Demand for flights to Portugal soars by 660% as holidaymakers rush to book trips


Thousands of Britons are likely to use a loophole to fly into ‘green list’ Portugal after May 17 before travelling over land to their holiday homes in Spain, France and Italy, it emerged today.

The opening up of flights next week has seen a rush of people jetting to Faro, Porto or Lisbon and there is nothing to stop them renting a car so they can then drive into Europe, experts say.

The land border between Portugal and Spain is open with the French border with EU countries expected to follow suit from as early as May 19.

Online flights search engine Skyscanner has said that bookings to Portugal are already up 660 per cent per day based on a week ago – and people have taken to social media to admit they are planning to use the loophole.   

Britons with second homes in Europe can travel to them if they are preparing them for sale or need to carry out urgent repairs – but with most short haul flights to France and Spain axed, people are trying to find alternative ways to get there. 

Travel guru Paul Charles, founder of the PC Agency consultancy, told MailOnline: ‘I think you will see a big rush on flights to Portugal because there are hundreds of thousands of Britons with second homes in Spain, France and Spain.

‘Many won’t have visited for more than a year – and will be desperate to get away from the UK. Others may want to see family abroad. They could drive across and then sit tight until the end of June when those countries are expected to go green’.

Mr Charles has also predicted that a version of the NHS’ digital vaccine passport will be up and running by May 17, while UK and Portugal Government advice warning against travel to and from Portugal will be changed ahead of the great holiday restart in a week’s time. 

‘Holidaymakers travelling to and from Portugal will be viewed as a way to test how the travel system will work in Covid times before opening up to the rest of Europe, probably around June 21’, he said.

British second home owners with properties in Spain, France and Italy may choose to fly into Portugal and drive to them when flights open up on May 17, experts have predicted

Covid cases in the UK and Portugal are very low - and are dropping in France, Italy and Spain - but travel is unlikely to be allowed to those countries from Britain until the end of June

Covid cases in the UK and Portugal are very low – and are dropping in France, Italy and Spain – but travel is unlikely to be allowed to those countries from Britain until the end of June

The countri es on the 'green list' from May 17 are: Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; the Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; the Falkland Islands; and Israel

The countri es on the ‘green list’ from May 17 are: Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; the Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; the Falkland Islands; and Israel

Can I go on holiday from May 17? 

The Government has announced the green, amber and red lists for international travel. 

-Who is on the green list?

It consists of Portugal, Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, plus several small remote islands which are British Overseas Territories.

– So I can go on holiday to anywhere on that list?

Not quite. Entry to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and the Faroe Islands is severely restricted.

– Where can I go?

Portugal plans to welcome UK tourists who have had a recent negative test, have recovered from the virus and therefore have antibodies, or had both doses of a vaccine.

Gibraltar will not require UK visitors to be tested or vaccinated, whereas Israel will initially reopen its border on May 23 only to groups of foreign tourists who have had both jabs.

None of these destinations will require arrivals to quarantine.

– What about the amber list?

That covers the most popular holiday destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said ‘you should not be travelling to these places right now’

– What if I go against that guidance?

People returning from amber countries must take two post-arrival tests.

They are also required to self-isolate at home for 10 days, although they can reduce that time if they take an additional negative test on day-five.

– How about the red list?

Those returning from a red list country must stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £1,750.

– Will the lists change?

The lists can be amended at any time, but wholesale changes are not expected to occur until the situation is reviewed at a ‘checkpoint’ on June 28.

– What about vaccine passports?

Grant Shapps confirmed that people in England will be able to demonstrate they have had both doses of a vaccine through the NHS app. 

Mr Charles added that while the borders between Portugal and its European neighbours would be open, travellers would have to be aware of the local rules in their final destination, but France, Spain and Italy are all easing their lockdown in the coming weeks.  

The border between Spain and Portugal is open – while proof of a negative test is required to pass into France from Spain. 

Anyone caught travelling abroad from the UK for a non-essential reason to a non-green list country could be issued with a fixed penalty fine of £5,000. 

But if you have a second home, you are legally authorised to travel there from the UK if you are going to organise selling it, buying it, renting it or letting it out.  

The same rules apply in Europe, where Brits are expected to argue why it is ‘vital’ to travel to those homes in a pandemic. 

People have taken to social media to admit they are planning to use the Portugal loophole. 

One said: ‘Do you realise that I can travel to Portugal, a green country, rent a car then drive to Spain or France (amber countries) then come back home to the UK and completely avoid any testing or isolation requirements?

Another tweeted: ‘Fly to Gibraltar and enter Spain? It can be recorded as you’re crossing an international border. Fly to Portugal and drive to Spain? Who’s to know’.

One user urged to Government to put Spain on ‘green’ to ensure visitors don’t bring back Covid variants. He wrote: ‘So you can fly to Portugal, drive then into Spain and fly back to Uk from Portugal and be treated as a green country. So why not put Spain on then Green list and ensure the necessary testing is in place’.

Hugh Aitken, vice president of flights at online booking service Skyscanner, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘On Friday we saw over 119 per cent increase in bookings day on day just as travellers started to respond to the green light to start international travel.

‘Portugal itself saw a well over a 660 per cent increase in bookings out of UK day on day. Very positive and a good start. The key thing is we’re certainly seeing the demand out there’. 

Zina Bencheikh, managing director in Europe for Intrepid Travel, which operates small group tours around the world, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We know there is a pent-up demand, we know that travellers want to travel, it’s just about when they will be able to do so. 

‘I do think that travellers need to book their holidays in advance because there are so many flexible possibilities, they can change last-minute, they can request for a refund as well dependent on which company they book their trip with, and I think that flexibility will give peace of mind for not worrying about prices increasing in the near future.’

It came as Britons learned they could head to Italy without having to quarantine on arrival as soon as mid-May – but will still be forced to self-isolate for 10 days on their return if they don’t stay for six weeks or so.

Foreign minister Luigi Di Maio said he is planning on lifting quarantine restrictions for travellers from Britain, Israel and European countries in a bid to revive its flagging tourism industry.

Quarantine requirement may be scrapped for those arriving from the United States from June, Di Maio said.

He met with Health Minister Roberto Speranza to discuss the easing of restrictions for countries where vaccination levels are high.

‘We are working to lift the ‘mini-quarantine’ for people coming from European countries, the UK and Israel, if they have a negative swab, proof of vaccination or have recovered from COVID within the last 6 months. Same thing for the U.S.’, he wrote in a post on Facebook.

People entering Italy from other European countries and Israel currently face five days of quarantine and mandatory testing both before arrival and at the end of their isolation period. 

The current rules on EU arrivals expire on May 15. 

There has been a rush on flights and holiday bookings to the Algarve from next week, but some Brits may choose to go further afield as Europe opens up

There has been a rush on flights and holiday bookings to the Algarve from next week, but some Brits may choose to go further afield as Europe opens up

For travellers arriving from the United States the required quarantine period is 10 days.

However, for UK holidaymakers, Italy remains on the ‘amber’ list of countries meaning people are being advised not to travel there.

Travellers who go against the guidance and head to an amber destination must self-isolate at home for 10 days and take two post-arrival tests. 

Other popular holiday destinations are on the amber list including France, Greece and Spain, whereas Portugal, Israel and Gibraltar are on the green list.

Di Maio said Italy would also be working to increase the number of ‘Covid-free’ flights to and from the United States, and to end the quarantine requirement from June.

Italy began a cautious reopening on April 26 after months of coronavirus restrictions, with bars and restaurants permitted to serve customers outdoors.

The country is desperate for the return of tourists as it seeks to recover from a major recession sparked by the pandemic, but health experts still urge caution.

Italy recorded another 10,000 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday and 224 deaths, taking the total to more than 122,000 – the highest rate in the EU, while around 27 per cent of the population have received their first vaccination dose.

‘I, like I think most Italians, want to reopen, I want people to go back out to work, to have fun, to be together,’ Prime Minister Mario Draghi told reporters Saturday after an EU summit in Portugal.

‘But… we have to do it safely, that is, calculating the risk that we run.’

He highlighted the importance of getting the EU’s mooted ‘Green Pass’ up and running, which would allow travel within the bloc to those with immunity, vaccinations or a negative coronavirus testItaly had been the world’s fifth-most visited destination, but visitor numbers collapsed by more than 60 percent from 2019 to 2020.

Google searches for ‘holidays to Portugal’ soared more than 3,000 per cent in the hour after the Government named it as one of the countries that will be on its ‘green’ safe travel list from May 17.  

On Friday, the Department for Transport revealed at a Downing Street briefing that travellers will be able to visit 12 destinations – including Portugal – from May 17 without having to self-isolate on return to England.

Speaking soon after the briefing, the boss of a travel firm analysing Google data said that searches for ‘holidays to Portugal’ had ‘skyrocketed’ by 3,233 per cent compared to ten minutes before Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ announcement. 

Searches for Israel and Gibraltar – which are also on the green list – were up by 1,329 per cent and 488 per cent, the Sun reported.   

However, travel bosses demanded that more countries be put on the quarantine-free list as they criticised the ‘overly cautious’ ministers for only approving 12 destinations so far.     

Of the nations and territories on the list, only the above three, as well as Iceland, are allowing Britons in without the need to quarantine.    

People returning to England from a green destination from May 17 will not be required to self-isolate and are only required to take one post-arrival coronavirus test.

The green list also features several remote British Overseas Territories and destinations where visits are heavily restricted, such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and the Faroe Islands. 

Google searches for ‘holidays to Portugal’ soared more than 3,000 per cent in the hour after the Government named it as one of the countries that will be on its ‘green’ safe travel list from May 17.  

On Friday, the Department for Transport revealed at a Downing Street briefing that travellers will be able to visit 12 destinations – including Portugal – from May 17 without having to self-isolate on return to England.

Speaking soon after the briefing, the boss of a travel firm analysing Google data said that searches for ‘holidays to Portugal’ had ‘skyrocketed’ by 3,233 per cent compared to ten minutes before Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ announcement. 

Searches for Israel and Gibraltar – which are also on the green list – were up by 1,329 per cent and 488 per cent, the Sun reported.   

However, travel bosses demanded that more countries be put on the quarantine-free list as they criticised the ‘overly cautious’ ministers for only approving 12 destinations so far.     

Of the nations and territories on the list, only the above three, as well as Iceland, are allowing Britons in without the need to quarantine.    

People returning to England from a green destination from May 17 will not be required to self-isolate and are only required to take one post-arrival coronavirus test.

The green list also features several remote British Overseas Territories and destinations where visits are heavily restricted, such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and the Faroe Islands.

Summer holiday price DROP: Cost of flying to ‘green list’ Portugal plummets by 76% from £282 to £67 despite soaring demand after Ryanair puts on 57 extra flights a week

The cost of flying to Portugal has plunged over the weekend with Ryanair putting on dozens of flights to Faro, Lisbon and Porto shortly after the country was cleared three days ago for quarantine-free trips from May 17.

Britons travelling from London to Lisbon next Monday before coming home a week later can get a return with Ryanair from Stansted for just £67 – with various different flights available with the airline for similar prices.

This is 76 per cent down on the cheapest return moments before the ‘green list’ announcement at 5pm last Friday, which was £282 with TAP Portugal from Heathrow – with that same flight at roughly the same price today.

Those hoping to travel to Faro for a week from next Monday can do so from Stansted for £63 with Ryanair, while the Irish budget airline is also offering returns to Porto for £66 in a bid to lure back passengers.

Ryanair is laying on 175,000 more seats to Portugal from next Monday, leaving from London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. There will be 38 more flights a week from Stansted and 19 more from Manchester.

Tour guides wait for customers at Comercio square in Lisbon last July, with Portugal now set for an influx of UK holidaymakers

Tour guides wait for customers at Comercio square in Lisbon last July, with Portugal now set for an influx of UK holidaymakers

Ryanair is laying on 175,000 more seats to Portugal from May 17, leaving from London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds

Ryanair is laying on 175,000 more seats to Portugal from May 17, leaving from London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds

TAP Portugal planes are seen at Lisbon Airport shortly after the first coronavirus lockdown began in April last year

TAP Portugal planes are seen at Lisbon Airport shortly after the first coronavirus lockdown began in April last year

How flight prices have changed in three days

The cheapest return flight from London to the following destinations, checked on Skyscanner, is:

Lisbon (Portugal) – DOWN 76%

  • Checked at 4pm last Friday – TAP return from Heathrow – £282 (May 17 at 1845; May 24 at 1105)
  • Checked at 9am today – Ryanair return from Stansted – £67 (May 17 at 1230; May 24 at 1705) 

Tel Aviv (Israel) – UP 24%

  • Checked at 4pm last Friday – British Airways return from Heathrow – £252 (May 17 at 0800; May 24 at 1640)
  • Checked at 9am today – British Airways return from Heathrow – £313 (same times)

Gibraltar – UP 82%

  • Checked at 4pm last Friday – Wizz Air return from Luton – £76 (May 17 at 1545; May 24 at 2030)
  • Checked at 9am today – Wizz Air return from Luton – £138 (same times)

However tourists hoping to visit other countries on the ‘green list’ such as Israel and Gibraltar will find the lowest prices have gone up over the past few days, with Ryanair not entering the market on these routes.

Wizz Air are offering a return from Luton to Gibraltar, leaving next Monday and coming back a week later, for £138 today, which has gone up 82 per cent from £76 which was the price when checked last Friday at 4pm.

And a return flight from Heathrow to Tel Aviv with British Airways leaving next Monday and returning a week later is now £313, rising 24 per cent from £252 when checked just before the Government’s announcement last Friday.

It comes after flight comparison website Skyscanner reported a 660 per cent increase in bookings for flights from Britain to Portugal last Friday compared to the previous day.

Hugh Aitken, vice president of flights at Skyscanner, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning: ‘On Friday we saw over 119 per cent increase in bookings day on day just as travellers started to respond to the green light to start international travel.

‘Portugal itself saw a well over a 660 per cent increase in bookings out of UK day on day. Very positive and a good start. The key thing is we’re certainly seeing the demand out there.

‘In general we’re seeing prices less than they were pre-pandemic. In a report we published a couple of weeks ago we said the average of prices globally are 13 per cent lower than they were before the pandemic.’ 

Also this morning, Zina Bencheikh, managing director in Europe for Intrepid Travel, which operates small group tours around the world, told BBC Radio 4: ‘We’ve seen since the start of the pandemic that people are looking forward to their next holiday – they’re being very realistic about when they can travel. 

‘However, since last week’s announcement, we’ve had interest in Iceland, Portugal and Israel over the weekend that has been quite enormous. We know there is a pent-up demand, we know that travellers want to travel, it’s just about when they will be able to do so.

‘From our perspective, prices have not gone up at all – it’s actually the opposite that has happened, and we’ve seen around the travel industry has been quite reasonable in terms of not increasing the prices.’

She added: ‘I do think that travellers need to book their holidays in advance because there are so many flexible possibilities. 

 

Prepare for TAKE OFF! Finally, the Government has told us where we can go after May 17. Here’s everything you  need to know…

Yesterday’s announcement by the UK Government of the countries on its long-awaited ‘green list’ has finally made a quarantine-free summer holiday possible.

From Israel to Iceland, Portugal to Gibraltar — the holiday ‘traffic lights’ have turned green, opening up a host of tantalising destinations that seemed out of the question during the depths of the winter lockdown. Under UK Government rules, holidaymakers to these ‘green list’ countries will still have to arrange pre-departure lateral test and on their return Covid PCR tests.

Crucially, however, no quarantine will be required on your return to the UK as the Government is satisfied that Covid infection rates are so low in these nations that there is no increased risk of spreading the disease when you come back. Here is our guide to each country’s rules and how, at last, to plan an overseas trip that will actually happen (fingers crossed).

PORTUGAL POSITIVE

Go, go, go! Wizz Air has bargain flights from Luton to Madeira, pictured, from £81 return later this month

Go, go, go! Wizz Air has bargain flights from Luton to Madeira, pictured, from £81 return later this month

GET SET FOR TESTING TIMES 

Foreign countries may want proof of negative PCR Covid tests on arrival, but how do you arrange one and how much do they cost?

Then there is the British rule — part of the ‘green list’ arrangements — to be tested (with a ‘lateral’ or ‘antigen’ test) before departing home, plus a separate PCR test before day two on your return.

It’s confusing, but how does testing work in practice?

  • Most countries will want proof, on arrival, of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure — even if you have proof of being fully vaccinated. Check entry requirements at gov.uk.
  • The cost of a PCR test is about £100. At some private clinics it’s nearer £200.
  • Find government-accredited testing firms on the ‘List of providers: general testing’ page of gov.uk.
  • Boots (£99, boots.com) and Superdrug (£119, superdrug.com) can arrange such tests by appointment.
  • Tui this week launched holiday packages with all ‘green list’ tests from £60 pp. For countries that no longer need a negative PCR test before you go, it’s from £20 pp (tui.co.uk).
  • The Government is considering providing free lateral flow tests for departure abroad and prior to arrival home. Look out for details.
  • It is hoped an internationally-accepted ‘digital health passport’ will be created so fully vaccinated travellers will need no tests at all.
  • See the official ‘traffic light’ rules on ‘Global Travel Taskforce sets out framework to safely reopen international travel’ page at gov.uk.
  • Visit ‘Traffic light system: red, amber and green list countries’ at which.co.uk. 

WHEN CAN WE GO? Currently, you can only visit for ‘essential purposes’ or if you are a citizen. However, Rita Marques, Portugal’s tourism minister, said this week that it is ‘pushing hard to open up to third countries like the UK. The British market is really important. We are ready to welcome you when you are ready to come.’ So tourism should, subject to a new government decree, be possible from May 17.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Tourists will probably need to prove they have had both jabs or are immunised from having previously had the virus. Alternatively, a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure is likely to be accepted. These details, including the documentation required, are still being fine-tuned.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Last weekend, Portugal opened restaurants, cafes and pastry shops to groups of six inside and ten on terraces until 10.30pm as part of ‘phase four’ of its lifting of lockdown restrictions. Museums, attractions, swimming pools and concert halls have already reopened. On May 16, the country’s official ‘Situation of Calamity’ (full lockdown) is due to end with further easings of movement.

The Portuguese North Atlantic islands of Madeira and the Azores are also on the ‘green list’.

On Madeira there is currently a curfew between 11pm and 5am, while restaurants and bars must close at 10pm and are limited to 50 per cent capacity. It is against rules to have a drink at the counter of a bar or while standing, and groups are limited to five people. Face masks must be worn in public, with an exception for beaches (see Madeira Safe To Discover at visitmadeira.pt).

In the Azores, masks must be worn in public. Restaurants, cafes and bars are open until midnight, with a limit of ten people per table. However, ‘establishments with dance spaces’ are closed (see visitazores.com).

GETTING THERE: LUXURY: A week from £775 pp based on four sharing at Villa Esteval Dos Mouros in Alte, with East Midlands Airport flights (tui.co.uk).

BUDGET: Seven nights from £392pp at Vilamoura Golf Apartments in the Algarve, with flights from (jet2holidays.com).

CHEAPEST FLIGHTS: Luton to Madeira from £81 return later this month (wizzair.com).

FURTHER INFORMATION: visitportugal.com

ISRAEL SAYS ‘WELCOME’

WHEN CAN WE GO? Israel says it will permit vaccinated or ‘Covid-recovered’ tourists from 14 countries, including the UK, from May 23. To start with, only tourist groups booked with vaccinated guides/drivers will be allowed, but from July this should be extended to individuals. Tourism minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen says Israel wants to boost tourism by ‘taking advantage of the fact that Israel is a safe country’.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: On top of proof of being fully vaccinated (both jabs) or being ‘Covid-recovered’ (electronic or paper proof such as a Covid infection certificate showing that you have got over it or your paper vaccine card possibly accepted, although this has not been finalised), all visitors must have proof of a negative PCR test 72 hours before boarding their plane. On arrival, they must take another PCR test, as well as a serological test, which proves existence of antibodies — both, it is understood, arranged by airport authorities.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Restaurants, shopping malls and museums are open with social distancing, with one person allowed every seven square metres. Face masks are required in indoor public places.

Israel says it will permit vaccinated or ‘Covid-recovered’ tourists from 14 countries, including the UK, from May 23

Israel says it will permit vaccinated or ‘Covid-recovered’ tourists from 14 countries, including the UK, from May 23

GETTING THERE: LUXURY: Eight-night guided tours in July from £4,999 pp with flights (abercrombiekent.co.uk).

BUDGET: 14 nights at Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv from £2,005 pp, with flights from Luton in August (easyjet.com).

CHEAPEST FLIGHTS: Luton to Tel Aviv from £111 return in July (wizzair.com).

FURTHER INFORMATION: info.goisrael.com

ICELAND ALL OK 

We should be able to travel to Iceland from May 17. Currently, face masks must be worn in public places where it is not possible to maintain a two-metre gap

We should be able to travel to Iceland from May 17. Currently, face masks must be worn in public places where it is not possible to maintain a two-metre gap 

The green list is based on factors that include a country’s vaccination programme

The green list is based on factors that include a country’s vaccination programme

WHEN CAN WE GO? The Icelandic government wants tourism back up and running as soon as possible, so we should be able to go from May 17.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Those who have been fully vaccinated or have had a prior Covid infection will be able to visit without requiring a negative PCR before travel. The paper vaccine card or a Covid infection certificate may well be accepted as proof. However, this is not clear yet.

Even if you have been vaccinated, you will be tested on arrival with a result coming in about six hours while you wait in your first accommodation.

From June 1, it is possible that Britain will be put on Iceland’s ‘blue list’ of countries with no border restrictions at all (Iceland has four colours on its unique Covid traffic light system).

WHAT TO EXPECT: Currently, face masks must be worn in public places where it is not possible to maintain a two-metre gap. Bars and restaurants are open until 9pm with a maximum of 30 people.

GETTING THERE: LUXURY: A Highlands And Lowlands 14-night fly-drive from £2,632, with flights from about £100 return extra (discover-the-world.com).

BUDGET: Seven nights at Room With A View hotel, Reykjavik, from £1,212pp with flights from Stansted (easyjet.com).

CHEAPEST FLIGHTS: Luton to Reykjavik from £53 return in July (easyjet.com).

FURTHER INFORMATION: visiticeland.com

GEAR UP FOR GIBRALTAR

WHEN CAN WE GO? Chief minister Fabian Picardo wants British tourists back immediately and is thankful that Gibraltar has received vaccine shipments from Britain: ‘It’s thanks to the [UK] Government that Gibraltar can proudly say all of our adult population is now vaccinated.’ Officials announced that there were ‘no Covid cases’ at all on the tiny British Overseas Territory earlier this week.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: There will be no requirement to take a PCR test before travel. Mr Picardo said: ‘When you’re coming to Gibraltar you’re coming to a part of Britain, and therefore you’re going to be very welcome here without the need for a PCR test.’

WHAT TO EXPECT: Masks must be worn in enclosed spaces including public transport and shops, where numbers are being limited. The Upper Rock is partially open to traffic and ramblers. All businesses including restaurants reopened last month.

Officials announced that there were ‘no Covid cases’ at all on the tiny British Overseas Territory earlier this week. Pictured is the Rock of Gibraltar

 Officials announced that there were ‘no Covid cases’ at all on the tiny British Overseas Territory earlier this week. Pictured is the Rock of Gibraltar 

GETTING THERE: LUXURY: Ten nights at the Eliott Hotel from £949 pp B&B in July, with Heathrow flights; book by May 12 (ba.com/Gibraltar).

BUDGET: Seven nights at the Holiday Inn Express from £551 pp B&B from Gatwick (thomascook.com).

CHEAPEST FLIGHTS: Luton to Gibraltar from £61 return in July (wizzair.com).

FURTHER INFORMATION: visitgibraltar.gi

Escape Q&A: The new lowdown on summer travel

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 to 'green list' countries will still have to arrange pre-departure lateral test and on their return Covid PCR tests

Holidaymakers to ‘green list’ countries 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.

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.

Australia and New Zealand have been added to the Government's green list despite their borders being closed

Australia and New Zealand have been added to the Government’s green list despite their borders being closed

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.

Summer holiday hotspots like Spain, France and Italy could be added to the Government's green list in the coming months

Summer holiday hotspots like Spain, France and Italy could be added to the Government’s 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.



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