Summer holidays are back on the cards as the government issues a foreign travel update.
Foreign holidays have been very much viewed as a pipe dream throughout 2021, with fines handed out to those that undertook “non-essential travel”. As summer approaches, however, that’s all set to change. May 17 marks the next stages of England’s roadmap out of lockdown and – along with openings to indoor hospitality, museums and more – a return to the hallowed summer holiday will be permitted, as UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has revealed the destinations we’ll be allowed to travel to in under a fortnight. [Featured Image: Patryk Kosmider, Shutterstock].
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has long suggested that some foreign travel will see some “opening up”, come May 17, while noting the importance of remaining cautious. With the full details now unveiled in today’s press conference, there are twelve countries that have made it onto the “green list”, and are thus available for a holiday in just ten days. These are Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira), Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Singapore, Brunei, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands, Israel, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, and Ascension Island.
Countries in the green list will be reviewed every three weeks in order to see whether it’s safe for us to visit, and the government has promised to withdraw any nations from the green list quickly, should the situation dictate it. It’s also worth noting that these nations will have their own rules on accepting tourists, so you may find some examples (Australia and New Zealand stand out) that aren’t allowing UK tourists yet, and others that still have strict quarantine measures. We’re advised to check the Foreign Office website in advance of any trip to find out local travel restrictions.
For the foreseeable future, this traffic light system will be used to place countries in the red, amber, or green zones, depending on the risks that coronavirus in that country poses. Upon returning from a green country, travellers won’t have to quarantine, but will be required to take a Covid test.
Here are the details of England’s traffic light system for travel:
- Green: we can visit these countries from May 17. Arrivals will need to take a pre-departure test as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day 2 of their arrival back into England – but will not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) or take any additional tests, halving the cost of tests on their return from holiday
- Amber: we’re still being asked not to visit these places. Arrivals will need to quarantine for a period of 10 days and take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 with the option for Test to Release on day 5 to end self-isolation early
- Red: the places we shouldn’t visit unless in the most extreme circumstances. Arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for ‘red list’ countries which include a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and PCR testing on day 2 and 8
Favourite tourist spots such as France, Spain, and Greece are still on the amber list for the time being, but it’s hopeful they’ll soon be switched to the green list as the coronavirus situation in each improves. In today’s announcement, Shapps repeated the government’s stance that they’ll be “very, very tough” when handling the return of international travel, and that any changes will depend solely on the current data on Covid-19 in the UK and across the world. He also confirmed that the NHS smartphone app will be used as a vaccine certificate from mid-May, with users able to prove their vaccination status at the touch of a button (paper certificates are also planned for those without smartphones).