meanwhile, US President Donald J. Trump has indicated that individual states’ governors will make the call on what to reopen and when, as he continues to speak out publicly of the desire to get the US economy moving. It is no secret that international tourism is a boon to the US economy as it is in the UK, and sojourners as well as economists would be ecstatic to see leisure travel resume.

In the US last week,, some members of the government’s White House coronavirus task force were exposed to two United States’ government colleagues who have been tested positive for COVID-19. Whilst most Americans have been sporting new face coverings to stem the virus spread, at the White House this has not been so. Add to that that these key players cannot work from home and are subject to countless relevant coronavirus response meetings, it was bound to happen. Of course, the UK’s prime minister knows first-hand all too well, as he was hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 in April. Thankfully, he has recovered and returned to Downing Street.

In the United Kingdom on 10 May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Britons to return to work beginning Wednesday the 13th, for those who have not been able to work from home such as those in construction and manufacturing. Mr. Johnson has, though, advised against the use of public transportation for now when possible. The measures are described as a “conditional plan” aimed to slowly allow the lockdown to be lifted in phases. The Stay at Home message of the initial lockdown has been replaced by a Stay Alert maxim. However, the easing of restrictions pertains primarily to England. Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have extended much of their lockdown restrictions to 28 May. In England, though, people will be able to enjoy the freedom of outdoor recreation with members of their household and will be allowed to meet one person at a time outside of their household members. Phase 2 when retail reopens, will begin on 1 June. On Monday, 11 May, whilst speaking to Parliament, the prime minister said, “We are seeing the indomitable spirit of Britain." He also announced that some schools in the UK may open at the beginning of June. The phased-in approach would have the youngest students returning first. 


World Health Organization advice for face masks and cloth face coverings

The World Health Organization (WHO) offers detailed information about wearing and removing masks on their website. For the public (non-health care workers) in the UK, cloth face covering types of masks are suggested. Note: Medical masks which are in short supply globally should be reserved for healthcare workers.

The WHO instructions for wearing and removing a face covering or mask

“Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.”

Provided by

•    Before putting on a mask, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
•    Cover mouth and nose with a mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
•    Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
•    Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
•    To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.





UK air travel will look different due to the coronavirus pandemic

In the UK and in the US, and across the globe, air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic will be a different experience than any we have known before. Whether during domestic air travel or on international flights between the UK and America, once they resume, new measures designed to help protect passengers and crew will be implemented. Scheduling will be impacted as well. Through 2021 it is anticipated that fewer routes and less frequent flights to any given destination will match the near-term decreased demand, according to industry analysts. 

For travel within the UK and EU, as well as for ESTA travellers with the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), initiatives designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus on planes and as people cross borders are expected to be comprehensive. Both airlines and governments will probably adapt questionnaires to include more information about each passenger’s current and recent health including possible exposure to anyone who is confirmed to have COVID-19 or its symptoms. Temperature screening will likely become commonplace. There has also been speculation that airlines will reconfigure plans to allow more space between passengers; a change that will provide more physical comfort and along with physical distance. I don’t want more legroom! said no one ever.


Planning for future ESTA travel to the US  

For those looking ahead for business and leisure travel the question is: When can I travel to the US? Both the UK and the US have travel restrictions in place and will for some time. Those of the UK―as part of the Schengen zone, have non-essential travel restrictions mandated until 15 May, unless extended―apply to the EU + area. Entry restrictions placed by the United States on 13 March are still in effect and apply to all travellers from ESTA eligible countries as well as many others. Whilst the US has maintained that there is no confirmed date in place to ease restrictions on entry, the latter part of 2020 seems to be what many collectively are hoping for. Understandably, the challenges and circumstances for the US easing the temporary travel ban will vary from country to country as opposed to for all of the EU at once, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Limited business travel, for example, will potentially resume before leisure travel. And countries that have mitigated the spread of the coronavirus measurably could have restrictions eased earlier than others. Certainly, the United States is eager to be able to welcome travelers from Europe again when it is safe to do so. The US economy, like that of the Europe, is bolstered significantly by tourism.








When to apply for ESTA, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization

The ESTA is valid for two years so you can apply anytime. The VWP is a convenient way to for travellers to visit the United States without the time-consuming burden of the application process for a traditional visa. With the generous 90-day limit for each trip, ESTA approval lets visitors explore the great American countryside and cosmopolitan cities at a leisurely pace. And with all the talk of social distancing, savvy travellers may want to discover historic small city gems and vast outdoor destinations, including some of the least talked about national parks, unspoiled beaches, and quirky hamlets rife in uniquely American spirit and history. Have you ever heard of Santa Fe, New Mexico…

To learn about eligibility and the convenience of the ESTA, visit our complete ESTA guide. For more travel news, hop over to our blog. If you are ready to apply for ESTA, find out more about the ESTA application here



Learn to make a cloth face covering

This mask tutorial demonstrates how to easily
fashion a fabric face mask without a sewing machine.

Travelling to the United States? Do you have your pre-planning checklist in order? Visit our ESTA Guide for more information about obtaining your travel permit. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your comments or questions for travel assistance.

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