Fully vaccinated British holidaymakers risk quarantine on return to the UK thanks to the Government’s creation of a new “amber plus” list which could soon include Spain and Greece.
This is the view of a number of travel experts in the wake of the fresh quarantine restrictions applied to arrivals from France late on Friday.
Today was supposed to mark the beginning of the summer for travellers who have received both vaccine doses, but there are growing concerns the Government could spring similar restrictions on other destinations.
Data analyst Tim White said there are a number of countries that could join the roster which has been dubbed the “amber plus” list.
“Luxembourg has very high incidence of the Brazilian variat, so must surely be red at least amber plus,” he said. “Belgium, Netherlands and Germany must be at risk too – low incidence of variants but could change.”
The view was echoed by Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency. “France is one of the big three countries we visit each year and I think the concern is the Government will be looking at Spain and Greece and potentially add those to the amber plus category,” he told the i.
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78% of Britons rethinking their holiday plans
The UK’s traffic light system has made nearly eight in ten travellers (78 per cent) reconsider booking a holiday abroad this summer, according to new research by Booking.com.
Here are some other key takeaways from the study:
47 per cent of Britons say confusion about the constantly changing status of countries makes them very unlikely to holiday abroad this year.
Over a third (37 per cent) are concerned about having to quarantine on returning home – and the same number worry about not receiving a refund if they have to cancel.
According to booking data, eight of the top ten most searched-for destinations for summer are now based in the UK. That’s twice as many as in 2020.
The adventure holiday company that swapped Madagascar and Yemen for Scotland’s River Tay
Craving a challenge but unable to leave the country, James Henderson set out to track Scotland’s longest river from source to sea:
“If it wasn’t hard work, everyone would be doing it.” So said Tom McLay, our river guide, as we came to the end of a long day’s paddling as part of a “packrafting” expedition in Scotland. The trip, a descent of the River Tay, was arranged by Secret Compass – an expedition company that generally takes groups to far-flung places. However, with the mountains and rivers of Madagascar, Yemen and Kamchatka off limits, it has turned its attention closer to home.
This year it is staging two packrafting trips on the River Tay – packrafts being one-person inflatable boats that pack down small enough to fit into your rucksack until you reach your river. With any expedition you would expect an aim, or mission – and ours was to track Scotland’s longest river from source to sea.
Amber list ‘Freedom Day’: Where can you go?
Fully vaccinated travellers no longer need to isolate on return from an amber list destination. So where can you go on holiday this summer?
Emma Featherstone has investigated your options.
More than 30 countries and territories are accepting an NHS proof of vaccination letter or the NHS app, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Yet, among the 100+ countries and territories on the amber list, there is a vast variety of entry requirements for those who are fully vaccinated. There are also other points to consider, including whether direct flights are in operation to and from the UK, and if the Foreign Office (FCDO) is advising against travel to the destination. The latter can influence the ability to secure travel insurance and whether tour operators can go ahead with trips to that destination.
In addition to those destinations on the green list (and green watchlist), the following countries and territories are now open (as it stands) to fully vaccinated Britons, with no need to quarantine on your return home.
Extend ‘freedoms’ to international travel, says tourism group
International travel remains effectively off limits despite the arrival of the supposed “Freedom Day”, a global tourism group has warned.
Virginia Messina, senior vice president of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), said: “While the domestic holiday market is reaping the benefits of ‘Freedom Day’, with staycations booming, we are not out of the woods yet.
“International travel remains either off limits or frustratingly difficult for many. This means the door to significant overseas travel still remains effectively closed, especially following the new ‘amber list-plus status’ for France which caused such chaos last week.
“We need international travel; economically, socially and emotionally. Our pent-up desire to travel remains undimmed, and we must take advantage of the hugely successful vaccine rollout to safely resume it.
“We hope the UK government will extend these revived domestic ‘freedoms’ to include the freedom to travel safely internationally, so we can reconnect with the world and harness all the benefits that it brings to us as individuals, and collectively to the travel and tourism sector and the country.”
The best alternatives to the UK’s busiest beaches
With many preferred European hotspots still conspicuously absent from the green list – and the mercury (finally) climbing across the UK – it’s time to face the music: Britain’s beaches are going to be mobbed this summer. And who can blame us for flocking to Blackpool or Brighton for a weekend of sand and sun after the wettest spring on record?
Unfortunately, since you’ll be sharing your favourite spot of shoreline with the world and his wife this year, this ordinarily peaceful image now includes a blanket of towels and bodies as far as the eye can see in every direction, endless queues for the loo, an inevitably errant frisbee, and a swarm of bodies to plough through each time you decide to brave the waves.
But you’re in luck – the UK boasts one of Europe’s longest coastlines, which means that just around the corner from every heaving stretch of sand, there’s guaranteed to be an all-but undiscovered quiet cove just begging to be sunbathed, swam and sandcastled in.
BA, Ryanair and EasyJet all see stocks fall after Government’s ‘amber plus’ move
European airline and travel stocks tumbled Monday after Britain reimposed quarantine rules for people returning from France, stoking concern that the spread of coronavirus variants could halt a tourism rebound.
UK discount carrier EasyJet Plc dropped as much as 6.5%, British Airways owner IAG SA slumped 5.9%, Ryanair Holdings Plc, which has its biggest hub at London Stansted airport, fell 4% and package-holiday giant TUI AG slipped 4.3%. Air France-KLM was down as much as 4.6%.
The declines were triggered by the British government’s decision late Friday to continue requiring fully vaccinated arrivals from France to isolate amid concern about the beta Covid variant, creating a new category between moderate and high-risk in its “traffic-light” system.
The “amber plus” rule drew an angry response from tourism bodies and airlines, with International Air Transport Association Director General Willie Walsh saying the UK “has no coherent policy on international travel.”
Spotlight: What are cases like in Greece and Spain?
Saudi citizens to need two vaccine doses to travel
Saudi citizens will need two Covid-19 vaccine doses before they can travel outside the kingdom from Aug. 9, state news agency SPA reported on Monday, citing the ministry of interior.
The decision was made based on new waves of infection globally, new mutations, and the “low efficacy of one vaccination dose against these mutations,” the statement said.
Saudi Arabia is on the UK’s amber list, meaning double vaccinated Britons can return form the kingdom without needing to quarantine.
‘France going ‘amber plus’ is inhuman – I’m double-jabbed and just want to see my family’
The decision is also nonsensical – with the Beta variant largely found in French overseas territories, not the mainland, writes Marie Le Conte.
“There are a number of things I have missed over the past year and a half; dramatically running to the bathroom to weep on a night out was not one of them. I was having a pint with two friends on Friday evening when I saw the news; France was to be put in a new travel category, meaning that even the double jabbed would have to self isolate after coming back.
“Twelve years in Britain have taught me to conceal my emotions whenever I can, but this was too much. I had tickets booked for the end of July to finally go see my family, and this update had put an end to my plans.
“I was going to go to Paris to see my brother for a few days, then down to Nantes, where I grew up, to see my parents and grandparents. We had all been looking forward to it for so long. I broke down.
“I have not seen a single relative for over a year; every phone call I have had with one of them over the past few months has started and ended with: when will you come see us? Does the government not care about people like you?”
Video: Weekend heatwave hits UK
First passengers depart Glasgow for amber list Balearics
Passengers on the first flight from Glasgow to the Balearics on Monday expressed few concerns about quarantining when they get back despite the islands moving to the UK’s amber travel list, reports PA.
Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca were moved to amber last week because of a surge in cases; however, many people had already booked to go while they were part of the green list.
As Scotland moved to Level 0 of its coronavirus restrictions, one of those at Glasgow Airport for the 7.15am Jet2 flight was Jacqui Sutherland.
Ms Sutherland, heading to Ibiza for a week with her partner, told the PA news agency: “We booked when it was on the green (list) and then we did kind of wonder what to do when it moved to amber.
“But because we’re double-vaccinated we don’t have to quarantine. My friend is a travel consultant and said that if anything happens they will send flights out to bring you home before it went on to the red.
“That’s why we booked when it was green because if it went to amber we were still OK… a wee bit of a worry but we’re going to go anyway because at the moment it’s all good.
“Both my girls have only got one vaccine so they’re just not going at all because it’s too much of a risk.”
Quarantine rules ‘excessive’, says France
Britain’s imposition of restrictions on travellers from France seems rather “excessive”, France’s junior European affairs minister said on Monday, after London said visitors would need to quarantine for 10 days after entering the country.
“We don’t think that the United Kingdom’s decisions are totally based on scientific foundations. We find them excessive,” Clement Beaune told BFM TV.
How to bag the best-value winter sun holiday now
It may seem ridiculously early to be planning a winter sun holiday. After all, most of us haven’t even had a summer break yet. But then this is not an ordinary summer – many people aren’t managing to get away at all, or have opted to stay in the UK rather than head for the Mediterranean, say.
So, this winter could be the first chance for an overseas holiday for nearly two years. And there are few better ways to celebrate than a week luxuriating on a sandy, palm-shaded beach while the chills and gloom of December or January descend on Britain once more.
But why think about booking now?
Freedom Day farce as Boris Johnson urged to end ‘pingdemic’
Boris Johnson is under pressure to end the “mad” system of self-isolation as he and two other top ministers were forced into quarantine on “Freedom Day”.
The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, and Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, are all isolating after the latter tested positive for Covid and the other two were identified as close contacts.
Downing Street initially said Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak would avoid the required 10 days in isolation by taking part in a pilot scheme allowing them to return to work. But it was forced into a U-turn after just 160 minutes following a backlash from MPs of all parties, businesses and the public.
Downing Street and the Cabinet Office have now withdrawn completely from the trial, The Telegraph can disclose.
In the wake of the farce, ministers are urging Mr Johnson to ditch the requirement for fully-vaccinated people to self-isolate entirely, as the Government announced that frontline health and social care staff who have had both jabs can continue to work if they are “pinged” by the NHS app.
Monday was described as “Freedom Day” after the Prime Minister announced that it would spell the end of all legal Covid restrictions.
Can I travel to France, and what are the latest Covid restrictions?
Double jabbed Britons must enter up to 10 days of self-isolation on return from France. This is despite a rule change coming into effect on July 19 that will mean immunised British travellers arriving from other amber list destinations are exempt from quarantine.
France has been placed under a new system dubbed “amber plus” with rising concern over the spread of the beta, previously known as the South African, variant, and fears it may be more resistant to the current vaccines.
The announcement came on July 16, less than three full days before the rule change for vaccinated Britons arriving in England from amber list destinations is due to come into force. It is likely to upset holiday plans for tens of thousands of people.
Anyone who has been in France in the previous 10 days will need to self-isolate (as was the case ahead of July 19) on arrival to England and will need a day two and day eight test, regardless of their vaccination status.