The world of summer travel has finally opened. Sort of.
Here the Daily Mail’s travel team answers readers’ questions about Covid testing for green-list countries, when travel will open up to France and Italy, and more.
Q. I’m hoping to book a holiday to a green-list country. What tests will I need?
Holidaymakers will still have to arrange pre-departure lateral test and on their return Covid PCR tests
A. You will be required to take a lateral flow test within 72 hours of your return flight to England, followed by a PCR test on or before the second day of your return. You will not be required to self-isolate during this time.
The UK Government has said that it is considering providing free lateral flow testing kits for holidaymakers to take abroad. You are also likely to need proof of a negative PCR taken within 72 hours of your outbound flight, depending on the destination’s requirements. See gov.uk.
Q. Can I holiday in a country on the amber list?
A. Technically, yes, but it could be tricky. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said yesterday that Britons should not be travelling to amber countries. You will be required either to quarantine at home for ten days on your return and take a PCR test on days two and eight (as well as a lateral flow test before the return flight).
Or you can pay for an additional ‘Test to Release’ on day five to end self-isolation early. You could be in an amber country that turns red, meaning you would need to quarantine at a government-approved hotel on your return at a cost of £1,750.
Q. Can I travel to all the countries mentioned on the green list?
A. No, borders in many green-list countries remain closed, including Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
Australia has been added to the Government’s ‘green list’ despite its borders being closed
Q. How often will the green list be reviewed?
A. Every three weeks, with the prospect of more ‘greens’ being added after the first review on June 7. Mr Shapps hopes ‘the more traditional tourist destinations will be unlocked’ over the summer.
Q. How will the Government decide whether a country should turn green?
A. The list is based on factors including a country’s vaccination programme, rates of infection, emerging new variants and access to reliable scientific data.
Q. Could a country suddenly be removed from the green list?
A. The Government is introducing a ‘green watchlist’, which will help identify the countries at risk of moving from green to amber. If a country reports a surge in ‘variants of concern’, it could be removed from the green list with little warning. To avoid losing your money, book with a reputable package holiday provider.
Q. When can we expect Spain and Greece to be added to the green list?
A. Spain, our favourite holiday destination, has vaccinated almost 30 per cent of its population with the first dose, making it a strong contender to be added on June 7. Greece is slightly further behind, having vaccinated 22 per cent.
Q. And what about France and Italy?
A. France, Western Europe’s most vaccine-hesitant country, has inoculated just 25 per cent of its population with a first dose. Italy is slightly ahead at 26 per cent. Both are likely to hit 40 per cent by early June, meaning they could be added to the green list.
Q. There are rumours of a UK-U.S. travel corridor. Is that likely to happen?
A. The U.S. government upgraded its warning against UK travel last month, increasing the risk to ‘Level 4: Do Not Travel’ — its highest. This was a blow to airlines. President Biden is planning to reopen its borders to some countries in time for Independence Day on July 4, when a UK-U.S. travel corridor could be introduced.
Q. What are the rules around children needing Covid tests?
A. The UK’s ‘green list’ testing requirements only apply to those aged over 11. However, each country has different rules for testing children on arrival. These can be checked either on gov.uk.
Holiday hotspots like Spain and Italy could be added to the green list in the coming months
Q. Where can I find the cheapest tests?
A. The Government has been working to reduce the price of testing, with PCR tests previously costing around £120-160. Prices have been slashed significantly in recent weeks, with one government-approved provider, Eurofins, now charging £45. TUI, meanwhile, has said it will subsidise the cost of Covid testing for its customers, offering packages for between £20 and £90.
Q. I’ve booked a holiday to Turkey in July. Will I be able to go?
A. Unlikely. The country went into an 18-day lockdown last week following a record surge in cases and was added to the UK’s red list last night.
Q. What about the Greek and Spanish islands?
A. Islands are being assessed as part of the mainland but this is likely to change at the next review on June 7, when the Canaries, Balearics and Greek islands could go green, even if the mainlands remain amber.
Q. How do I show proof that I have had both jabs?
A. Mr Shapps said the NHS app would be ready for travellers to show vaccination status in time for May 17. Travellers who do not own a smartphone can request a letter to verify vaccination status.
Meanwhile, the EU is separately creating a ‘Digital Green Certificate’ as a form of vaccine passport for members of the EU, aiming to have it ready for mid-June. The hope is that the two will be widely accepted and compatible.
Q. I live in Wales. Does the green list apply to me?
A. No. The devolved nations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have not set dates for the restart of foreign holidays.