Will I be able to go on a foreign holiday and how will the traffic light system work?

Britons have been told not to book summer holidays just yet, as the country waits to see if international travel will be allowed this summer.

Here’s the latest update on foreign travel.

When could international travel resume?

The Department for Transport has said that the earliest that foreign holidays could be permitted is May 17.

The government’s Global Travel Taskforce has not provided an update as to when international can resume.

The prime minister said he could set out “well before May 17th what we think is reasonable”.

He added: “I know that people watching will want to know exactly what they can do from May 17th but we’re not there yet.

How the traffic light system will work for international travel. Credit: ITV News

“As soon as we have solid information, more solid data, we’ll let you know.

“But that’s where we are for the time being.”

Currently, people living in the UK are banned from taking foreign holidays.

A £5,000 fine for anyone in England trying to travel abroad without a good reason is currently in force.

Which countries could Britons be allowed to travel to?

A traffic light system for international travel will be introduced, with the differing colours determining if and how long a person arriving back into the UK will need to isolate for.

Under the traffic light system, assessments will be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a country’s population which has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

These are the rules for each category:

  • Green: There is no need to self-isolate. Take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on day two of your arrival in the UK.

  • Amber: Self-isolate for 10 days, unless you receive a negative result from a test taken at least five days after arrival. Take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on day two and day eight of your arrival in the UK.

  • Red: Spend 10 days in a quarantine hotel. Take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on day two and day eight of your arrival in the UK.

It is unclear which countries will be green on the traffic light system – meaning no isolation upon return. Credit: PA Images

The Department for Transport said in a statement: “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 will set out by early May which countries will fall into which category, as well as confirming whether international travel can resume from 17 May.”

When could we know what traffic light colours different countries are grouped in?

It’s unclear yet.

But he categorisation of countries will be “kept under review” with a “particular focus on variants of concern”, the Department for Transport said.

Restrictions will be “formally reviewed” on June 28 to take account of “the domestic and international health picture and to see whether current measures could be rolled back”, the department added.

Further reviews will take place no later than July 31 and October 1.

A “Green Watchlist” will be introduced to identify countries most at risk of moving from “green” to “amber”.

Will I need a so-called vaccine passport to travel abroad?

The government did not make a specific reference to “vaccine passports” in its latest announcement.

It said the UK will play a leading role “in the development of international standards around a digital travel certification system”.

Work is ongoing within government to “consider the role certification could play in facilitating outbound travel, for those countries which have systems in place” as well as to develop “a system that would facilitate travel certification for inbound international travel”.

The concept of a vaccine passport would see travellers being required to show proof of receiving a Covid-19 jab to facilitate foreign travel.

While no official documentation has been issued by the UK government on this so far, Mr Johnson has said they will «definitely» become part of international travel.

«On the issue of vaccine certification, there’s definitely going to be a world in which international travel will use vaccine passports,» he said on a visit to Middlesbrough last week.


«You can see already that other countries, the aviation industry, are interested in those and there’s a logic to that.»

How will a country’s risk level be assessed?

Factors looked at will include the proportion of their population that have been vaccinated, the rate of infection, the prevalence of variants of concern and a country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

When will restrictions be reviewed?

Restrictions will be “formally reviewed” on June 28 to take account of “the domestic and international health picture and to see whether current measures could be rolled back”, the Government said.

Further formal reviews will take place at “checkpoints” no later than July 31 and October 1.

What other changes are planned?

The Government also plans to “digitise” the Passenger Locator Form and integrate it into the UK’s border system to allow checks at e-gates by the autumn.

How will travellers’ rights be affected?

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will be given “additional enforcement powers” to act on airlines that have breached consumer rights, with a consultation expected later this year.

A Covid-19 charter “will also be introduced from the May 17, that the Government said would “clearly” set out “what is required of passengers and what their rights are while measures remain in place”.

Passengers arrive at a Holiday Inn near Heathrow Airport, where they will remain during a 10 day quarantine period. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

What about domestic holidays?

Domestic holidays can begin from April 12, as the planned easing of lockdown continues.

Holiday home firm Cottages.com said two-thirds of its properties in coastal locations or with hot tubs have been booked for the week commencing April 12.

Simon Altham, group chief commercial officer at parent company Awaze, told the PA news agency there is “no doubt” that continued uncertainty about foreign travel has led to a rise in staycation bookings.

Feather Down, which offers luxury camping on farms across Britain, is “nearly sold out” for several weeks from April 12, according to co-founder Mark Gordon.

Bookings for this summer are more than double what they were at the same point last year, and more than 70% higher than in 2019.



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