The new normal: enjoying a London visit and staying safe

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Safe Travel

It’s being called the ‘new normal’. Whether you like the phrase or not, whether you feel anything about our current Covid-19 world is ‘normal’ or not; if you’re wanting to visit and enjoy what London has to offer, you have to accept the ‘new’ very safety-conscious, slightly slimmed-down version of London that’s presently available to travellers.

Because that’s simply the way things are right now – our hotel is open for business, as is much of the UK capital and, together, just like Londoners themselves, we’re only too happy to welcome visitors and urge them to take the hugely necessary precautions they have to, but fully engage in and get the absolute most out of their time in this most extraordinary of world cities. This is a new normal, but life goes on and so does London – do you want to be a part of it?

If the answer to that question’s ‘yes’ (and we certainly hope it is) then you’ll definitely have questions – questions, questions and more questions! – as you look into booking a stay with us at Montcalm Royal London House hotel to enjoy the sights and sounds of London. What safety protocols have to be followed in the city? Where can you actually go? What can you actually see and do? And where to visit online for the very latest information in these (let’s face it) pretty changeable times we’re living through…?

Are you allowed to travel to London?

At the time of writing (and depending of the very specific pandemic-related guidelines/ laws in place wherever you’re travelling from), the answer to this question is yes… a very big yes. London – and the UK, as a whole – is open to visitors from throughout the country and overseas and is definitely encouraging travellers to experience its terrific tourism experiences.

So, that means you’re more than welcome to rediscover the London places you’ve been to before and, of course, discover new ones. However (and this really can’t be stressed enough), it’s critical that, just as you would at home wherever you’re travelling from, you’re responsible and sensible and follow the official social-distancing guidelines in place in London and the UK, at exactly the time of your visit.

Plus, while the UK is absolutely open to international visitors at the time of writing, it’s important to note that many countries around the globe have travel restrictions in place (and the UK itself has something of a moveable feast of a small number of nations from whom it’s not allowing international travel and several days’ worth of quarantine upon entry into the UK). Therefore, if you’re an international visitor planning to come to the UK, it’s imperative you check the UK government’s and your own government's guidelines for advice before booking a stay and attempting to enter the country.

What you can see and do in London

As noted, then, London has most definitely reopened and is ready and waiting for your visit. In terms of finding out just exactly what is open and welcoming visitors, though, you’re best advised to check before you travel and, especially, before you step out of your hotel and head off somewhere, expecting it to be open. In general terms, you’ll find a large number of restaurants, pubs cafés, shops of all kinds, markets, parks and gardens (big and small), heritage sites, and a more limited number of museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship are open. It is possible to travel via public transport, too; although, should you choose to, we urge you to follow the advice below.

It ought to be noted, however, that – at the time of writing – London’s West End theatre venues and sporting stadiums and arenas are yet to reopen to the public. If you’re in any doubt of what is and isn’t open and what you are and aren’t allowed to do (these rules and guidelines are, of course, subject to change), it’s a very good idea to visit the UK Government’s website for official clarification.

How to stay safe in London

Once you’ve arrived and begun your stay in the capital, it’s obviously up to you – as well as the accommodation you’re staying in and any location you choose to visit or eat out and drink in – to keep as safe as you can, both for your health and that of everyone else in your party and with whom you come into contact.

Naturally, this begins with your accommodation (and by checking out its safety credentials before you travel). We urge you to choose somewhere where you genuinely feel the protocols, guidelines and practical steps in place are thorough and good enough; including, for instance, the likes of effective room santization. For your peace of mind and more, you can check the steps we, as a hotel ourselves, have taken to reopen here and our group-wide Montcalm precautionary measures here.

Outside of where you’re staying, you’re strongly advised to get around by cycling or walking, as much as possible. London’s public transport network is taking as many precautions as it feasibly can to ensure social-distancing measures and good santisation of its areas and surfaces are in place, but as you doubtless appreciate, these measures aren’t entirely easy to ensure in the necessarily limited spaces afforded travellers on London Underground (Tube) trains and buses.

So, if you do travel by public transport at all, you’re definitely urged to avoid doing so at peak times and to always, always wear a face mask/ covering. Be sure to check the very latest public transport information at the Transport for London (TfL) website and be smart by using the TfL Go app to plan your journeys around the city in advance, so you avoid peak-time travel and can social-distance as best as is possible across its network of Underground and Overground trains and buses.

What to do if you feel unwell in London

So then, should the worst happen and you develop what you think may well be Covid-19 symptoms while you’re visiting London, you must arrange a Coronavirus test using the address of the accommodation you’re staying at. How to order a test? Easy; just order one from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) website or telephone 119.

It’s absolutely necessary you notify your accommodation immediately you feel unwell. If you feel well enough to travel directly home, you and those you are with can do so, providing you use only private transport and no public transport – you don’t need to wait for your test results (which are issued to you by text or email) to return home in this scenario and in this manner.

However, if your test turns out to be positive, you must, again, notify your accommodation immediately. Plus, if you haven’t felt well enough to return home or practically can’t return home (for instance, due to financial constraints on changing travel plans or if you can only return home by using public transport), then you should self-isolate for 10 days and so should those who’ve travelled with you at your accommodation – telephone 111 for more advice, here. Be aware, though, that the accommodation you’re staying (hopefully, with its disinfected hotel rooms) at isn’t at all obliged to provide self-isolation facilities, so if remaining at your hotel incurs further costs you will be liable.

As you may well have suspected, should your test result turn out to be negative, you (and whoever you may be travelling with) are entirely free to stay in London and continue to make the absolute most of your visit as you had been – that is, so long as the NHS’s Test and Trace service hasn’t asked required you to self-isolate. If you do start to feel well, though, be sure to phone 111 for further advice.

Please note, if you’re staying in London and are contacted by the NHS’s Track and Trace service, they’re highly likely to tell you you’ve been in close contact with someone who’s tested positive for Covid-19 and, therefore, required to self-isolate at home for 14 days (if that’s possible). In that scenario, you should follow all the steps outlined above for someone who feels unwell and been tested themselves (for instance, you can return home, too, so long as you use no public transport). However, again, you will definitely be urged to self-isolate for 14 days once you’ve returned home (either elsewhere in the UK or overseas) because you could be carrying the Covid-19 virus – if, unlike you, they haven’t been contacted by Track and Trace, those you may be travelling with don’t need to self-isolate.

Safety checklist

So, to conclude this section on keeping safe in the capital, if you remember anything specifically when it comes to safety in and about London, make sure you remember these four points:

Visit the UK government’s Coronavirus website if you’re worried about not understanding anything about rules and protocols while staying in London

» Regularly wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and warm water; carry around hand sanitiser with you, if you can (don’t just rely on hotel sanitation)

» Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue whenever you sneeze and cough

» Don’t use public transport at peak times; if possible, walk or cycle instead

» Wear a face mask/ covering at certain times and in certain places (public transport, shops, museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship) and don’t forget to practice social-distancing, aside from anyone you’re travelling with – one metre apart, at least

Don’t hesitate to contact the NHS by calling 111 for further health information and if you feel unwell and are worried you may have Covid-19 symptoms

Check our Montcalm Covid-19 update for the latest guidelines and information regarding what we’re doing to keep you safe at our hotels.