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London in uncertain pandemic times

It had been some time since I came to London for the last time, I am not too sure when it was, probably 2017/2018. 🤔 I like the British in the way that everything is made differently here, sometimes it even makes me wonder who is right in the end. The skimmed milk is red, the drive on the left side of the road, they are crazy into fitness and at the same time spend their weekends in the local Pub.

Post pandemic and post Brexit situation

I just arrived in London with the Eurostar speed train, aside from the fact it was almost empty, I did not notice anything that different compared to before Brexit and also before the pandemic.
Crossing the border felt almost like the same, security has always been quite tight for the Eurostar so in the end it doesn’t make much of a difference for passengers.
I happen again to THAT ONE DAY #sarcasm where on both sides of the channel Metro/Underground are being renovated, nothing special, except for the fact I feel so lost at first in the corridors.
Everything is expensive here, but also the payment experience is seamless, where in Paris they are so proud to get rid of paper metro ticket this year #LOL, here you can pay and enter directly the subway by swiping your credit card or watch on the sensor. Apple Pay and other payment systems are everywhere, I am not even sure why they still have ATMs except to support underground economy…

Yesterday, Boris had announced that all covid rules where abandoned, it feels unreal, it’s not like if they are still having around 300 covid related casualties per day… London Mayor managed to save at least the fact that you still need to cover your nose and mouth in the city transportations. Not sure many people read about it, I feel like I am from the only few weirdos wearing N95 masks 😷. I felt a bit probably like how Asian tourists were feeling while being the only ones wearing masks before Pandemic times.

I noticed though, a LOT less french speakers around me, I was heading to Fulham where most French usually settle in the city, that was unexpected, it’s likely to be more related to the Brexit that to the pandemic.

What is a lateral flow test ?

Day 2 lateral flow

A lateral flow test is nothing more than a rapid antigenic test. The standard kit we all love to play with at home with, where you can see in 15min if you are positive or not.
Well, first of all, coming to the UK and being fully vaccinated, you don’t need to quarantine but still need to comply to a what’s called a DAY 2 lateral flow test.
To be able to complete your passenger locator form prior to departure, you will need the booking confirmation code that will prove the British government that you booked the antigen test you will need to perform in the 48h after arrival in the country.

They are plenty of private companies offering those tests in London, with different prices, different delivery time, different platforms. It’s quite hard to chose from the giant list they provide you with, it does feel like a big jungle, and so you know it’s a specialty here, between the price you are supposed to be paying and the amount and the final invoice there is ALWAYS a surprise.

My advice, pay with a prepaid card like on Revolut for example, that will be used that one time for this amount and then destroyed, to make sure those littles companies don’t charge you extras…

The kit will be delivered to your place of stay, it will have a QR code and you will through an app, confirm the result to get a certificated result.

Lateral flow test to leave the country

You will also probably need an antigenic test when wanting to go back to the EU. You can either use the same system as you used the first time, get tested in a dedicated center in the street.

My advice, target either a test center in the airport, arriving a few hours earlier, or if you leave like me by Eurostar, either one of the two testing center in Saint Pancras Station. Results are available within the hour for £40, book in advance.

Is everything back to normal ?

It’s hard to say, there are still a few places where they will ask you to provide a test result to attend, while most pubs and bars don’t care at all about it. Needless to say it is you own choice to either wear or not wear a mask inside stores. Given how many people don’t bother wearing one anymore, I would highly recommend to wear a FFP2 mask.

Must terraces I’ve been too where still offering QR code menus to order, which has the convenience of offering apple pay, but still feels a bit too much like the pandemic.. Plenty of businesses are abandoned, while cost of living has not go down at all, one house nearby my place was sold last week for £9 million… Cost of food has increased a lot, cost of energy went through the roof. At least now people might finally care about isolating their old victorian style houses, finally.

This situation reminds me a big like what Louis Rossmann Youtube channel has been describing the last year about NYC. Landlords are not lowering prices.

Like in Paris, the transportation company here is losing TONS of money compared to previous years, citizen either left the London to live in the countryside in bigger houses, young professionals are working from Mexico or Thailand and the rest continue to work from home.
Wagons are full in the morning, not because many people are going back to work but more because there are a lot less trains.

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