The spread of COVID-19 across the world has massively altered international travel, with some countries closing their borders. Changing travel advice, local measures, and public health advice mean that a number of factors need to be considered prior to arranging and supporting an EEA national to undertake a journey to a home country.
When exploring options to return to an EEA country with clients, it is important to risk assess all aspects of this with the client prior to confirming travel and reconnection plans.
This risk assessment is in addition to the advice set out in our Arranging and supporting EEA reconnections page, and should reflect the latest travel and social distancing/self-isolation guidance for the UK as well as the destination country. Where the travel arrangements involve a stop-over in a third country, the guidance in this country should also be considered as part of the risk assessment.
Travel and social distancing/self-isolation requirements
Travel restrictions and social distancing/self-isolation requirements are currently in place in many countries to curb and prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Up-to-date foreign travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) can be found here.
The FCO advice is regularly updated to reflect changing guidelines across different countries. Each country page now includes a “Covid-19” section, which outline a country’s restrictions on international travel as well as information on the local measures in place to curb the spread of the virus.
This information needs to be fully integrated into the risk assessment, while taking into account individual circumstances and other relevant support needs.
Practically this would include actions such as
- Consult individual country travel advice pages for information on local measures and ensuring that the client is informed and able to follow local requirements upon arrival. In some cases this may require complying with quarantine requirements.
- Planning the travel in the UK and abroad in line with the relevant social-distancing and self-isolation guidance, ensuring the relevant Personal Protection equipment (PPE) is provided if needed.
- Contacting the airline, travel company, or other transport and accommodation providers to receive the latest information on the way they are operating and the requirements that may be in place.
- Understanding the local healthcare system and how someone returning to the country following a period of absence would access this if needed.
Individual circumstances and additional support needs
In completing the risk assessment it is important to consider the travel and country information in light of the individual’s personal circumstances and other support needs.
Some individuals may be at higher risk of getting seriously ill when contracting Covid-19, due to underlying health conditions. Guidance on the conditions that make people more vulnerable to Covid-19 complications can be found here.
Similarly, while some clients may be returning to their own property or a family home close to a main airport, others may need to reply on local provision of emergency accommodation and/or travel long distances within the destination country to reach their final destination.
The risk associated with these individual circumstances need to be taken into consideration when developing a reconnection plan. Where risks cannot be mitigated to an acceptable level, the reconnection may need to be delayed. In this case the reconnection plan needs to be periodically reassessed as country-specific guidance and/or individual circumstances change.
Brexit and the EU Settlement Scheme
It is crucial that EEA nationals being assisted to return to their home countries during this time are made aware of Brexit, the EU Settlement Scheme and the potential longer term impact of leaving the UK at this time. Our page on Brexit and the EU Settlement Scheme provides further information about this.
Advice and signposting contact details
If you require further support around reconnection planning, risk assessments, or advice and signposting for EEA nationals, please contact Routes Home or RHSfirstname.lastname@example.org