The Travel Column with Katie Butler, Total Travel

Katie Butler, owner of travel agents Total Travel, answers your questions about the latest rules and advice for holidaymakers

Sunday, 25th April 2021, 2:30 pm
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL: The ban will not be lifted before May 17. Photo: Getty Images

We couldn’t have hoped for a better week to re-open, plenty of sunshine and lots of customers old and new calling in to see us or give us a wave. We have been waiting for further updates on the restart on overseas travel and still are waiting on further clarity which we are hoping to have in the coming weeks. Here is what we know from the major tour operators.

Jet2holidays announced that they would delay the restart date to June 24 in the hope that further details on the traffic light system and testing requirements would come available. TUI and Easyjet still intend to fly from May 17 if possible. However, both are offering enhanced flexibility, and if you do not wish to travel so soon are offering departure date changes without penalty.

What are the details of the proposed traffic light system?

From May 17 the Government intends to introduce a traffic light system of green, amber and red classification for all countries. Once the traffic light system is officially launched we expect the ban on international travel to be removed and countries to be assigned their category, based on a range of Covid-19 metrics, including vaccination numbers and infection rates. The different traffic light colours will detail the requirements including tests and quarantine periods for arrival back into the UK.

Green: Arrivals will need to take a pre-departure test as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day two of their arrival back into England - but will not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) or take any additional tests, halving the cost of tests on their return from holiday.

Amber: Arrivals will need to quarantine for a period of 10 days and take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on day two and day eight with the option for test to release on day five to end self-isolation early.

Red: Arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for ‘red list’ countries, which include a 10 day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and PCR testing on day two and eight.

It is too early to predict which countries will be on which list over the summer, and the Government continues to consider a range of factors to inform the restrictions placed on them. We are advised that by early May we will know which countries will fall into which category, as well as confirming whether international travel can resume from May 17.

I am due to travel on holiday but am unable to quarantine, what are my options?

We expect to hear more from the airlines and travel providers once we know what category each destination is placed into. However, we already know that most travel providers will offer date or destination changes without penalty if your destination is amber. Likewise we do not expect that holidays to red categories will operate.

In addition to the entry requirements for arriving back into the UK, we are still waiting on the requirements for travel into most holiday destinations.

Will we need proof of vaccine? Will we need to provide a test result if we have not had the vaccine?

We hope to have this information in the very near future.

■ If you have a specific travel question you would like Katie to answer in her column, please email [email protected]