My experience of international travel in Covid times.
I had not planned to travel abroad this year, especially after the UK government’s announcement in early 2021 that foreign holidays were forbidden. Even heading towards the airport with an intent to go on a foreign holiday could result in a £5000 fine or imprisonment! Surreal.
Where we live in London under a flight path to Heathrow, we notice that although there are fewer flights, they have not ceased completely. So how do people travel? It’s not something I have thought about.
One day at the end of April I receive a message that my elderly father’s condition is critical. Within an hour I am looking at flights back home in Eastern Europe and checking the UK government travel ‘advice’ webpages.
I say ‘advice’ but that word belongs to the past. Today, ‘command’ might be more appropriate. According to the government, only “essential” international travel is permitted for named valid reasons; ‘medical and compassionate’ is the category which applies to me.
I wonder whose compassion this is a reference to: mine, for wanting to be with my sick father, or the government’s for including this as a possibility. Reassured that I can go, it is now a question of buying the plane tickets, checking in and packing, right? Not quite.