Big Brother is no longer keeping pandemic watch and many people are now making up their own rules around “living with Covid”. After more than two years, we’ve been freed from the shackles around our behaviour, and our actions are now left to personal responsibility, However, it’s not so clear any more what makes up a breach or just a practical decision.
But with the holiday season under way there is a whole new set of dilemmas as Covid climbs again across Europe.
Q What happens if I have my bags packed and I have possible symptoms of Covid-19?
A If you follow the key public health advice you need to stay at home and self-isolate. You need to self-isolate until 48 hours after symptoms have substantially or fully resolved.
The guidance also says not to attend social events, work or school. There is the option of a home antigen test but a negative result is not a green light if you have symptoms.
A private PCR test can be obtained with a one-hour turnaround time.
Q What would an infectious disease expert do?
A Professor Jack Lambert, a specialist in infectious disease and professor of medicine in UCD, said he would not travel if he had symptoms. “You should not be travelling if you have a symptomatic respiratory illness,” he said. “You are going to be going around coughing and spreading it.”
Q What about wearing a face mask?
A Prof Lambert said he was in France last week for a conference and he was among around six people out of hundreds at Dublin Airport wearing a mask. He said: “There was a wall of people in the queue for 45 minutes.”
He warned there is another rise in Covid-19 with more people coming down with the infection again.
Since May 16 passengers flying in the EU no longer need to wear masks in airports or aboard flights, although some countries have kept the rule.
Masks are no longer mandatory here but they should be worn when travelling, Prof Lambert said.
Q What happens if I get symptoms of Covid abroad?
A The same advice applies. You should self-isolate and not travel home.
It’s worth taking out specific travel insurance to cover the expense of staying on until the symptoms have resolved. If a PCR test is positive the isolation period can differ depending on what country you are in.
If you are on holiday here and you test positive you need to self-isolate for seven days from the date of onset of symptoms, or if asymptomatic, the date of the positive test.
Q What is the advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs?
A It says that people should still exercise caution in any decisions about international travel, taking account of their overall health, their vaccine status, and the risk of testing positive for Covid-19 while abroad.
It says if you contract Covid-19 when abroad, “you may face delays and additional costs before returning to Ireland. It is important to check with your travel insurance provider on coverage before travel.”
Anyone considering travelling abroad should be aware that restrictions are subject to change at short notice. “You are advised to monitor the official advice and information provided by the authorities at your destination.”
Q What are the safety tips for travelling as Covid rises again?
A Basic advice is to get vaccinated and avail of a Covid-19 booster shot. Over one million people here have not got their first booster and take-up of a second booster is also behind.
A previous Covid infection is little defence against new variants. Wear a mask on public transport and risk-assess other situations such as shops, museums, crowded gatherings and so on. Look for outdoor seating and check out indoor hospitality venues to see how well ventilated they are. If they are poorly ventilated you should avoid them. Sanitise hands.