July update for UK travellers

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A holiday maker’s guide to red, amber and green travel lists this summer

Prices for domestic holidays have skyrocketed in recent months, and they are showing no sign of slowing down. In fact, well known all-inclusive stay-at-home option Centre-Parcs has been criticised for costing more than a family break in the Caribbean, and even family caravan holidays in under-appreciated areas like Lowestoft are running up multiple thousands in total costs for just a week away with the kids.

Why then, exactly is this bubble fit to burst when the success of the vaccination programme in the UK has been so clear? The UK is within the top ten countries globally to have the highest number of people with at least one vaccination (others on the list include Israel, Iceland, Chile and Mongolia) and as a result it has decisively broken the link between cases and hospitalisations. Added to that, there is now a decent variety of destinations available through the green and amber travel list. So why are UK holidays so disproportionately expensive?

The reason is mainly down to quarantine time, and the rigmarole people have to face when they return. Thankfully travel test packages from suppliers like Medicspot, mean that not everyone needs to build in a full two-week quarantine upon return, but it is still driving demand for domestic travel, or ‘staycations’, hard enough for prices to soar out of reach for some.

It’s enough to encourage many who would have preferred to holiday in the UK back out into Europe and other amber to green holiday destinations this summer – especially those whose jobs cannot easily be done from home. But is it as bad as people say? How much red tape is involved, and crucially, how long do you have to quarantine if you have no symptoms? Let’s look at what you’d need to do for each colour on the traffic light… Remember that unless indicated, these rules apply only to England; Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have different processes that you legally need to follow.


Red List countries

If you have specifically visited a red list country, or even stopped in one as you travelled back to the England, you will only be allowed to enter if you are a British or Irish citizen or have verifiable residence rights within the country – plus a negative test before you travel. Before you travel to England, you will need to book a quarantine in a government-registered hotel, including two further tests on days two and eight. It’s worth noting that quarantining in a hotel for a full ten days and 11 nights comes to £1,750 for just one adult! This is highly unlikely to affect you however, as you should not be travelling to red list countries for a holiday.


Amber List countries

This is where paying for certain types of testing can make a real difference and reduce the impact of your travel. Amber list countries (like France, Greece and Spain at the time of writing) still require you to quarantine when you return, but you can do so at home. Like red list countries you need to test on days two and eight, but you can opt to take a third “test to release” on day five. If you come back negative, then you are legally allowed to end your quarantine halfway through, shortening the amount of time you are out of the office, or stuck at home with the kids.


Green List countries

Green list countries require only that you take a test and get a negative result before you travel, and that you order a test to take on day two of your return (if your arrival day is day zero). Of course, it is possible that you test positive, in which case you must follow government guidelines. It’s also possible that a country may rapidly move from one list to another as the Covid situation there develops.

Whether you’re choosing to go abroad for you holidays or staying in the UK and facing the increased costs, it’s important to continue talking the Government’s advice on hygiene matters and stay as safe as possible. After a year of working hard to control this virus, it’s important to be able to enjoy you break knowing that you and you loved ones remain safe and well.