After months of lockdown and restrictions, international travel from England, Wales and Scotland was given the go-ahead from Monday 17th May 2021. However, not every country is safe to visit and the government’s new traffic light system highlights which destinations are open to UK travellers and which should be avoided.
As restrictions ease though, more countries are being added to the list. So in this blog, we highlight which have recently been revealed as ‘green’ as well as what it means to be a green, amber and red country.
What is the traffic light system?
Originally introduced in May, the new traffic light system ranks countries on their Covid levels and organises them into green, amber or red. This then determines how safe it is to travel there as well as what safety measures and self-isolation precautions are required. Depending on the status of the country, you may also be allowed to end your quarantine early with a Test to Release kit from companies like Medicspot.
If you’re travelling to and from green countries, you aren’t required to quarantine once you’ve returned to the UK. However, you will still be required to take one test before you leave and one PCR test on arrival back in the UK.
Travel to amber countries requires a negative Covid test before, as well as tests on day two and eight upon return. You’ll also have to quarantine for 10 days. Travel to red countries is not allowed — unless you have residency rights.
Which countries are green?
Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, recently revealed that 16 countries would be moved from the amber list to green. Currently, the full list of green countries is:
- The Balearic Islands
- Antigua & Barbuda
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Turks & Caicos
- British Antarctic Territory
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- Pitcairn Islands
- Israel and Jerusalem
- New Zealand
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Ascension Island
New additions — except Malta, Israel and Jerusalem — were also added to the green watchlist, meaning they’re at risk of being moved back to amber. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also be adhering to the same green list.
Restrictions to the green list
Not every country on the green list is permitting UK travellers though. Australia, New Zealand, the Falkland Islands and Singapore have currently shut their borders to UK tourists. Some countries also require visitors to take a test on arrival and quarantine until the results are known — like in Iceland, which is welcoming both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers.
Could green countries change?
Yes, reviews are conducted every three weeks and countries can move to another colour on the traffic light system; for example, mainland Portugal, which was originally green, is now amber. The new additions have also been added to a watchlist from Wednesday 30th June 2021 meaning they could change ranking in the near future.
If Covid cases begin to rise, these current green countries are likely to move to amber. If you are planning a trip abroad, you might want to book a flexible stay as well as specific insurance that will protect both you and your holiday. Not only will this ensure that you’ve got an adequate level of cover but it will also give you greater peace of mind.