The Travel Column with Katie Butler, Total Travel
There are worse places I could be sat writing this week’s update, but I took the plunge and I’m currently relaxing in the sunshine, next to a cooling swimming pool and drinking a cold beer, on the stunning island of Kos. More on this next time...
Last week of course was the review of the traffic light system and as expected this time we saw very little change. Prior to the update there was a huge amount of speculation in the national press that Spain and Greece could be moved to red status. Arrivals from a red list country must quarantine in an isolation hotel at their own expense. It was a huge relief to hear this did not happen. We don’t expect that either of these destinations will go red without fair warning, as the amount of holidaymakers in these destinations far outweighs the amount of beds available in the isolation hotels.
What were the changes this review?
A handful of countries turned from amber to green in the most recent travel announcement. These were the Azores (Portugal), Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania and Switzerland. The latest changes are welcomed, particularly for those with loved ones in these destinations; however, travel to some of these countries may still remain challenging. There was no movement from the green list to amber, and also no movement from the red list to amber. This was a huge blow for Turkey, which was expected to finally change from the red list. There were two additions to the red list, namely Montenegro and Thailand. The Government said that these moves reflected the increased case rates in these countries and the higher risk that travel from these countries poses to UK public health. Ordinarily, we would have had several customers in Thailand at this time of year. However, with borders to Thailand closed for leisure travel we thankfully did not have to deal with repatriation of customers to get them home before the quarantine date was imposed.
I am double-vaccinated; do I need to test to come back into the UK from green and amber countries?
As it stands, England and the UK are behind our European counterparts - if you are double-vaccinated and live in a EU country you are able to travel freely within the EU without the need for tests, although passenger locater forms are still required. The UK travel and tourism industry are calling for a relaxation in the rules on costly testing requirements. Figures also reveal that only four in 1,000 double-vaccinated holidaymakers are testing positive for Covid on their return to the UK, according to new research. Henry Smith MP, chairman of the all-party Future of Aviation group, told the Telegraph the findings justified replacing PCR tests for amber and green countries with the better-priced option of lateral flow tests.
Perhaps the Government will wait to review the testing requirements to return to the UK once the main summer holidays are over, or maybe they will keep them the same for the imminent future. I look forward to giving a full update next week once I have returned, but so far so good in Kos and as it stands so far, definitely worth the small inconvenience of the extra paperwork required.