The coronavirus pandemic continues to be with us, and despite almost 70 million doses of the vaccine being given in the UK, we’re still being faced with restrictions in our daily lives - one of the most significant being travel.
While the vaccine rollout has been an overwhelming success in the UK, the rest of the world has some catching up to do. While some travel restrictions have been eased, we’ve already seen with Portugal (once on the ‘green’ list, now moved to ‘amber’), that things aren’t as straightforward as they seem.
So if you’re just as confused about the latest UK COVID travel guidelines, here’s a simple breakdown to help you get your head around it.
Non-essential foreign travel has been off-limits for a while, but on 17 May, the UK Government introduced its traffic light system, which has categorised countries into either green, amber or red destinations based on their case rates and other risk factors, each with their own rules and guidance for travel:
Different countries have different rules for entering, so even if a country is listed as a ‘green’ country in the UK, each country will need you to follow specific guidance, which most likely includes a negative test before departure. Always check the guidance in advance before travelling.
Before you return to the UK, you will need to take a COVID test, and book a test to be taken on Day 2 of your arrival back in the country. If your test comes back positive, you will need to isolate.
There aren’t many countries on the green list right now, and even countries such as Australia and New Zealand are still operating strict travel procedures that mean those countries are still off-limits for holidays and general travel.
Currently, people are being advised NOT to travel to amber countries. If, however, you do travel to one of these countries, you will be expected to self-isolate for 10 days after your return to the UK.
You will need to take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8. There is a test and release option that you will need to pay for, which will allow you to end your quarantine after day 5 if your test is negative.
Amber countries currently include most of Europe, the United States and destinations in Asia and Africa.
Travel to red countries is only permitted under exceptional circumstances. People are being told NOT to travel to a country on the red list. However, if you are returning to the UK from a red list country, you will need to follow very strict guidance.
Before you travel to the UK, you will need to carry out a COVID test, book a quarantine hotel package for 10 days, and book two other tests. Once you arrive in the UK, you’ll need to quarantine in the hotel, and complete two further COVID tests before you can leave.
Changes to the traffic light system can happen at any time depending on the changing situation within different countries. They will be reviewed periodically, with the possibility of more countries being added to the green list in the coming months. Keep an eye on UK COVID travel guidelines for the latest information.
With government ministers advising Brits to ‘holiday at home’ this year, you’re probably wondering where you should go and what are the top UK holiday destinations this year.
The good news is that there are no travel restrictions between different parts of the UK right now. So if you want to pay a visit to Northern Ireland, enjoy a city break in Edinburgh or jet off to Jersey, it’s entirely possible to do so. In fact, you’ll be helping local economies get back on their feet after a tough year.
Some of the most popular UK travel destinations this year include west Wales, Scotland and Cornwall. Staycations have a lot of appeal, with many self-catering accommodation options available, with luxuries such as hot tubs, swimming pools and barbecues/pizza ovens high on everybody’s wish lists.
It’s also a great time to enjoy a city break. London is always a popular choice, as is Birmingham (and the world’s largest Primark), Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff. With restaurants, bars and shops open again, it’s a great time to take in some of the UK’s most popular cities.
With foreign travel off the cards for the foreseeable future, a UK staycation could be the way forward to help you enjoy a summer holiday. Let’s just hope the weather is in our favour this year!