On Monday, May 17, the government lifted the “stay at home” messaging and introduced a new traffic light system to help resume international travel and allow Brits to enjoy a holiday abroad once more. The traffic light system categories countries based on their level of risk to British travellers and come with a different set of restrictions, depending on what colour it is awarded.
However, government departments have not aligned their travel advice, causing confusion around whether Brits are in fact allowed to travel to a country included on the “amber” list.
It comes as the Department for Transportation (DfT) told Brits earlier this week that “You should not travel to red or amber list counties or territories for leisure purposes”. Despite the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) changing their travel advice and no longer advising against travel to certain destinations on the “amber” list.
So, can you travel to a country on the “amber” list?
Some tour operators have said that they will continue to operate holidays to countries classified as “amber”, provided FCDO does not advise against “all but essential” travel to them.
If the FCDO and traffic light system advice is not consistent for the destination you plan to travel to, you should follow the FCDO’s travel advice as the majority of travel insurance policies will not cover you if you travel against their advice and later submit a claim.
Additionally, as the FCDO advises against travel to all destinations on the “red” list, travellers will not be covered by their insurer to visit these destinations, unless agreed with the insurer in writing.
We have broken down exactly what the different traffic light categories mean from both a restrictions point of view and, in most cases, travel insurance stance. At present:
Anyone travelling to a “red” destination:
- will need to isolate in a government-regulated hotel for 10 days upon their return to the UK
- will need to 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
- will not be covered to travel by their travel insurance provider, unless agreed directly with them beforehand
Anyone travelling to a “amber” destination:
- will need to quarantine at home for 10 days upon their return to the UK
- will need to take a pre-departure test before their return to the UK 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
- will need to check the FCDO’s advice before travelling, as, should they advise against travel to that particular destination, it is unlikely cover will be provided by travel insurers
Anyone travelling to a “green” destination:
- 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
- will not need to quarantine or take any additional tests unless they receive a positive test result
- will, in most cases, be covered to travel by their insurer provided they have not travelled against the FCDO’s advice
Travellers should also be aware that cover for cancellation of a holiday due to a change in government advice related to Covid-19, e.g. if the FCDO was to suddenly advise against travel to a “green” list destination, is not covered in the majority of travel insurance policies as financial protection for this scenario is available elsewhere.
Should this happen, tourists are advised to get in touch with their tour operator, travel agent, or airline in the first instance to try and move their trip to a later date or request their money back. If they are unable to move their trip or get their money back, they should then get in touch with their bank or credit card provider to recover these costs.
However, the government has advised that they will try and give at least two weeks’ notice if advice to a destination is likely to change.
For more information on all things Covid-19 and travel-related, click here.