Coach holidays & Covid in Scotland – somehow we are still talking about it in 2022 🙁
It’s shaping up to be a very busy year here in Scotland which is great, but there are still some Covid points to consider and be aware of.
I’ve just been on my first trip of the year, as a guest, to learn a new tour that I will be leading to Shetland. Unfortunately, several of the group, contracted Covid19 during the trip.
My recent trip made me reflect on coach holidays, health policies, Covid policies and insurance policies – all of these could be affected by Covid19.
In light of all these considerations here is my summary of things to think about if you are considering taking a coach holiday in the next few months.
1. Coach Holidays & Covid in Scotland – Holiday Policies
There are currently no requirements to wear face masks, sanitise hands or even to isolate in the UK. However, your holiday company may have a different policy. Some companies are still recommending face masks are worn when travelling, some are making it mandatory.
It is worth checking what the policy is in advance rather than assuming the rules will be the same as the country you are visiting. Holiday company rules are likely to be guided by their insurance underwriters and their health and safety teams/advisers. These will take into account things like demographics of the groups, where they are travelling too, how many different nationalities are travelling together etc.
2. Coach Holidays & Covid in Scotland – Personal Considerations
Let’s take a moment to reflect on the guest experience on my most recent trip.
Halfway through the trip one of the passengers started coughing, consistently and regularly. They didn’t wear any kind of face covering. They didn’t stay off the coach and miss any of the tour and they didn’t take a test either.
The holiday company policy recommended wearing a mask on the coach (the longest journey was an hour). It also recommended using hand sanitiser and taking a test if you developed any Covid symptoms. The coughing passenger did none of these things. By the next day more passengers were coughing and again they had taken none of the recommended steps.
The group travelled back from Shetland on a plane and got tested at Edinburgh airport ahead of their flights to Edinburgh the following day. It was then that several of them tested positive for Covid.
These guests have had to stay in Edinburgh for around 10 days until they get a negative test result. That’s quite an extension on a trip that for some of them was already a month long.
If everyone had followed the holiday company guidelines the chance of catching the infection and it spreading would have been much reduced.
Even if the holiday company does not have any mandatory policy regarding facemasks and sanitising it is probably worth considering, especially if you know that there is Covid circulating in the area you are visiting.
What’s worse – wearing a mask for no more than 1 hour at a time or spending 10 days in a hotel? (Yes I am aware there is no guarantee that wearing a face mask still might not have prevented the infections, but still worth a try)
3. Coach Holidays & Covid in Scotland – Travel Insurance Implications/Considerations
Some of the guests who tested positive for Covid19 infections had the travel company holiday insurance. This meant that the UK office of the travel company could extend their hotels and make all the return flight and transfer arrangements for them.
It also meant they had a local contact to liaise with in case of any difficulty.
For those guests who did not have the travel company holiday insurance, because they had taken their own insurance cover, they would have to liaise with the insurance company directly. That means sorting out all those arrangements with the insurance company too, which is probably not that much fun when you are feeling poorly.
Professional Traveller Tip
Even if you have your own travel insurance, perhaps through an annual policy for example, it is always worth checking out the cost of the holiday company insurance. If you are a solo traveller imagine being unwell or incapacitated and having to make all those arrangements yourself?
4. Coach Holidays & Covid in Scotland – Insurance Quarantine Implications
An interesting situation arose on my recent trip in terms of quarantine procedures. In Scotland the guidance says you should try and stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days after the day your test was taken.
However, the guests were told that there were no self isolation requirements in the UK so it was at their own discretion whether they self isolated or not.
Getting this wrong could mean the different between having the insurance company pay out or not so it’s important to check everything.
As with any travel insurance situation getting confirmation of the requirements, ideally in writing, from the travel insurance company would help ensure your claim was paid out.
For help understand this a bit better let’s consider how a claim might be considered.
If the guest who tested positive was advised to avoid contact with other people for 5 days then evidence of compliance with that would be 5 days worth of room service meals. This would show that the isolation requirement was strictly followed. The insurance company most likely has a clause saying that local requirements in relation to Covid19 apply in the case of a positive test. There is little for the travel insurance company to argue about.
If the guest who tested positive decided instead to spend 5 days exploring Edinburgh, enjoying meals all over the city, with the aim of putting the expenses into the insurance company at the end they could be caught out. Any claim processor would quickly spot that the meals were in different venues throughout the city. This would clearly show that the guest did not follow the local guidance and did not isolate. This would give the travel company the opportunity to not pay the claim. The kicker here is that they could avoid paying the whole claim as a result – that is the extra accommodation, the meals, the return flights – the whole lot.
If the guest who did not isolate advised the insurance company that the holiday company representative advised they didn’t have to follow local guidance this wouldn’t make any difference. There might be a counterclaim if they had this information in writing from the holiday company directly.
An easy way to think about travel insurance is that they are happy when they find a reason not to pay out.
5. Coach Holidays & Covid in Scotland – Summary
- Understand the situation in relation to Covid in the places you are going to be visiting.
- Check with your coach holiday company what their policies are.
- Decide how you will manage the situation if Covid-19 occurs while you are on your holiday – are you going to take your own masks, sanitiser, tests?
- If Covid19 does occur then check with your travel insurance company what you need to do and follow this advice to the letter.
If you have found my Coach Holidays and Covid in Scotland article useful then you might also like;
10 Things You Absolutely Need to Know About Coach Holidays Before You Book – it’s based on 30 years experience of leading coach holidays all over the world