UPDATE (February 9): In an effort to stop as-yet-unidentified new strains of the virus entering the country, the UK government announced last month that all travel corridors would be temporarily scrapped.
All incoming travellers must now provide a negative test result from within the past 72 hours and quarantine for ten days (in England this can be cut to five days if they take another test at their own expense and it comes back negative).
Travel is also currently banned from around 33 ‘red list’ countries. British and Irish citizens, plus official UK residents, are still being allowed in, but must quarantine in a hotel at their own expense from Monday (February 15).
Starting next week, all arrivals in England, regardless of whether they are having to quarantine at home or in a hotel, must also take further tests on days two and eight after they arrive. These will be available to book via a dedicated website. The test-to-release scheme will still apply on day five (but as per the new testing rules, travellers must also take a test on day eight, even once they’ve stopped self-isolating).
Over the past six months, you likely will have heard about the UK’s ‘air bridges’ for quarantine-free travel to around 60 countries. For anyone eager to get out and explore the world again, it sounds like the stuff of lockdown-induced dreams.
Look closer at the details, however, and your options don’t seem quite so expansive. Just because the UK has opened up a ‘travel corridor’ with a country – removing a mandatory self-quarantine period on arrival back to the UK, and revoking the official advice against travel – doesn’t mean you’re welcome there.
In fact, in many cases, countries on the UK’s safe-travel list still have their borders closed to international visitors and no flights available. In other places, you’re free to travel but you’ll still face a quarantine of up to 14 days on arrival. And since a new, more transmissible Covid-19 variant first detected in the South-East of England was found to have spread across the whole country, many nations have now suspended flights to and from the UK entirely.
Meanwhile, growing concern over another more infectious strains circulating in South Africa and Brazil has led to the UK banning travel altogether from several African countries, all of South America and Portugal. New rules aiming to curb the spread of new strains also require travellers to the UK to present a negative test result from within the past 72 hours on arrival.
So the question is: where can you actually go, and not have to quarantine either when you land or when you return home? Here are all the countries and territories currently open to UK travellers, along with information on flights, testing, and health and accommodation forms you may have to fill out.
Antigua and Barbuda
This Caribbean archipelago is allowing in Brits, but you must complete an accommodation form in advance and a ‘health declaration’ form on the flight, as well as provide a negative test result from within seven days of arrival. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are running direct flights.
You must fill out a ‘health declaration’ form before departure and present a negative test result from within the past 72 hours on arrival. There are no direct flights.
As of October 25, the Maldives is now on the UK’s ‘travel-corridor’ list. All international visitors must present a negative test result from within 96 hours of arrival. British Airways is already running direct flights. Note that all non-tourist arrivals (such as residents, work visa holders and returning students) will have to quarantine for ten days.
There are no quarantine restrictions. All travellers will, however, be required to bring a negative test result from within the past five days, and take another test on arrival and self-isolate for 24 hours while awaiting the results. There are no direct flights.
Brits arriving on the Caribbean island must provide a negative test result from within the past week. There will be further temperature checks at the airport, and you must spend your entire stay at an ‘authorised’ hotel. BA is running direct flights from London.
Turks and Caicos Islands
As of November 14, the British overseas territory has joined the UK’s ‘travel-corridor’ list. You will have to provide a negative test result from within the past five days on arrival, along with valid health insurance and a completed ‘travel authorisation’ form. There are no direct flights.
An up-to-date list of all UK ‘travel corridors’ can be found here. But remember that, as in the case of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, France and Turkey, the British government may choose to reimpose restrictions at a few hours’ notice, meaning you could still have to quarantine when you get home. Note also that rules may differ slightly for travellers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Certain ‘high-value’ business travellers, along with journalists, sportspeople and performing arts professionals, should also be aware that, as of December 5, they may no longer need to quarantine on their return from any country.
Remember, many countries are still warning against all non-essential travel and some are quarantining all overseas arrivals, including their own returning citizens. Check all the relevant restrictions before you think about travelling.
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