Tuesday 22 September 2020

The Return to London After Spending Lockdown in New Zealand

Whenever possible I try to minimize the amount of unnecessary stress in my life.  Sometimes that involves flying to the other side of the planet during a global pandemic.

This can be considered as part two of my "What I did during the Coronavirus Pandemic" post - a series motivated by the old "What I did during the school holidays" essay theme from childhood.

In mid-July I made the decision to book my flights back to London.  By this point the infection rate in the UK looked like it was going down, and my old accommodation was less at risk, but a key motivator for moving back was to ensure that my tax situation would not become complicated due to the country of residence situation.

When I went online to book my travel I was thinking about the risk of catching the virus en route, so I aimed to minimise my travel time and transit stops.  I wanted to catch up with friends in Christchurch, so had that as my departure point.  Australia - particularly Melbourne - was experience an increase in cases of the virus, so I decided to avoid any transit stop there.  Hong Kong was still not looking great due to political unrest, so I ruled out having any stop there.  Singapore looked like a safe option, and had been okay when I had travelled from London to Christchurch a few months earlier.

A few weeks later I came to realise that I had made a slight boo-boo when booking my flights.  Although New Zealand was on the UK's list of countries that it was okay to travel from without having to go into self-isolation when arriving back, Singapore was not on the list.  By including a transit stop in Singapore airport in my return flights to get me back to London I had destined myself to 14 days of being stuck in the flat.

Part of my pre-flight entertainment in Christchurch was to try out setting up a delivery of groceries to my UK address so that I would have enough sustenance during my second round of self-isolation.  As the supply / demand balance of online grocery orders had gone into a sensible level, I was able to schedule a delivery for a few hours after my return.

Even with the benefit of hindsight I don't regret my decision to travel via Singapore.  Realistically, given the limited range of countries within the UK's "travel corridor", if I had set up a travel route only involving those countries I believe that I would have been more at risk of becoming infected.

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