There have been several new blows to the foreign holiday situation, with no additions to the UK Government’s ‘green list‘, and Portugal being moved to ’amber‘ status on Thursday.
So, while it is legal for Britons to travel abroad, many restrictions stand in their way under England’s traffic light system; and only those returning from the 11 green-listed destinations can avoid quarantine, of which only Iceland and Gibraltar are now viable holiday destinations.
At the latest review on June 3, seven amber-listed countries were moved to the red list: Egypt, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Bahrain, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago and Afghanistan.
The rating of each country is decided based on the proportion of its population that has been vaccinated, its infection rates, the prevalence of variants of concern and its capacity to sequence their genomes.
As for staycations, holidays in England, Wales and Scotland are back on, as is cross-border travel. Hotels and self-catering accommodation were permitted to open, along with indoor hospitality, on May 17. Travellers in Northern Ireland are still subject to local rules.
We take a look at the key questions on the resumption of foreign holidays and how travel is opening up within the UK.
Have domestic holidays resumed?
Yes. The Prime Minister enacted stage three of his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown for England on May 17. That means six people or two households can mix inside, pubs and restaurants can offer indoor dining, and overnight stays at hotels, B&Bs and hostels are allowed. Self-catering accommodation (including camping and glamping) has been allowed to open since April.
Holidays are now permitted in Wales and Scotland, too, under the same rules, and cross-border travel is allowed (with the exception of movement into and out of Glasgow).
Have overseas holidays resumed?
Yes, foreign holidays resumed on May 17, putting an end to the national travel ban that was introduced on March 22. The latest green list of countries from which holidaymakers can return to England without facing quarantine was published on Thursday, June 3, with the next review pencilled in for June 28.
The entry rules to each of the “green” destinations differ, with many currently closed to Britons and/or not typical places for a holiday. Currently, this list includes: Iceland, Gibraltar, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Faroe Islands, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension & Tristan da Cunha and Israel.
Do I need to take a test before travelling back to England?
Yes. You must take a test 72 hours before departure. If you fail to do so, you will be denied boarding, or risk a fine of up to £500 on arrival back in the UK. You can find the Government’s rules on tests before departure, here.
Do people arriving into England from “red” or “amber” countries have to go into quarantine or self-isolation?
Yes, all those returning from amber list countries face a period of self-isolation at home (while those who have been in a red list country in the previous 10 days will face a stay in a quarantine hotel). You will need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form before arriving in England, and then self-isolate at home for ten days. And you will need to take a Covid test on the second and eighth days of your self-isolation, costing £210. You can book your tests through the official Government portal here. You can opt to pay for an additional PCR test to potentially cut your isolation short (should you test negative) under the “test to release” scheme.
Self-isolation or hotel quarantine awaits all arrivals into England Credit: Getty
Who needs to go into a quarantine hotel?
Arrivals from 43 countries on the red list travelling into England must go into a mandatory ten-day quarantine in a Government-approved hotel. The latest editions to this list, announced on June 3, include Egypt, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The full list of 43 hotel quarantine countries are: South Africa, DRC, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Seychelles, Panama, Cape Verde, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela, UAE, Burundi, Somalia, Rwanda, Oman, Qatar, Ethiopia, Kenya, Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Turkey, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
How much does hotel quarantine cost?
Hotel quarantine costs £1,750 for an individual travelling alone, which includes the hotel, transport and the tests on days two and eight. For an additional adult or child aged over 12, the cost is £650, or for a child aged between five and 12, £325. There is no charge for children under the age of five. Those already in receipt of income-related benefits can apply for a deferred payment plan.
Anyone who tries to avoid hotel quarantine will face a penalty of up to £10,000, said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Where might we travel this summer?
The traffic light system determines where we can travel without facing quarantine on return. As before, this is currently just 11 destinations, with few accessible to British holidaymakers. There will no expansion of the green list until at least the next review date which is penciled in for June 28. In reality, it means foreign holidays to most destinations are unlikely to get going before July or even August.
Iceland is one of only two viable quarantine-free holiday options for Britons at the moment Credit: Getty
Want to book?
If you are still itching to book for a future date, it might be worth working through our consumer champion Nick Trend’s checklist, first:
1. Can you secure the holiday with a low, or even a zero, deposit? If so, double-check the booking conditions: the small print for some arrangements may only require a small amount upfront but still commits you to higher cancellation charges if you decide not to go ahead.
2. What is the company’s cancellation policy? Many airlines and operators are now offering much more flexible booking conditions and free postponements. BA, for example, is allowing new bookers to change dates and destination without incurring a fee, although you will need to pay any difference in price. This applies to journeys that are due to have been completed by Aug 31, 2021.
3. Will your money be financially secure? Very few travel companies are on a strong financial footing and some might not make it into next summer. So make sure you book with an Atol-protected tour operator or agent. If booking directly with an airline, make sure your travel insurance includes cover for financial failure, or pay with a credit card – ensuring a refund if the carrier collapses. If you book directly with a company based abroad, it may be very hard to get a refund if it goes out of business or your holiday is cancelled.
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