Malta, Madeira and the Balearic Islands have all made it onto the Government’s travel green list, meaning you’ll be able to visit these destinations without having to quarantine on your return as of 30th June. However, it's not all sunshine and out-of-office - not only has the news been considered controversial by some in the travel industry, but many of the countries on the list aren't actually accepting tourists at the moment, although some are aiming to change that later this month. Here's what the new rules will mean for your summer holiday this year.
Several destinations were given added to the UK's travel green list in an announcement on Thursday 24th June, including Malta, Madeira and the Balearic Island, taking the total number of green-list destinations to 27. The list also includes Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha and the South Sandwich Islands *frantically googles the last two*.
The Government’s travel traffic light system has caused uproar in some sections of the travel industry, with many concerned that holidays to popular destinations with low-infection, high-vaccination rates, like Malta, Spain and some of the smaller Greek Islands, might not happen this summer. Plus, all new destinations have been added to what's called the "green watchlist" which essentially means they're at risk of turning amber.
So should I book a holiday abroad?
Destinations included on the green list mean quarantine-free trips when non-essential international travel from England became legal on May 17. But before you snap up an Oz all-inclusive or Singapore adventure, it’s worth noting that the list isn’t reciprocal: the majority of the green-listed countries are currently closed to tourists #unfortunate. Plus, those green watchlist countries could turn amber at any minute.
However, the good news is that the government confirmed its intention to let fully vaccinated people to skip quarantine after arriving to the UK from an amber-listed country, provided they take a test. The government plans to announce further details on this in July with the intention to bring this into effect "later in the summer."
Meanwhile Iceland announced back in March that anyone fully vaccinated would be welcome to travel to the country, though they will still need to take a (free of charge) test on arrival.
If you’re feeling sun-deprived and desperate to get away, consider places like Pestana Carlton - a beautiful hotel with outdoor and indoor pools on a Madeira clifftop from £388pp and the luxurious The Rock Hotel in Gibraltar, two nights including flights from £223pp.
How soon will the green list change?
Back in May, Grant Shapps apologised that more countries couldn’t be put on the list, but said the traffic light system would be reviewed every three weeks.
He said, "I regret favourite summer destinations like France, Spain and Greece are not yet included, but every three weeks from reopening, we'll be reviewing the countries to see how and where we can expand the green list."
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not said when they might ease travel restrictions, but Shapps said all four of the UK's chief medical officers agreed on the principles behind the traffic light system.
The Department for Transport also stated, "Given that the virus is still spreading in many parts of the world, people should not be travelling to amber or red countries for leisure."
All destinations on the green list
Malta, Maderia, The Balearic Islands, Israel, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Iceland, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands, St Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tristan de Cunha and Ascension Island. You can see the full green list here.
What green means: If you're returning from a green-list (low risk) country, you won’t have to quarantine when you arrive back in England (unless you have a positive test), but you will have to take a pre-departure test followed by a PCR test (which cost around £120) after you’ve landed.
The amber list
Locations on the amber list include Portugal, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece (and the Greek Islands), Montenegro, Spain and the United States. You can see the full amber list here.
What amber means: Arrivals must quarantine for 10 days, take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on day two and day eight with the option for "test to release" on day five to end self-isolation early.
The red list
The red list includes Turkey, Argentina, Brazil and India. See the full red list here.
What red means: You shouldn’t be travelling to a red list country unless it's essential. It's also VERY costly: you'll have to quarantine for 10 days in a Government specified hotel, which can cost up to £1750pp, take a pre-departure test and PCR tests on days two and eight. Travellers who try to cover up their arrival from a red list country face jail sentences of up to 10 years. And anyone who tries to avoid mandatory hotel quarantine will face fines of up to £10,000.
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