Making sense of it all

Whilst we aim to bring you up to date travel inspiration and to send you dreaming of that next holiday spot, it is also important, as your travel professional, that we help you make sense of the current UK Government and what the guidance around international travel looks like.

Below we have aimed to explain, simply, the findings of the Global Travel Taskforce report released earlier this month.  Here you will find the most relevant details (as we understand them) that will affect the restart of international travel.

We are of course, here to help, guide and advise so do get in touch with any questions.

Q:  When will international travel resume?

A:  17th May is the earliest date that international travel will resume without having to provide a valid reason for leaving the country.  On this date it will no longer be illegal to travel and there will no longer be a requirement to complete a ‘permission to travel’ form.

Q: Where can I go from 17th May?

A: This is not currently clear however it is expected that a traffic light system will be implemented. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has indicated it could be 2 or 3 weeks before any decisions will be published. We are staying abreast of these announcements.

Q: What does the traffic light system mean?

A:  Once international travel resumes, the expected traffic light system will be implemented meaning that destination countries will be classified as green, amber or red with the addition of a ‘green watchlist’.

Green – Arrivals will need to take a pre-departure test as well as a PCR test on or before day 2 of their arrival back into the UK.  The pre-departure test is likely to be a lateral flow test.  Travellers will not need to quarantine on their return to the UK (unless they receive a positive test result) or be required to take any additional tests.  This will positively reduce the costs of testing and the overall cost of their holiday.

Amber – Arrivals will need to quarantine for a period of ten days and take a pre-departure test as well as two PCR tests.  There will be the option of a ‘early release’ test to end self-isolation on day 5.

Red – Arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for “red list” countries which are detailed in the table below.

Green watchlist – To give passengers more certainty when travelling, a “green watchlist” will be introduced to help identify countries most at risk of moving from green to amber and to provide more assurances to travellers. Those countries on the ‘green watchlist” will be kept under constant review with a particular focus on variants of concern in relevant countries.

Q:  What about cruising? 

A: The UK Government has indicated that domestic and international cruises will resume alongside the wider restart of international travel, in line with the “traffic light” system.

Q:  How will the UK Government/scientists decide which countries are on which list?

A: 4 Key factors will be included in the assessment of which list a country falls into:

  1.  The percentage of that country’s population that has been vaccinated.
  2.  The rate of infection in that country.
  3.  The predominance of variants of concern in that country.
  4.  That country’s access to reliable scientific data.

Q:  Where can I get a PCR test and how much will it cost?

A: The cost and availability of PCR tests in the UK compared to the cost and availability in other countries is currently facing much criticism and scrutiny.  The UK Government has advised that they are working with the private sector to increase availability and drive the cost of testing down.

If you have a holiday booked with Greenstar Travel and it is necessary for you to take a PCR test, we will provide you with a list of facilities where you can book these before departure.  If you book with us we are able to offer a discount on PCR tests through Randox Toxicology, one of the UK Government approved suppliers.

​Q: Will I need a ‘vaccine passport’?

A: The UK will play a leading role in the development of international standards around a digital travel certification system. The Department for Transport is working across UK Government to consider the role vaccine passports could play in easing outbound travel to those countries which have certification systems in place.

The UK Government is also continuing to work towards developing a workable system that would facilitate travel certification for inbound international travel.

Q: How often will the restrictions be reviewed?

A: Restrictions will be formally reviewed on the 28th June to take account of the domestic and international health picture and to see whether current measures could be rolled back. Further formal reviews will take place at points no later than 31st July and 1st October.

Q: Will I still need to complete a passenger locator form (PLF)?

A: The UK Government has announced plans to digitise the PLF integrating it into the UK border control system and enabling checks to take place at e-gates by Autumn 2021. This is the ensure the UK’s borders remain safe and efficient once the numbers of passengers travelling through borders increase.

Q:  What is the best way to ensure that I am fully informed and my holiday is fully protected?

A: Book with us.  We only book and work with ATOL protected tour operators. We are ABTA members and agent members of AITO so your holiday will be fully bonded and financially protected.  We will always provide you with honest and impartial advice and expert guidance and advice from the moment you make an initial enquiry to the moment you return home.

 “International travel is vital – it boosts businesses and underpins the UK economy – but more than that, it brings people together, connects families who have been kept apart, and allows us to explore new horizons.

“The framework announced today will help allow us to reopen travel safely and sustainably, ensure we protect our hard-won achievements on the vaccine roll out and offer peace of mind to both passengers and industry as we begin to take trips abroad once again.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

Correct at time of publication – 20th April 2021