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What you need to know about the traffic light zone system

At the beginning of the year, holidays and leisure trips were put on hold, leaving many of us wondering if we’d even get to go abroad in 2021. That being said, the Government is slowly re-introducing international travel, which will begin (hopefully!) from the 17th May, with certain destinations being given a tick of approval for us Brits to visit.

Last summer, an ‘air corridor’ system was introduced that allowed people to go on holiday and upon their return, be able to resume normal life rather than quarantine, so long as they had gone somewhere which deemed by the Government as relatively safe. This has now been replaced with a new traffic-light system, with all countries scored depending on different factors such as their vaccination rate.

You may be thinking, “This is great, but what if I want to go somewhere and it gets taken off the green list?”. Well, there will be a green watchlist, which will give people an early warning, ahead of time that a country is a risk of being demoted off the green list. This should stop you finding yourself in a situation whereby a few days prior to departure, you’re suddenly told you can’t go away anymore, or at least not to that destination, or worse, travelling abroad for your destination to then be taken off the green list and having to make the decision on whether to return home early to avoid long quarantine periods.

Do bear in mind that this system may not be adopted in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland as they all have different administrations. They may choose to follow in the same footsteps, or they may go with a completely different approach.

When do the new rules start?

Set your alarms, because as of the 17th May at 12:01 am to be exact, Brits are allowed to travel to any of the 12 countries on the green list, without needing an excuse. Traveling for fun will no longer be illegal!

What does the traffic light system mean for holidaymakers?

The traffic light system is there to determine which destinations would require quarantining and where they would have to do it.

Those returning for a green list country will need a negative Covid-19 test before you depart and will not have to isolate once they are back in the UK. You will have to take a PCR test on day 2 of your arrival, but other than that, you can go back to work and resume your normal life.

For those coming back to England from an amber destination, you’ll need a negative Covid-19 test before you depart, and will have to isolate for 10 days when you get back home. If you are considering this then do keep in mind that you will have to get a PCR test on days two and eight. You would still be able to use the test-to-release system on day five, which would mean, should you have a negative result, then you no longer need to quarantine.

If you are coming back from a red list country, you will need a negative covid-19 test before you depart and must enter a 10-day quarantine in a hotel deemed as acceptable by the government. Unlike returning from an amber country, this quarantine stint can not be cut short and you must do a PCR test on days two and eight.

What countries are on the green list?

As of the 7th May 2021:

You may have hoping that popular destinations such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece are on the green list, however they are currently amber countries. This is not to say this won’t change but for now, if you are planning on booking a trip to one of these places do remember the quarantine rule.

How often will the lists change?

Every three weeks the list will be formally reviewed and give countries the chance to be promoted to the green list knocked down into a lower tier. The Government are keeping the green list very small initially, but have suggested that more European countries will be added as vaccination rates improve in other countries and R-rates drop.

How do I get my vaccine passport?

You are to use the NHS app as proof that you are vaccinated. If your jab doesn’t show in the app or you don’t have a smartphone then you can call the NHS on 119 and ask for a letter confirming your vaccinations.

Can I go away if I haven’t been vaccinated?

The UK Government cannot decide whether you can enter a country or not without being vaccinated, they just approve whether you can leave the UK or not and which destinations they deem safe. Therefore, it is down to the individual countries to decide whether or not they will accept travellers who have no been fully vaccinated yet.

There seems to always be a new variant of coronavirus, will this affect travel?

One of the biggest worries for ministers, scientists and us Brits are when new variants pop up, which may not be able to be fought off by the current vaccine available. The Government are only allowing travel again because of how low fatality rates currently are in the UK, and the traffic light system is there to only permit holidays without a need to quarantine in low-risk countries.

The Government has made it clear that should they need to intervene or change rules because of a new variant, then they will do so, faster that the three-week review period.

We want to encourage you all to book a holiday and have something to look forward to after what has been a turbulent year for everyone. Our polices have enhance coronavirus cover to help protect both you and your holiday during these uncertain times. For information on our cover available, click here.

*Please note, Holidaysafe's online prices automatically include a 15% discount against our Customer Service Centre prices. This code entitles you to an additional 5% off your policy, and is a discount from the base price, not including the additional cost of optional extensions or any additional medical premium.
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