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James Wilkinson

Returning to UK during Covid

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Hi everyone!

I’m planning to return to the UK from Melbourne in the coming months. I was initially planning to leave at the end of September but decided to push it out with the uncertainty around the second lockdown.

I’m now trying to get things organised for mid November and was wondering if people had any experiences in returning home during this time? I’m not a permanent resident here, so I won’t need special permission to leave.

But just wondering if anyone had any advice on other things to be aware of? In particular, would be good to know if flights advertised are generally flying as predicted. 

Thanks in advance,

James

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Hi James,

We are in a similar position in having postponed our departure from July.  I have found a facebook page which is primarily for people discussing exemptions (which we will need) but from reading through it the following is clear:

All flights with Emirates (via Dubai), Etihad (via Abu Dhabi) & Qatar (via Doha) appear to be full from Sydney then the onwards flights from those destinations much less so.

Emirates & Etihad require you to present a negative COVID test before checking in which has to be done no more than 96hrs prior.

No-one at all has mentioned being bumped off any flights etc

You need to wear a mask and Qatar are providing each passenger with face shields to be worn on top of those masks (except when eating!)

The Facebook page is Travel Exemption Australia -  Travelban COVID19

We are not due to leave until January now so any more info you come across or anything unusual you experience when you travel in November would be most welcome!

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The only reason people are getting bumped off flights TO Australia is that the government has put a cap on the number of passengers on each flight.   That means planes are flying less with only 50 passengers (i.e. less than a quarter full) and not surprisingly, the airline wants those passengers to be at the highest fare possible.  So if you've booked in economy and a business or first class passenger comes along, you'll get bumped.

There are no such limits on passenger numbers from Australia to the UK so that problem doesn't exist. 


Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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@Fluffycookie thanks for letting me know about that group, that's really helpful. Good luck with your exemption, it sounds like people are getting these through fairly quickly and easily now.

Sounds like flying via Hong Kong is probably the safest bet right now as no requirement for a negative Covid test and no requirement for quarantine on arrival in the UK. Although with things changing so rapidly, it's possible this could change between now and flying!

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as previously feared people are now being bumped from flights coming out of Australia.  It would be helpful if anyone that has recently successfully travelled to the UK from Australia keep us posted here on which airlines are proving to be the most reliable over the coming months and indeed which to avoid.  Any unreliability in flights makes moving with pets almost impossible.  All relevant info most appreciated. 

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Hi, 

We flew on 16th August with Etihad.

1.  We had our gov travel exemption and the check in staff call immigration and check and people had been turned away. 

2.  We were covid tested at a local hospital and had a text only, the guy at check in nearly forgot to ask us! He was on his first shift after 6 months off and he laughed at forgetting. Ultimately others were being checked and showing phones and paperwork. 

3. Stricter rules on luggage and having to check in hand luggage so make sure you have a small case that can be checked in instead of backpacks.  We had backpacks so only one piece of hand luggage. Others had to rearrange luggage and check in their additional bags.  Usually you get 7kg and a 5kg hand bag etc... 

4.  The Q was quiet, the airport was very quiet, not much is open, no one was turned away and the flight the first leg had 78 people on it! I had 4 seats to myself and so did my partner and no one in front or behind for rows and rows! best flight ever. 

5. Etihad you have to wear a mask all the time, they provide you with one and there are masks at the airport (Sydney).

6. The staff are helpful and the plane was very clean...

7.  You must complete the passenger locator form for entering UK either before during or at the airport in London online only.  Heathrow was dead quiet and no Q's. The form does not specifically state .. did you transit through etc...? This info is only available when you read the guidelines on further information if you check this info... Technically transiting through UAE you have to isolate for 14 days.  However, at border control we spoke to the guy and he was like your coming from Oz, you dont need to, you should have ticked NO on the form for do you need to isolate Q?  he didnt appear to think we needed to and said not to bother and welcome home! He also said no one will check on us as there are no resources and he said if they do say you ticked the wrong box!  We left feeling very confused and bewildered, I thought of older people etc who would be less aware of the regulations (such as my in laws who would have found the whole process stressful) They would always ask an official and do what they are told by them... in this case told to not isolate.... go figure! 

8. We are back, shell shocked, glad the anxiety fuelled mad travel is over, feel like we have left the pandemic and its over as getting back was our biggest hurdle but clearly that is not the case! We are enjoying being back though its very odd, wearing a mask everytime you go to a shop and the way things are here compared to Oz is definitely noticeable and the strain and the message of say safe save lives is strong and people are paranoid and been leaving in such a strange way compared to Australia. Family get togethers have been odd and the no touching is horrible, plus new restrictions of no more than 6 people indoors or out is changing things again. 

9. The weather has been pleasant in the south, warm, sunny, rainy, cloudy, warm, breezy, late warm evenings, cold... all the usual but its been lovely, calm refreshing pleasant weather, I've enjoyed sitting in the sun in the evening with a glass of wine watching the slow long sunset and feeling a difference from the strong UV sun of Oz. 

10. Went into one pub and it was weird.... 

11. People are not always socially distancing in the tourist hotspot areas... 

12. Supermarket produce seems appalling but I am comparing it to Oz and the mid norther coast with all the growers markets and the general good produce of Oz and lack of plastic in supermarkets... So far not impressed with UK supermarkets... 

13.  The news is all about the same but its cheery and interesting to listen to, uplifting unified and decent music jokes and chats... 

14. I missed Oz for days and kept thinking about the beach the sunrises the kookaburras etc... Less so already and its not even a month.... 

15.  The countryside is spectacularly beautiful right now 🙂

 

 

Edited by Joanne Donnelly
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Thanks so much for this Joanne.  It's great to know the expected processes.  Interesting about the quarantine as well!  

We live in an area here that hasn't seen a single case of COVID with no one wearing masks etc so we too will find the transition to the UK quite confronting I'm sure.

Hope all goes well re. settling in over the coming months.

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On 10/09/2020 at 19:59, Joanne Donnelly said:

Supermarket produce seems appalling but I am comparing it to Oz and the mid norther coast with all the growers markets and the general good produce of Oz and lack of plastic in supermarkets... So far not impressed with UK supermarkets... 

Must depend on which region you are in, as we are finding the exact opposite.  

We are now on the Sunshine Coast, and we think the produce back in M&S and Sainsbury' was better.

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 Perth WA  / UK / Queensland

 

 

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We were surprised that the stuff in the UK was better than last time we went ( this time was last October) but I  still think the fruit and veg are much better here. The quick stuff is better in the UK- we don't have the ready meals, people still slow cook here which is probably a good thing. Cheese has always been better in the UK but we are definitely slowly catching up  and there is some good stuff coming from Tassie. Our fish is so different it is hard to compare.

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We travelled Europe extensively for a couple of months using our long service leave ending up with our kids in London. Its wonderful frequenting local shops with an amazing array of produce from all over the globe beautifully displayed! Marks & Spencers  I cannot fault the same applies to Waitrose. Stocked up with old favourites / loved walking through excellent department stores. The UK still can hold their head up high over quality!

 

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Fruit and veg is slightly better in Australia, but far more expensive. On the whole supermarkets are miles ahead in the UK and much more reasonably priced. As you guys mention, the convenience phenomenon of M&S and others doesn't seemed to have made it over to Aus.  

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20 hours ago, James Wilkinson said:

Fruit and veg is slightly better in Australia, but far more expensive. On the whole supermarkets are miles ahead in the UK and much more reasonably priced. As you guys mention, the convenience phenomenon of M&S and others doesn't seemed to have made it over to Aus.  

The shopping is the only thing I miss since returning to Australia.   Much bigger variety of clothing and household goods in the UK (and then of course, there's European shopping on holidays - I want to go back to Spain just to buy some more undies at El Corte Ingles!).   Can't say I thought the supermarkets were that much better than Oz except for the ready meal packages (a ready meal, dessert and wine), especially at M&S and Waitrose.  There was a bigger range of other products but as I'm a fairly basic cook, it didn't mean much to me!


Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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59 minutes ago, Marisawright said:

The shopping is the only thing I miss since returning to Australia.   Much bigger variety of clothing and household goods in the UK (and then of course, there's European shopping on holidays - I want to go back to Spain just to buy some more undies at El Corte Ingles!).   Can't say I thought the supermarkets were that much better than Oz except for the ready meal packages (a ready meal, dessert and wine), especially at M&S and Waitrose.  There was a bigger range of other products but as I'm a fairly basic cook, it didn't mean much to me!

I agree, the shopping for clothes etc is much better in the UK but I prefer the grocery shopping in Australia in many ways. Australia seems to try to promote 'local' produce quite well (for most things) and although not perfect, seems to have far less wasteful packaging on fruit and veg than Tesco etc in the UK. I much prefer having to go through baskets of fruit and veg to pick what I want than having perfect items every time, imported from Chile, in plastic boxes wrapped in more plastic packaging then flash frozen for the journey overseas. 

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:evilface_frowning_s

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On 10/09/2020 at 17:59, Joanne Donnelly said:

Hi, 

We flew on 16th August with Etihad.

1.  We had our gov travel exemption and the check in staff call immigration and check and people had been turned away. 

2.  We were covid tested at a local hospital and had a text only, the guy at check in nearly forgot to ask us! He was on his first shift after 6 months off and he laughed at forgetting. Ultimately others were being checked and showing phones and paperwork. 

3. Stricter rules on luggage and having to check in hand luggage so make sure you have a small case that can be checked in instead of backpacks.  We had backpacks so only one piece of hand luggage. Others had to rearrange luggage and check in their additional bags.  Usually you get 7kg and a 5kg hand bag etc... 

4.  The Q was quiet, the airport was very quiet, not much is open, no one was turned away and the flight the first leg had 78 people on it! I had 4 seats to myself and so did my partner and no one in front or behind for rows and rows! best flight ever. 

5. Etihad you have to wear a mask all the time, they provide you with one and there are masks at the airport (Sydney).

6. The staff are helpful and the plane was very clean...

7.  You must complete the passenger locator form for entering UK either before during or at the airport in London online only.  Heathrow was dead quiet and no Q's. The form does not specifically state .. did you transit through etc...? This info is only available when you read the guidelines on further information if you check this info... Technically transiting through UAE you have to isolate for 14 days.  However, at border control we spoke to the guy and he was like your coming from Oz, you dont need to, you should have ticked NO on the form for do you need to isolate Q?  he didnt appear to think we needed to and said not to bother and welcome home! He also said no one will check on us as there are no resources and he said if they do say you ticked the wrong box!  We left feeling very confused and bewildered, I thought of older people etc who would be less aware of the regulations (such as my in laws who would have found the whole process stressful) They would always ask an official and do what they are told by them... in this case told to not isolate.... go figure! 

8. We are back, shell shocked, glad the anxiety fuelled mad travel is over, feel like we have left the pandemic and its over as getting back was our biggest hurdle but clearly that is not the case! We are enjoying being back though its very odd, wearing a mask everytime you go to a shop and the way things are here compared to Oz is definitely noticeable and the strain and the message of say safe save lives is strong and people are paranoid and been leaving in such a strange way compared to Australia. Family get togethers have been odd and the no touching is horrible, plus new restrictions of no more than 6 people indoors or out is changing things again. 

9. The weather has been pleasant in the south, warm, sunny, rainy, cloudy, warm, breezy, late warm evenings, cold... all the usual but its been lovely, calm refreshing pleasant weather, I've enjoyed sitting in the sun in the evening with a glass of wine watching the slow long sunset and feeling a difference from the strong UV sun of Oz. 

10. Went into one pub and it was weird.... 

11. People are not always socially distancing in the tourist hotspot areas... 

12. Supermarket produce seems appalling but I am comparing it to Oz and the mid norther coast with all the growers markets and the general good produce of Oz and lack of plastic in supermarkets... So far not impressed with UK supermarkets... 

13.  The news is all about the same but its cheery and interesting to listen to, uplifting unified and decent music jokes and chats... 

14. I missed Oz for days and kept thinking about the beach the sunrises the kookaburras etc... Less so already and its not even a month.... 

15.  The countryside is spectacularly beautiful right now 🙂

 

 

Good update and info. Makes you realise why the UK can't get on top of it though with the attitude of the guy at the airport. Tell them you ticked the wrong box, spose he still thinks it's a bout of flu and nothing to worry about. 

All our relations are in the UK, luckily all been covid free but I know they aren't following rules, doing their own thing, catching up with family and I'll bet there's no mask wearing.

My sister lives with a guy who has a big property and likes working on it. She was bored so decided to move in with my nieces family and kids for a few weeks. No wonder the numbers are still high.

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Have to say the clothes are much better in the uk but also much more expensive. Better quality,though,so they would last longer

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43 minutes ago, starlight7 said:

Have to say the clothes are much better in the uk but also much more expensive. Better quality,though,so they would last longer

You have a point. I used to moan about not having Marks and Spencer in Australia for quality clothes at a reasonable price, but then I started paying more attention to the exchange rate and realised that M&S clothes cost as much as “posh” clothes in David Jones


Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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On 10/09/2020 at 19:59, Joanne Donnelly said:

Hi, 

We flew on 16th August with Etihad.

1.  We had our gov travel exemption and the check in staff call immigration and check and people had been turned away. 

2.  We were covid tested at a local hospital and had a text only, the guy at check in nearly forgot to ask us! He was on his first shift after 6 months off and he laughed at forgetting. Ultimately others were being checked and showing phones and paperwork. 

3. Stricter rules on luggage and having to check in hand luggage so make sure you have a small case that can be checked in instead of backpacks.  We had backpacks so only one piece of hand luggage. Others had to rearrange luggage and check in their additional bags.  Usually you get 7kg and a 5kg hand bag etc... 

4.  The Q was quiet, the airport was very quiet, not much is open, no one was turned away and the flight the first leg had 78 people on it! I had 4 seats to myself and so did my partner and no one in front or behind for rows and rows! best flight ever. 

5. Etihad you have to wear a mask all the time, they provide you with one and there are masks at the airport (Sydney).

6. The staff are helpful and the plane was very clean...

7.  You must complete the passenger locator form for entering UK either before during or at the airport in London online only.  Heathrow was dead quiet and no Q's. The form does not specifically state .. did you transit through etc...? This info is only available when you read the guidelines on further information if you check this info... Technically transiting through UAE you have to isolate for 14 days.  However, at border control we spoke to the guy and he was like your coming from Oz, you dont need to, you should have ticked NO on the form for do you need to isolate Q?  he didnt appear to think we needed to and said not to bother and welcome home! He also said no one will check on us as there are no resources and he said if they do say you ticked the wrong box!  We left feeling very confused and bewildered, I thought of older people etc who would be less aware of the regulations (such as my in laws who would have found the whole process stressful) They would always ask an official and do what they are told by them... in this case told to not isolate.... go figure! 

8. We are back, shell shocked, glad the anxiety fuelled mad travel is over, feel like we have left the pandemic and its over as getting back was our biggest hurdle but clearly that is not the case! We are enjoying being back though its very odd, wearing a mask everytime you go to a shop and the way things are here compared to Oz is definitely noticeable and the strain and the message of say safe save lives is strong and people are paranoid and been leaving in such a strange way compared to Australia. Family get togethers have been odd and the no touching is horrible, plus new restrictions of no more than 6 people indoors or out is changing things again. 

9. The weather has been pleasant in the south, warm, sunny, rainy, cloudy, warm, breezy, late warm evenings, cold... all the usual but its been lovely, calm refreshing pleasant weather, I've enjoyed sitting in the sun in the evening with a glass of wine watching the slow long sunset and feeling a difference from the strong UV sun of Oz. 

10. Went into one pub and it was weird.... 

11. People are not always socially distancing in the tourist hotspot areas... 

12. Supermarket produce seems appalling but I am comparing it to Oz and the mid norther coast with all the growers markets and the general good produce of Oz and lack of plastic in supermarkets... So far not impressed with UK supermarkets... 

13.  The news is all about the same but its cheery and interesting to listen to, uplifting unified and decent music jokes and chats... 

14. I missed Oz for days and kept thinking about the beach the sunrises the kookaburras etc... Less so already and its not even a month.... 

15.  The countryside is spectacularly beautiful right now 🙂

 

 

Hi thanks for the Info

I'm hoping travel in the next 3.5 weeks, I can't book anything yet as I'm flying with pets and carriers won't book them until 3 weeks out (I'm using dogtainers). I'm moving back home

My question is regarding the exemption, does everyone need one to fly? Even if you are citizen in another country? If so, what was your exemption please 

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Hi

 

Goodluck with everything much harder with pets!

https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/leaving-australia#toc-2

You require an exemption if your citizen AU or a perm resident so this depends on your situation.  Check out the link for info.  We applied online pretty straight forward had to attach details of proof as such of why we were requesting the exemption and we had our shipping invoice / details and our customs form for the UK (TOR).  Explained our circumstances and 4 weeks later we had the exemption emailed. The timeline is a undetermined amount of time as far as I can gather and you cannot apply more than 3 months in advance.  If you need to get one then apply as soon as you can so you have it in good time. :):)

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10 hours ago, Anita85 said:

My question is regarding the exemption, does everyone need one to fly? Even if you are citizen in another country? If so, what was your exemption please 

If you are a permanent resident of Australia, then you need an exemption to fly (even if you're also a citizen of another country).  Because you are leaving Australia permanently,  you'll have no trouble getting one. You'll need to submit proof that you're moving (e.g.  notice to work and landlord, shipping quotes etc)

Edited by Marisawright

Scot by birth, emigrated 1985 | Aussie husband applied UK spouse visa Jan 2015, granted March 2015, moved to UK May 2015 | Returned to Oz June 2016

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home itself strange." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

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I'm currently going through this now. I have been working with dogtainers for 7 weeks. We hope to fly on 19th oct but still cannot get confirmation. It's really frustrating but there is a backlog at Heathrow animal airport check in and lots of airlines not taking pets.

I won't book my ticket until I know the pets are definitely going which is stressful because flight options are becoming limited now and going up. But I'm scared to buy a ticket, leave and find out my pets are still in aus

I have an exemption, I applied and it was granted in less then 24 hours.

Pets have rabies, need to be done at least a month before. 

If you're shooting for November get onto a pet company now because I've been trying to book for 7 weeks. I'm totally flexible, can leave at any point, basically waiting for the green light and it's still hard.

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