Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel are among the destinations that have been added to the government’s ‘green list’ of countries – the places it says are safe to visit when holidays and non-essential travel can start again from 17 May.
Destinations around the world have been assigned a green, amber or red status based on a range of Covid-19 health metrics, including vaccination numbers, infection rates and variants.
The other destinations are Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Iceland, Falkland Islands, Faro Islands, South Georgia and Sandwich Islands, St Helena, Tristan de Cuna and Ascension Island.
However, before rushing into booking a holiday in a green-list destination, you still need to consider the country’s entry requirements. None of those countries or territories currently allow leisure travel from the UK, although Portugal has said that it hopes to from mid-May.
Is it safe to book a holiday to a green list country?
Yes, if it will let you in.
If a country is on the green list you don’t have to quarantine when you return home. You will, however, still need to take a pre-departure test before leaving the country to return to the UK, as well as on or before day two, after you land.
Even when countries open to UK travellers they may still require you to provide proof of a negative PCR test on arrival (or proof of two vaccine doses). Tests are an additional cost to the holiday and each country will have different requirements. Always check entry requirements and add up the additional costs of testing to see whether it’s affordable before booking. See where to get cheap Covid-19 tests for travel.
You should also consider the advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). If the FCDO advises against travel to a country, you will find it difficult to get travel insurance. However, if you book through a good package holiday company, you will be entitled to a date or destination change, or a refund, should the FCDO advice change after you’ve booked.
Remember that flights may still operate even if the FCDO advises against leisure travel to a destination, so it’s better to book a package holiday. Some airlines are offering flexible booking which allows you to move the date of your flight, but the new dates may cost more money.
You also need to choose your package holiday company carefully. Loveholidays and On The Beach said last year that they wouldn’t offer refunds for packages if flights were still operating to a destination. Read our reviews of the best and worst holiday companies who have committed to refunds.
What happens if I book a holiday to a green list country and it’s changed to amber?
There is always a chance that the government could change a green list country to amber or red, causing disruption to your trip. The government plans to review countries every three weeks this year, instead of weekly like last year. This will minimise disruption, but could still impact holidays.
The government has said it will produce a green ‘watchlist’ to identify countries that are at risk of moving from the green to amber. So you should have some warning that your chosen destination is under review, before it gets downgraded.
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Can I take a holiday to countries on the amber list?
You can, but the government doesn’t encourage it. You will need to quarantine at home for a period of 10 days on your return to the UK. You will also need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on day two and day eight. Alternately, you can pay for an additional ‘Test to Release’ on day five to end quarantine early. The majority of countries around the world are now on the amber list.
Can I take a holiday to countries on the red list?
The government strongly advises against travel to red countries, except in ‘extreme circumstances’, although it’s not actually illegal. You will need to pay for a 10-day stay at a government-managed quarantine hotel – that currently costs £1,750 for a single person. You will also have to pay for pre-departure testing and PCR testing on days two and eight.
If you’re abroad when the country is added to the red list, you may need to pay for a flight to get home before the change takes place (with airfares likely to be very high). Alternatively you could return as planned and pay for hotel quarantine. A good package holiday provider should offer to bring you home early – but check the terms and conditions before you book.
Should a country’s status change to red before you go, you will likely be allowed to change the date/location or get a refund. But always check your tour operator’s T&Cs before you book.
Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal have all been added to the lengthy red list in the latest government announcement.
Already have a holiday booked? Find out if it will go ahead or whether you should cancel your trip