Jolene and I decided to move forward with the Makkin Our Way Through Shetland trips for August 2021 before Scotland had opened for visitors after the lockdowns due to Covid-19. We both decided to err on the side of optimism: the vaccine was on its way, infection rates were dropping, and summer was coming. It takes time for people to get time off and to plan group tours, and we wanted to get out and see this beautiful world with you, so we moved ahead.
As we write this, the rumor is that the UK will open to vaccinated American travelers this summer without the need to quarantine. But that rumor has been floating around for about 5 weeks now. What if the powers that be never get around to letting foreigners travel freely this summer?
You can imagine that Jolene and I have been biting our nails, lighting incense, praying, and doing about anything else we can think of to get the all clear. But we have also been constructing alternative plans just in case.
First, we need you to do your part: You will note that on the Island Vista site where you sign up for the trips, we recommended strongly that if you want to join us for the trips this year, you arrange to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before you head to the UK. That means receiving your final shot a full two weeks before to expect to get on the plane. We are asking you to do this because it is very likely that your ability to enter the country without having to quarantine will depend on whether you are vaccinated or not.
We are not trying to make you have a vaccine. That is between you and your health care provider. We are just trying to be realistic about which way the wind is blowing. It is highly likely that these trips will be repeated. If you are unable to get the vaccine, the political situation may change down the line to allow you to still travel, but it’s looking like for now, vaccination will likely be a requirement to travel freely in the UK.
Second, we set ourselves a deadline to make the call as to whether the trip can go forward or not. Taking into account the need to book travel to Shetland and time needed to make cancelations at venues, etc, we will be deciding whether we can move forward with the August trips on June 26, 2021.
If it gets to be June 26 and vaccinated Americans are still not allowed into Scotland without having to quarantine, the trip will be rescheduled for May 2022. You will have the option to join us on the trip then or shift your trip to the August 2022 tours.
For now, we are only asking people to make the initial, non-refundable deposit to reserve a space on the trip. Final payment for the trip is not due until July 24, 2021, well after when we will need to make the decision as to whether the trip can go forward or not. Your deposit will hold your space for August 2021, or for May 2022 or August 2022, if the trip needs to be moved due to ongoing travel restrictions.
Up next: Do you need travel insurance? (Spoiler alert: Yes!) Watch for the post in the coming days!