In line with the planned roadmap in England, the UK Government has now allowed international travel from 17th May 2021. The use of a three-tiered list to categorise countries defines measures needed when returning to England, alongside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s advice on leaving for other countries.
This article breaks down the different sources of travel advice, to ensure that you are fully informed when deciding to travel through this summer and into the winter.
Please note, this advice is correct as of 26 May 2021 and applies to England only – the specifics of the advice, and the countries they apply to, may change at short notice, and you are encouraged to check carefully before planning, booking or travelling.
The Green/Amber/Red List
This three-tiered list defines the quarantine period needed when returning to the UK, from no quarantine on the green list to a ten-day hotel quarantine period upon return from a Red List country.
Red List countries are those with high case rates of a particular variant of COVID-19, known as “variants of concern”, which are either more transmissible or deadlier than the predominant strain here in the UK. As a result, you should not travel to a Red List country at all.
Amber List countries have high case rates but without the “variant of concern” element. As such, travel is permitted to these countries for a select number of reasons, such as business or education where it cannot be done here in the UK.
More information on the “Traffic Light System”, including a list of countries on each level, can be found on the Government website here.
The full list of requirements upon return to England is as follows;
- Green List – No quarantine is required. A PCR test must be taken on Day 5.
- Amber List – A 10-day quarantine at home is required, with mandatory testing on days 2 & 8, which must be booked before travelling to the UK. You may take a supplementary test on day 5 to end your quarantine early.
- Red List – A 10-day quarantine in a designated hotel at your own expense is required, with mandatory PCR tests conducted on days 2 & 8, all of which must be booked before returning to the UK. You cannot test on day 5 to end your quarantine early.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Advice
Existing separately to the three-tiered list, FCDO advice details which countries it is safe to travel to – rather than from, as above. The biggest impact this could have is on your travel insurance, which may not provide cover if you are travelling against this advice – please read your policy details very carefully.
No element of any Ski Club Travel Insurance policy, including that provided as part of Platinum Membership, will provide any cover in relation to a destination to where the FCDO has advised against all or all but essential travel. For more details on cover provided, please see here.
The FCDO has an extremely limited ability to offer consular assistance to British citizens whilst abroad in areas to which they have advised against all or all but essential travel.
The FCDO has been advising against all but essential travel globally since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Several countries have now been marked as safe to travel to – broadly speaking, those on the Green List are considered safe to travel to, but a destination on the Green List is not a guarantee of the FCDO recommending it is safe to travel there.
Similarly, in a few exceptional circumstances, destinations on the Amber List have had their non-travel advice removed. This includes the Canary Islands and several specific Greek Islands – but not the mainland or other islands of Spain and Greece. Norway and Japan also have no FCDO travel advice levied against them. These destinations, however, remain on the Amber List, and as such you should only travel to them with good reason.
Other Countries’ Restrictions
Whilst some countries have relaxed rules to match their placement on the Green List, many countries are still employing restrictions on international travellers. This includes Australia and New Zealand, two Green List countries, which have almost completely banned incoming travellers from overseas including their own citizens!
Portugal previously relaxed their own restrictions when they became a Green List country on 17th May – Portugal has since been relegated to the Amber List from 7th June 2021.
You may still have to provide proof of a negative test within a certain time of your departure. It is important to check these requirements carefully before travelling, or you could risk being denied entry.