The Foreign Office has relaxed its rule on “all but essential” travel for a number of destinations worldwide.
After three months with little possibility of a summer holiday, the UK Foreign Office has finally relaxed its ban on non-essential travel, with the introduction of so-called “air bridges” to more than 60 destinations. Today, the government department stated that it “has updated its global advisory against ‘all but essential’ travel, exempting destinations that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers.” A range of destinations across Europe, the Americas, and Asia are now seen as acceptable destinations, meaning you can travel there from July 4 without flouting UK travel advice.
Some of the UK’s favourite travel spots are now open to visit, including Spain, France, Cyprus, Italy, and Greece (although UK visitors won’t actually be allowed in until July 15, due to recently-extended Greek rules). Crucially, UK travellers won’t need to quarantine upon their arrival back on these shores, and with many of these destinations having relaxed their own quarantine rules, it could pave the way for a near-normal summer holiday. Most EU countries are on the list, but one conspicuous absence is Portugal, where UK tourists are only allowed to travel to the island destinations of Madeira and The Azores as opposed to the mainland.
Further afield, Brits can also jet off to the Bahamas, Canada, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand and more. Countries where the coronavirus outbreak is still posing a high risk, such as the USA and Brazil, are not on the list of acceptable destinations. Though this travel advice applies to the entire UK, the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales haven’t yet signed up to the scheme – meaning that for the moment, only people living in England can take advantage of the change. Furthermore, the Foreign Office will be constantly reviewing the travel status of these countries, and notes that “no travel is risk-free, and disruption is still possible”, so holidays are taken entirely at your own disgression.
There’s also a new traffic light system in place to determine how freely UK travellers can more between these destinations and vice versa. Countries where the coronavirus outbreak has been successfully controlled – Germany, New Zealand, and Australia amongst them – get the green light from the Foreign Office (although it will still be up to local authorities whether to let UK travellers in or not). An amber light is given to places that will get travel corridors once both their government and the UK governments have struck reciprocal agreements to let travellers move freely in both directions.
It is still a tad confusing, so if you are suddenly inspired to take a getaway, do check the Foreign Office website and local tourist boards to see the exact rules for each country – and if destinations require a COVID-19 test upon arrival, a quarantine is still likely if you test positive. You’ll also need to be aware of local restrictions regarding restaurants and bars, tourist attractions, beaches, accommodation, and social distancing, which are always best checked in advance.
See the full list of countries now exempt from the Foreign Office’s “all but essential” travel rule here.
Also published on Medium.