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Weekly travel corridor updates and announcements of new restrictions across the UK are making it increasingly difficult to plan travel.
And, with half term less than two weeks away, many families will be wondering whether they’ll be able to go on their planned holiday – or even book one last-minute.
To make things a little easier, we’ve set out the details of destinations you can currently travel to, according to where you live.
Where can I currently travel to abroad?
If you live in England…
In England, there are two lists that determine where you can currently travel to. The list from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is made up of countries that are currently exempt from its advice against ‘all but essential’ international travel.
There’s also a ‘travel corridors’ list published by the Department for Transport which is made up of the countries, territories and regions that the government considers as low-risk enough to return from without entering into a two-week self-isolation period.
Popular destinations in Europe that are currently allowing entry to Brits, and feature on both government lists, include Cyprus, Germany, Greece (with the exceptions of Crete and Mykonos) and Italy.
However, before booking a trip, it’s important to research the entry requirements of the country you’re considering – and to check these again in advance of your trip as they may change.
For travel to Cyprus, as an example, you’ll need to provide a negative COVID-19 test on arrival, obtained within 72 hours before travel. Find out more here.
The same applies for Italy. You may be able to get a free test in certain airports on arrival in Italy, but, if you test positive, you will be quarantined until you have two consecutive negative test results – this can take up to several weeks. Find out more here.
Further Greek islands (Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Santorini and Zakynthos) were added to the both the FCDO exemption and travel corridors lists last week, opening up more of Greece to holidaymakers over the half term break.
To enter Greece, though, all passengers must complete a Passenger Locator Form at least 24 hours before arrival and will be sent a QR code that must be presented on arrival.
You may be asked to take a test too. If this test is positive, the Greek authorities are likely to ask you to self-isolate for 14 days and, depending on where you are staying, you may be required to move to government-provided accommodation. Find out more here.
For travel to Germany, there are currently requirements for passengers arriving from “a designated risk area” to take a test on arrival and enter quarantine for 14 days.
Areas classed as high risk include Northern Ireland, Scotland, North East England, North West England, Yorkshire and the Humber, and Wales. If you’ve been in one of these areas in the two weeks before your arrival in Germany, you’ll be required to quarantine in your accommodation for 14 days or until you can show evidence of a negative COVID-19 test.
You may be able to avoid quarantine if you can provide evidence of negative test results less than 48 hours prior to arrival. Find out more here.
Additionally in England, with the announcement of a new three-tier COVID-19 system, people living in a High Risk area – such as the Liverpool City Region – are being advised against travelling to or from the area.
If you live in Scotland…
The travel corridor list for Scotland is slightly different. Greece, for example, doesn’t feature having been removed on 3 September. You can see the current list here.
There are no rules banning Scottish residents from travelling overseas. However, in September, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said: “Given that this is a global pandemic, please do not book travel overseas for the October break if it is not essential. Please think of the October break as an opportunity to further limit social interaction.”
If you live in Wales…
Again, the travel corridor list for Wales is slightly different. Similar to the announcement in England, Greek islands that were previously removed from the travel corridor list were added back on this week (Paros and Antiparos, Lesvos, Santorini, Milos including the island of Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos). You can find the current list here.
There are also travel restrictions in place in certain areas of Wales that are currently under local lockdown. In these places – including Cardiff, Conwy, Flintshire and Swansea – you are not allowed to leave the area for a holiday.
The government guidance for Cardiff, as an example, says: “We know this will be disappointing but travelling out of the Cardiff Council area for a holiday is not one of the permitted reasons under the regulations.
“The regulations are in place to protect you and your loved ones from coronavirus and to prevent the onward spread of the virus to other areas of Wales, the UK and other countries.”
You can see all of the areas currently in local lockdown with guidance here.
If you live in Northern Ireland…
You can find the travel corridor list for Northern Ireland here.
There are also localised travel restrictions for Derry City and Strabane in Northern Ireland, which were announced on 1 October. Currently, the regulations around travel from these areas says: “People living in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area should avoid all unnecessary travel.”
Find more detail on the restrictions here.
How long will these measures stay in place?
The government has warned that the travel corridor list is subject to change and that countries can be removed at any time if the public health risk becomes too high. However, countries are occasionally added to it too. And this has led to increasing uncertainty around booking a holiday overseas.
However, on 7 October, the government announced that it was launching a new Global Travel Taskforce which it claims will “help us move towards safer, smoother international travel.”
The taskforce will work with the travel industry on measures to safely reduce the self-isolation period through testing, according to the government. It will look at the proposals of a single test being taken after a period of isolation, privately and at the cost of the traveller, as well as other options such as pilots with partner countries to decide whether self-isolation could be undertaken pre-departure.
What about travel within the UK?
Whether you’ve got something booked for half term or are looking ahead to visiting relatives for Christmas, there are some restrictions within the UK itself to be aware of.
Again, always check the most up-to-date advice before you travel as these restrictions are subject to change.
As things stand, if you live in England, you can travel to other places in England on holiday.
However, on 12 October, a new three-tier alert system was announced in England of ‘Medium’, ‘High’ and ‘Very high’ depending on the local rate of infection. You can find a full breakdown of these areas here.
The government has now advised people against travelling outside a ‘Very High’ area they are currently in – or entering a ‘Very High’ area – unless it’s for the purposes of work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities, or if they are in transit.
It also said that people should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a ‘Very High’ area – or avoid staying overnight in a ‘Very High’ area if they are resident elsewhere.
Businesses in ‘Very High’ areas, such as pubs, bars and casinos will also be closed for at a minimum of four weeks.
However, if you are currently in – or travelling to – an area without local restrictions in place, you can go on holiday with people from outside of your household. This is so long as you travel in a group of six or less and socially distance from those outside your household group.
If you are considering travelling from England to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, we’ve listed the relevant restrictions below.
Additional measures were implemented in Scotland in October, including restrictions on opening hours and selling alcohol in Scotland, with stricter restrictions in its central belt.
Scottish residents can still go on planned domestic holidays, including those over half term. However, the Scottish guidance says: “Where there are no planned holidays, we do ask those in the central belt not to travel out-with their area unless it is essential.”
Scottish residents can travel to England and when they do so they should follow English rules. The Scottish guidance says: “Where these rules are different from Scotland consideration, people are urged to think hard about the public health implications”.
People from the rest of the UK can also travel to Scotland but should follow its guidance on staying safe and protecting others.
If you are staying in self-catering accommodation in Scotland, you must only stay with members of your household. In hotels, people from different households should not share rooms and households should not mix in an unregulated space such as a lounge.
Find out more here.
Some parts of Wales are under local restrictions which means that travel into and out of these areas should only be taken with a ‘reasonable excuse’ – which does not extend to a holiday. Areas under local restrictions include Llanelli, Cardiff and Conwy, but you can find a full list here. Note, you can be fined for breaking these rules.
There are no legal restrictions preventing people from travelling to and from other areas of Wales within the UK. The Welsh government says: “We are not telling people they shouldn’t come to these parts of Wales but we are asking people to think very carefully about making journeys.”
You can go on holiday with members of your household or support bubble and should maintain social distancing from people outside your household. Find out more here.
Localised restrictions in Northern Ireland – in Derry City and Strabane District Council area – mean that people living in these areas should avoid all unnecessary travel and people should only travel to these areas if it’s absolutely necessary.
Otherwise, you are allowed to travel to Northern Ireland or from Northern Ireland within the UK so long as you follow restrictions. The government advises:
“You should carefully consider your holiday and travel options, in light of the continuing COVID-19 threat. A ‘staycation’ is one way of mitigating the risks – while also supporting the local economy.”
In Northern Ireland, households are not allowed to mix indoors in private homes. The advice does not limit stays in hotels, self-catering accommodation or guesthouses but it says: “When possible we should all limit contact with others, particularly indoors in any setting, and follow the relevant advice and regulations.”
You can read the full advice here.
I still want to travel – what happens if I ignore the government advice?
If you travel against the advice of the FCDO, your travel insurance is likely to be invalid unless you have taken a specialist travel insurance policy out.
If you travel to a country or region that is not on the travel corridors list, you will have to self-isolate for two weeks on your return or face a fixed penalty notice of £1,000 in England.
If you don’t follow the legal restrictions around travel in the UK, you may be fined. In Wales, as an example, for most breaches, you can be fined £60, which increases to £120 for a second offence then continues to double up to a maximum of £1,920.
I no longer wish to travel – can I cancel and ask for my money back?
This completely depends on the terms and conditions of the travel company you booked with. Many travel companies have introduced more flexible terms and conditions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some hotel firms, such as Hilton, offer guests free cancellation or changes up to 24 hours before a stay, so long as you booked before 1 October.
Airlines such as easyJet are also allowing customers to change their flights to an alternative easyJet flight without a change fee so long as the change is made at least 14 days before your travel date.
However, if your company doesn’t have flexible terms and conditions and you’re not prevented from travelling by a local restriction, your travel company isn’t obliged to refund you simply because you’ve changed your mind.
You could talk to a member of its customer service team to see if there’s any flexibility in moving your holiday, but it’s not guaranteed.