Several countries have been added to the government’s “green list” for international travel, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty for British holidaymakers.
Malta, Madeira, the Balearic Islands and several Caribbean islands, including Barbados, are among the destinations added. However, Malta is the only new country that’s not also on the “green watch list” – the list the government creates to indicate the destinations at risk of becoming amber destinations.
Earlier this month, there was chaos when Portugal switched from green to amber and Brits flocked home.
Ahead of the travel announcement on June 24, there was also widespread speculation that holidaymakers who’d been double jabbed would not need to self-isolate when returning from amber listed countries to the UK. However, the government confirmed these plans are on hold until “later in the summer”.
Some will no doubt be disappointed by the news, particularly those working in the travel industry. But one glimmer of hope is there are now more destinations on the green list than there’s been since the traffic light system was introduced.
It’s worth reading the small print before you book a last-minute deal, though. The traffic light system is not reciprocal and has no bearing whatsoever on whether a country will let you in, says Emma Coulthurst from Travel Supermarket.
“Many countries on the Department for Transport’s green list are still closed to non-residents or require travellers to self-isolate on arrival, so there’s absolutely no point considering them for holidays e.g. Australia or New Zealand,” she tells HuffPost UK.
“Therefore, it’s just as important, if not more important, that you check that a country: a) will let you holiday there, and b) has any entry requirements. Nearly all countries require you to fill out a form before you travel.”
With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about the countries you may actually be able to travel to this summer.
Malta is currently one of your safest holiday bets, as it’s not on the UK’s green watch list. Everyone above the age of five must show evidence of a negative PCR test before entering Malta, but there’s no quarantine period on arrival for Brits if you can show a negative test.
Malta has its own traffic light system, and the UK is listed as “amber”. You can travel into Malta from an amber country, as long as you’ve been there for 14 days/haven’t travelled through a red country. It’s worth keeping an eye on Malta’s list, to ensure the UK doesn’t turn red (meaning entry for holidays wouldn’t be allowed).
“If you want a city break, consider Valletta or Sliema across the water, which offers sea and city all in one,” says Coulthurst.
Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza
For sunshine and sangria, head to the Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza. Arrivals from the UK do not have to quarantine and are no longer subject to testing requirements, unless they have travelled to a country on Spain’s list of ‘risk’ countries in the 14 days prior to travel to Spain.
It’s worth noting that your holiday may be more low-key than usual when you arrive, as Ibiza’s famous clubs remain closed.
A warning: these destinations are on the green watch list and you will need to quarantine on return if they are moved to amber.
Iceland was already on the green list and Coulthurst says its “accessible wilderness” might make it appeal to those travelling with children.
Iceland’s entry requirements say adults can enter without quarantine if they’ve been double jabbed. Kids are exempt if they were born in 2005 or later. You will have to take a Covid test at the border, though, and wait for results in your room (delivered within 24 hours). If a test comes back positive, you’ll then need to self-isolate. Currently, there’s no quarantine once you’re home in the UK.
All travellers, whether vaccinated or not, need to be able to show a negative PCR test taken within three days prior to arrival. If your PCR test is considered “invalid”, for example, if it’s not from a recognised supplier, the next steps change depending on whether you’ve been vaccinated or not.
Those with an invalid test who have been double jabbed can take a further PCR test at the airport. They will have to wait in their room until the result is in, which takes two days.
Those with an invalid test who have not been fully vaccinated have to quarantine for five days and then take an approved PCR test. It means your total quarantine on arrival could be seven to eight days. Again, there’s currently no quarantine on your return to the UK.
Other Caribbean islands added to the green list, such as Antigua, require travellers to undergo health screening. The Ministry of Health and Wellness of Antigua and Barbuda advise that all arrivals will be monitored for coronavirus for up to 14 days and that ultimately it is the decision of the Quarantine Authority on who must self-isolate or quarantine on arrival. Because of this, Barbados might be a safer bet.