Portugal is to lose its spot on the green list, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary confirmed on Thursday.
Ministers decided to add Portugal to the amber list from next Tuesday at 4am after tests revealed what are believed to be previously-unknown variants of Covid. It will mean anyone returning from Portugal after then will have to quarantine for 10 days and take at least two PCR tests. The amber rating for Portugal will include Madeira and the Azores.
Sources said ministers had decided that with just weeks to go to the lifting of the final Covid restrictions on June 21, they should “not do anything that jeopardises further unlocking at this point.”
Meanwhile, seven countries will from amber to red, they include: Egypt, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Bahrain, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago and Afghanistan. Anyone returning from these destinations will be required to quarantine in a Government-approved hotel for 10 days at a cost of up to £1,750 per person.
No new countries will be added to the green category.
Overseas holidays resumed on May 17 when the blanket ban on travel was replaced with a ‘traffic light’ system, with countries rated ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’. Most European countries are ’amber’, meaning Britons returning from these countries have to self-isolate at home for up to 10 days and are subject to extra PCR Covid-19 tests.
These tests can be costly, with The Telegraph previously reporting on profiteering by certain providers. However, the Government has launched an official Covid test comparison website. The new gov.uk website provides travellers with information on the cheapest, quickest and most efficient Covid test companies in their region – ‘amber list’ test prices vary widely, however.
Arrivals from amber list countries have to pay for at least two PCR tests (on days two and eight of their return), and can opt to pay for a third after five days of self-isolation under the ‘Test to Release’ scheme. They can cut their quarantine time short if this test comes back negative (although will still be required to take the day 8 test).
Although the Department for Transport (DfT) has warned Britons not to visit destinations on the amber list, some tour operators have opted to run holidays to amber destinations..
After Portugal’s removal, the green list includes just 11 countries and territories.
The traffic light system only refers to rules that travellers will be subject to on their return to the UK. Some countries that qualify as ‘green’ are not open to tourism, such as New Zealand and Australia.
Here we answer the key questions on the amber list.
What is the ‘traffic light’ system?
A country’s vaccination rates, infection rates, the prevalence of variants of concern and its genomic sequencing capacity – or access to genomic sequencing – help to inform its ranking in the traffic light system. All people travelling to England must complete a passenger locator form before departure.
The ratings will work thus:
- Green countries: no quarantine, but a pre-departure test before returning to England and post-arrival PCR test
- Amber countries: pre-departure test before returning to England, two post-arrival tests and self-isolation on for up to ten days on arrival back in England(with the option to use ‘Test to Release’, which into cut the time in self-isolation)
- Red countries: non-residents banned entirely, compulsory hotel quarantine on return (and testing) for returning residents (direct fights are banned from most red-listed destinations)
The lists will be reviewed regularly, the Government has announced. The first changes are expected to come into effect on June 7, with the next raft of changes announced by June 28
What does ‘amber’ mean?
Any travellers arriving in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland from amber countries are required to self-isolate at home for 10 days (potentially reduced with a paid-for ‘Test to release’ on day five for those returning to England) and to take PCR tests on (or before) day two and on day eight of isolation, as well as taking a test before returning (they will need to provide proof of a negative result, which can be a printed document or an email or text shown on your phone) and completing a passenger locator form.
The Government currently requires each of the tests taken in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland to be a PCR test, which can be costly. Prices are slowly being reduced and the Government launched an official comparison site.
The Foreign Office has recently updated its guidance for a number of countries. Travel insurance will be valid if travelling to a country to which the Foreign Office does not advise against travel.
When will these ratings be reviewed?
The lists are to be reviewed every three weeks following the end of the travel ban. The first was due to take place on June 7, followed by June 28, July 19 and August 9. However, an update was provided today, with the changes that were announced coming into effect on June 8.
Should I book a holiday to an ‘amber’ destination?
It would not be advisable to do so. The Government advises against travel to these destinations. Meanwhile, you will be subject to up to 10 days of self-isolation on your return and extra PCR tests that you have to pay for. If you do plan a trip to an amber list destination then you should first check the Foreign Office advice.
If the Foreign Office advises against travel to that country then your travel insurance may not be valid. Meanwhile, if the Foreign Office does NOT advise against travel to the country then a tour operator would not be required to refund your trip should you no longer wish to travel due to self-isolation or testing requirements. In this case it might be best to postpone.
Which countries are amber?
These countries are among those rated amber (see the full list below):
Infection rate per 100k over the previous seven days: 299 (all figures are correct as of June 3)
Adult population with first dose of vaccine: 44.03%
Spain began to welcome back British holidaymakers from May 24, without the need for a PCR test on arrival, ahead of an EU-wide project to reopen for the summer season. Read the latest travel advice for Spain here.
Population vaccinated: 43.24%
Cases per 1,000,000 over seven days: 37.54
Portugal has reopened its borders to British holidaymakers, with proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test. Since May 17, Britons had been travelling to Portugal and the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores without having to quarantine on return. From June 8, those returning to the UK from Portugal and its islands will be subject to amber-list rules.
Infection rate: 100
Population with first dose: 39.54%
UK travellers must provide evidence of a negative result from a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival in Greece or proof of two Covid-19 vaccinations completed at least 14 days before travel (if you live in England, the NHS app or an NHS letter can be used to demonstrate your vaccination status in Greece). Those who can provide proof of either will be exempted of the need to self-isolate. Failure to provide proof of either may result in your carrier not allowing you to travel and will likely result in the Greek authorities refusing you permission to enter Greece.Visitors may also be required to take a rapid Covid-19 test on arrival, if reaching the country by air. Travellers must also fill in a passenger locator form no later than 11.59PM of the day before arriving in Greece. The Foreign Office has updated its advice and no longer advises against travel to certain Greek islands. Read the latest travel advice for Greece here.
Infection rate: 87.1
Population with first dose: 46.15%
From Monday 31 May, travel to France from the UK is permitted only for EU nationals, French residents, or those travelling for one of the essential reasons set out by the French Government. Arrivals from the UK who are resident in France may need to show proof of residence. Those who are not French residents or EU nationals will need to complete an International Travel Certificate to confirm their essential reason for travel.
From Monday 31 May, all travellers from the UK, including children aged 11 and above, will need to present a negative PCR or antigen COVID-19, carried out less than 48 hours before departure. Passengers arriving in France from the UK must agree to self-isolate for seven days on arrival, and, if over 11 years of age, to take a PCR test at the end of the isolation period. Read the latest travel advice for France here.
Infection rate: 35.35
Population with first dose: 44.9%
Italy did not make make the initial green list. However, travel to Italy is no longer restricted to residents or those visiting with absolute necessity.
People travelling to Italy must show evidence to their airline of a Covid-19 rapid antigenic or molecular swab test taken within 48 hours of travel.
There is no requirement to quarantine in Italy, from May 16 to July 30, unless you arrive without proof of a negative test. Those without a negative test result on arrival will be required to enter 10 days of self-isolation and to take a test at the end of this period.
Infection rate: 46.48
Population with first dose: 36.62%
Croatia is allowing entry to UK travellers for defined purposes, including tourism. Britons travelling to Croatia must carry evidence of their health status (which could include evidence of a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours of arrival in the country, proof of vaccination, or a certificate of recovery from a positive Covid result in the 11 to 180 days prior). Read the latest travel advice for Croatia here.
Infection rate: 34.3
Population with first dose: 38.72%
Travellers visiting Cyprus from the UK are required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test result taken with 72 hours of arrival. The records on an NHS App are sufficient proof of having been fully vaccinated.
Infection rate: 36.96
Population with first dose: 50.49%
Germany has classified the UK as a ‘virus variant area of concern’ and since midnight on May 23, Britons have not been able to travel to the country, unless for very specific reasons, amid fears over the Indian variant. According to the FCDO website: “From 23 May the UK is designated as a virus variant area of concern, which means that you may only enter Germany from the UK if you are a German citizen, a resident or their spouse/partner/child under 18, or if you can invoke an urgent humanitarian reason such as an immediate family bereavement.” Read the latest travel advice for Germany here.
Infection rate: 32.97
Population with first dose: 47.77%
Entry to Austria from the UK is currently prohibited by Austrian law, with some exceptions. Austria has issued a landing ban for direct flights from the UK to Austria from 1 June to 20 June 2021.
Infection rate: 109
Population with first dose: 49%
British nationals who are not resident in Belgium or another EU or Schengen country will only be permitted entry to Belgium for essential reasons. Those travelling will need to carry evidence of their reason for travel.
Infection rate: 118
Population with first dose: 43.36%
Non-EU or EEA nationals (including UK travellers) are not permitted entry to the Netherlands for non-essential reasons.
Infection rate: 9.76
Population with first dose: 32.86%
Barbados updated its entry requirements on May 8. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers must take a Covid-19 PCR test in the three days prior to their arrival. Fully-vaccinated travellers must then take a second test on arrival, but will be permitted to enjoy the island fully on receipt of negative result. Unvaccinated travellers must complete five days quarantine at approved accommodation before taking another Covid test. If and when their test result is returned as negative (results can take up to two days), they will be free to travel around the island.
Infection rate: 34.16
Population with first dose: 62.74%
The US has lifted its blanket travel ban on the UK in a move that raised fresh hopes of a transatlantic travel corridor. The US Center for Diseases Control moved the UK out of its level four category – which advises travellers against all travel – to level three, which allows certain non-essential travel such as for work or study. Read the latest US travel advice here.
The full ‘amber’ list
(These countries will be amber until 4am on June 8, when they will move to the red list Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago. Portugal will be added to the amber list at 4am on June 8).
- Akrotiri and Dhekelia
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- British Antarctic Territory
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- British Virgin Islands
- Burkina Faso
- Cayman Islands
- Central African Republic
- Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Czech Republic (Czechia)
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- French Polynesia
- The Gambia
- Greece (including islands)
- Hong Kong
- Marshall Islands
- Myanmar (Burma)
- New Caledonia
- North Korea
- North Macedonia
- The Occupied Palestinian Territories
- Papua New Guinea
- Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
- San Marino
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Korea
- South Sudan
- Spain (including the Balearics and Canary Islands)
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Maarten
- St Martin and St Barthélemy
- St Pierre and Miquelon
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- United States (USA)
- Wallis and Futuna
- Western Sahara