US and UK responses to the pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, the pattern of solutions for treatment and prevention has been two steps forward and one step back. Both here in the United States and in the United Kingdom, vaccination has been proceeding with about half of the population fully vaccinated. The step back is the speed of the Delta variation of the Covid virus that transmits easily but is a bit easier to treat. Happily, as of July 27, the UK is reopening to US tourists on August 2nd who have been vaccinated and take a test 3 days before departure and 2 days after arrival.
Things to keep in mind:
· Refunds. Especially given today's news, we think it highly unlikely that we will need to reschedule this pilgrimage but must admit that the future is uncertain. We will explore options as needed, but be assured that if we must reschedule, your registration will transfer. If, in the event of a rescheduling, you cannot accommodate the new dates (probably 6 or 12 months later) then we will do our best to give a full or nearly full refund as we have with everyone who has been inconvenienced by cancellations in the past year. We have moved the deadline for 100% refunds for this pilgrimage for any reason to October 1. This will be the last such move. Our stated policy is that after the deadline for refunds for each of our pilgrimages, there are no refunds unless the space is resold, plus there is a $250 cancellation fee.
· Insurance.There is no insurance at a reasonable cost that will cover you or PilgrimQuests for difficulties that result from Covid 19 because it is no longer an “unexpected event” like a natural disaster or civil unrest. Some aspects of travel are a risk that we take because the risk is acceptable, and the reward is high.
What should you do right now?
· Get vaccinated if you have not already done so, as this is the key to your health as well as slowing and stopping the pandemic. Additionally, although expanded freedoms for vaccinated travelers are currently limited, we expect vaccination status to play an increasingly important role in travel regulations in the future. What we do not know yet is to what extent those who are vaccinated can spread the virus while remaining asymptomatic. It is for this reason that the UK, an island nation, is so careful about international arrivals. Of course, this problem also diminishes exponentially as people are vaccinated. Besides being vaccinated yourself, encourage everyone you know to do likewise. Will PilgrimQuests require vaccination? Since it is required for people entering the UK, the question is no longer relevant. . We will be collecting proof of travel insurance that covers medical evacuation. We will also be collecting proof of vaccination that may expedite everything from hotel registration to ferry crossings.
· Check your passport. Your passport expiration date must be at least 6 months after the end of your trip. So, for this pilgrimage your expiration date must be in November of 2022 or later. The US State department reports that the wait time for passport renewal is currently 18 weeks. Our pilgrimage begins in 36 weeks.
· Keep plans flexible. The KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle will help. Since the UK is no longer in the European Union, easy travel from Holland, Germany, and France is not a sure thing. Therefore, it is prudent but not essential to arrange your air travel from the United States to go directly to the UK (London or Manchester) and then proceed to Glasgow by air or train. Whatever you book, opt for airlines and tickets that do not have change fees. Do not plan an excursion prior to the pilgrimage to countries that are likely to still be struggling with vaccination (most of Africa, for example). Right now, Toronto is the only North American city with direct flights to Glasgow. That could change. Ireland is a notable exception to all of these issues. If you have proof of vaccination, you can enter Ireland without testing or quarantining right now. There are plenty of direct flights from the US to Dublin and Dublin to Glasgow is short and inexpensive. By April, some. of this caution may be unnecessary.
Although things are headed in the right direction, we recognize that the ongoing state of uncertainty surrounding Covid and international travel can be confusing and frustrating, but we are committed to making this process safe, transparent, and enjoyable for all pilgrims and leaders. If you have any questions or concerns about the pandemic and our pilgrimage, please call or write any of us. You can find our contact information below.