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Travel quarantine rules to be relaxed

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Summer holidays could be back on with the Government planning to announce changes to both quarantine rules and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice.

The Government is planning to relax self-isolation rules for travellers arriving in the UK from some countries in early July – with the list of countries announced later this week.

Separately, the FCO is reviewing its travel advice. It advised against all but essential travel to all overseas destinations for 30 days on 17 March and extended its advice for an indefinite period on 7 April.

Quarantine regulations came into force across the UK on 8 June. The rules require people arriving in the UK from overseas to self-isolate for 14 days. Anyone found breaking the rules could be fined up to £1,000.

Country categorisation

In a written statement to Parliament on Monday, transport secretary Grant Shapps said the measures had contributed to keeping the number of Covid-19 transmissions in the UK as low as possible and helped protect the UK from a second wave of coronavirus.

Shapps said that the Government “will shortly begin to ease the health measures at the UK border” and allow passengers arriving in the UK to be exempt from self-isolation requirements in certain circumstances.

The exemptions will apply to passenger arriving by rail, boat and plane  by the creation of so-called “air bridges”.

Shapps said the decision has been made after the Joint Biosecurity Centre, Public Health England and the chief medical officer developed a categorisation of countries considered low risk for coronavirus.

However, he warned that even though travellers from some countries won’t need to self-isolate, they must continue to follow the public health advice on hand hygiene and social distancing.

Rory Boland, travel editor at Which?, says: “This is good news for many UK holidaymakers hoping to get away this summer, as long as the FCO also relaxes its advice against non-essential travel to the selected countries. Crucially this would mean that upcoming package holidays for those destinations can go ahead.

“Airlines and tour operators should offer free rebooking for people who cannot travel, whether that be due to health risks or because they are traveling to countries where the coronavirus risk is still deemed to be too high.”

Should you book a holiday?

Before booking a trip, travellers should make sure they check the quarantine rules of any country they plan to visit.

Spain announced last week that Brits would no longer be required to self-isolate on arrival in Spain. But other countries may have other rules.

Greece, for example, is not letting travellers from the UK enter the country until 15 July, despite the country opening its borders to other international visitors on Wednesday.

British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair announced plans to resume a large part of their flight schedule earlier this month.

However, with FCO travel advice against all but essential travel remaining unchanged, it meant anyone going on holiday would be uninsured as most travel insurance policies won’t cover passengers travelling against FCO advice.

If the FCO changes its travel advice this week it will be a game-changer for anyone planning an overseas trip this summer.