Government Reveals Plans For Foreign Travel

The Global Travel Taskforce has released its initial report on how international travel can resume from May 17, detailing plans for a “traffic light” system that will be rolled out in the coming weeks. This news has been long-awaited by Brits eager to make plans for a summer holiday.

It has been confirmed that anyone arriving in the UK from a destination classified as “red” will need to isolate in a government-regulated hotel for 10 days upon their return, as well as undertake three Covid-19 tests – one before their departure, one on day 2 of their arrival to the UK, and the last on day 8 of their quarantine period.

Anyone arriving from an “amber” destination will need to quarantine at home for 10 days upon their arrival, as well as take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 of their isolate period. However, they will have the option to pay for a private PCR test on day 5 (also known as undertaking ‘test and release’) and end self-isolation early if their test comes back negative.

Lastly, anyone arriving in the UK from a country on the “green” list will be required to take a pre-departure test as well as a PCR test on or before day 2 of their arrival to the UK. However, they will not need to quarantine or take any additional tests, unless they receive a positive test result.

To be put on the “green” list, countries must have low or decreasing Covid-19 infection rates, a high number of residents already inoculated, be deemed to have a low prevalence of Covid-19 variants, and have access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

The decision regarding which countries will be classed as “green”, “amber”, or “red” will be made in early May, ahead of the hoped for restart on 17 May. The categories will be driven by the data and evidence nearer the time. However, upon looking at the current infection and vaccination rates, it’s likely that destinations such as Israel, Iceland, Portugal, and possibly the USA could be first to open to Brits.

The traffic light system allows for destinations to move categories, depending on the risk of Covid-19, which means that countries classed as “amber” in the coming weeks, may move into “green” in time for the summer holidays. Therefore, it is possible that Spain, Italy, and other popular holiday destinations in Europe could start as “amber” due to the rising Covid-19 numbers, but turn “green” as their infection rates fall again.

Of course, this also means that destinations could be removed from the “green” list if infection rates rise. For example, infection rates were previously falling in Croatia but have recently spiked. In this scenario, it’s possible that Croatia would be removed from “green” and put into the “red” category, meaning anyone returning from there would have to isolate in a quarantine hotel and undertake three Covid-19 tests.

The government has acknowledged that changing a countries status at the last minute makes it hard for Brits to plan a break, and has therefore also introduced a “green watchlist” which will identify countries most at risk of moving from “green” to “amber”, in order to make it easier for Brits planning a foreign holiday.

While there is currently no cancellation cover in travel insurance policies for changes in government advice related to Covid-19, there is protection available should you fail your pre-departure test at your holiday destination, and as a result, are required to isolate in the country you are in. This type of protection will typically cover the cost of additional accommodation and alternative transportation costs to get you home.

However, it’s worth being aware that this cover is not standard across the travel insurance industry. Therefore, you will need to shop around and compare cover. We recommend checking the “denied boarding” section of a policy, and looking out for “pre-departure testing” in the wording.

For more information on the different types of financial protection available to holidaymakers, click here.