I’m choosing not to travel for now, but many travel corridors will be opening from Friday 10 July thanks to the government (at last) making an announcement on 59 countries/territories we can travel to without the need to quarantine on return (in England anyway) – weirdly, though, you may be required to be tested or quarantine when you get to the country (or simply not be allowed in, even though the UK government says you can go). Below is all the Covid travel info I can get hold of at this time.
- What happened to the traffic light system?
- Will I need to quarantine or be tested when I get there?
- Where can you travel to?
- When might the restrictions change?
- Is it safe to travel?
- Covid travel insurance
- What will travel be like?
- How do I know all this?
Please note that this is not official advice and that, apart from the travel corridors listed below, the FCO is still advising against all but essential international travel – if you go to destinations not listed below you will be asked to provide an address where you’ll self-isolate for 14 days (you can be fined £100 if you don’t complete these details, and you could be fined up to £1,000 if you fail to self-isolate). Please also note that this article is aimed at a UK (specifically, English) audience
What happened to the traffic light system?
We now have ‘travel corridors’ instead. The UK government seems to no longer have a traffic light system, making all of the countries I listed below ‘Green’ – i.e. there’s no particular warning or list of countries specified by the government that you cannot travel to. HOWEVER, if a country is NOT on the list below then you WILL be required to quarantine for 14 days when you return to the UK.
NOTE: although the UK government sets rules on these routes, quarantining rules may differ between each UK nation. Each destination country may also have testing and/or quarantine regulations in place when you arrive.
Will I have to quarantine or be tested when I get there?
Possibly. It depends on each country. In the list of travel corridor countries below I have added a 🕒 next to countries which will require you to quarantine (usually for 14 days), a 🌡️ next to countries which will require testing (either before you leave or when you enter), a 📝 next to countries which require a form to be filled out, and a ✅ next to countries where there are no restrictions. Even though the UK government is letting us travel, some countries may refuse entry due to the relatively high number of cases here – I’ve marked these countries with a ❎ (it’s unlikely that airlines will fly from the UK to these countries, but, if they do, you may be turned back when you arrive).
Where can you travel to?
According to the government: ‘From 10 July 2020, unless they have visited or stopped in any other country or territory in the preceding 14 days, passengers arriving from the following countries and territories will not be required to self-isolate on arrival into England’ (note: not Scotland, Wales or N Ireland). This list has been taken from the Department of Transport site, not the FCO site (the two lists differ).
Click on each country name, ‘Flights’, ‘Trains’ or ‘Ferries’ for the latest offers, or click on the itinerary links if you want some detailed planning help. I’ve also added ‘info’ links if you want more details, such as extra measures for incoming passengers (see above for explainer).
🇦🇩 Andorra (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇦🇹 Austria (free itinerary here) 🕒 (info >)
🇧🇪 Belgium (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇭🇷 Croatia (free itineraries here and here) 📝 (info >)
🇨🇾 Cyprus 🌡️📝(info >)
🇨🇿 Czech Republic ✅ (info >)
🇩🇰 Denmark ✅
🇫🇴 Faroe Islands ✅ (info >)
🇫🇮 Finland 🕒 (info >)
🇫🇷 France (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇩🇪 Germany (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇬🇮 Gibraltar ✅ (info >)
🇬🇷 Greece (free itinerary here) 🌡️🕒📝 (info >)
🇬🇱 Greenland 🌡️🕒📝 (info >)
🇭🇺 Hungary (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇮🇸 Iceland 🕒 (info >)
🇮🇪 Ireland (free itinerary here) 📝 (info >)
🇮🇹 Italy (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇱🇮 Liechtenstein (travel via Switzerland) ✅ (info >)
🇱🇹 Lithuania ❎ (info >)
🇱🇺 Luxembourg ✅ (info >)
🇲🇹 Malta (free itinerary here) ❎ (info >)
🇲🇨 Monaco ✅ (info >)
🇳🇱 The Netherlands 🕒 (info >)
🇳🇴 Norway ❎ (info >)
🇵🇱 Poland ✅ (info >)
🇸🇲 San Marino ✅ (info >)
🇷🇸 Serbia ❎ (info >)
🇪🇸 Spain (free itinerary here) 🌡️📝 (info >)
🇨🇭 Switzerland (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇹🇷 Turkey (free itinerary here) 🌡️📝 (info >)
Americas & Caribbean
🇦🇬 Antigua and Barbuda 🌡️(maybe 🕒 as well) (info >)
🇦🇼 Aruba ✅ (info >)
🇧🇸 The Bahamas 🌡️📝 (info >)
🇧🇧 Barbados (free itinerary here) ✅ (info >)
🇧🇶 Bonaire ✅ (info >)
🇨🇼 Curaçao ❎ (info >)
🇩🇲 Dominica ❎ (info >)
🇬🇩 Grenada 🌡️(maybe 🕒 as well) (info >)
🇬🇵 Guadeloupe 🌡️📝(maybe 🕒 as well) (info >)
🇯🇲 Jamaica 🌡️📝🕒 (info >)
🇧🇱 St Barthélemy 📝 (info >)
🇰🇳 St Kitts and Nevis ❎ (info >)
🇱🇨 St Lucia (free itinerary here) 🌡️ (info >)
🇵🇲 St Pierre and Miquelon 📝 (info >)
🇹🇹 Trinidad and Tobago 🕒 (info >)
Africa & Middle East
When might the restrictions change?
Disappointed that the country you planned to travel to isn’t yet part of the travel corridors? Don’t fret. If daily active cases in the UK and/or the country you wish to travel to continue declining, then the government will be more likely to include that country in the travel corridors, particularly if it’s a popular tourist destination.
Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, for example, are amongst the countries waiting for the UK’s number of cases per 100k to drop below 25 before starting to permit tourists from this country. I’ll try to keep this page updated as often as possible.
Is it safe to travel?
Even though flight, train and ferry companies have put in place many new Covid travel safety rules, it would appear that your safety is still almost entirely down to the responsibility of fellow passengers. Many travel corridors destinations are insisting that visitors at least take a test on arrival.
When you get to the airport you will be instructed on how to queue at check-in, security and when boarding. You will also see instructions on where to sit when waiting for your flight.
Airlines are requiring passengers to wear a face mask at all times, and to replace face masks every four hours (note that some destinations may require different types of masks to the UK). All airlines have put in place advanced disinfecting techniques. Some airlines, such as British Airways, are giving passengers a personal protection pack containing an antibacterial wipe and hand sanitiser – all but Emirates and Virgin Atlantic require you to bring your own mask(s). Take a look at the government advice for more detail. Virgin Atlantic also have a useful page detailing the measures they’re taking, as do easyJet and, slightly less useful, is Ryanair’s Covid page.
Airlines aren’t, however, keeping seats free between passengers and so social distancing along travel corridors is not possible. The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization has provided guidance to all airlines, but it’s not enforceable.
Similar to flights, you will need to wear a face mask for the duration of your train journey. You will need to supply your own mask. Every other seat on board Eurostar has been left empty and so it will be possible to maintain some level of social distancing (more details on their site). Train companies have also put in place advanced disinfecting techniques.
Ferry companies aren’t currently requiring you to wear a mask (although their staff will be). This, therefore, may be the most comfortable form of travel. In addition to making reserved seats and cabins compulsory, so as to ensure social distancing, ferry companies have put in place advanced cleaning operations. You can see more details about Britanny Ferries Coronavirus response here, P&O Ferries here, DFDS here, and Irish Ferries here.
Hotels and Hostels
Hotels are, perhaps, one of the safest places to be. Hotel managers are, after all, used to the idea of deep cleaning rooms. Although you may not be able to eat in their restaurants, room service should be available.
Some countries have implemented special training for hotel supervisors and have put in place rules for check-in queues, the removal of non-essential decorative items, as well as for keeping rooms empty for several hours between guests.
Of all the accommodation types I have seen preparing for guests during this crisis, it is probably hostels which seem to have been doing the most thorough job. Numbers of guests – especially in dorms – have been restricted by many hostels
AirBnB have asked their hosts to enact enhanced cleaning protocols, flexible cancellations and longer stays are being encouraged, and hosts have been given a vast array of advice on how to stay open during the crisis. HomeAway have been less insistent that their hosts put into place enhanced cleaning, but they do have guidance for their hosts. Unlike hotels, B&Bs are less tightly regulated, and so your safety is in the hands of your host.
Covid travel insurance
This is still an extremely unpredictable situation. Buying good insurance is, therefore, highly recommended. If you’re travelling in the EU, make sure that you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as you will still be able to receive treatment in local hospitals (UK citizens will no longer be eligible for EHIC after 31 Dec 2020).
Remember where I mentioned the FCO in the intro to this page? Well, that’s key to whether you’ll be covered by insurance. If the FCO advises against travel to a destination, then it’s highly likely you won’t be covered by insurance (this is true regardless of pandemics).
If you booked your trip and had travel insurance in place before the pandemic hit (most insurers use 12 March for this date) then you should be covered if you wish to cancel. You’ll find a vast wealth of information about cancellations and your rights on the MoneySavingExpert site.
Nationwide, Staysure, the Post Office, Alpha Travel Insurance, Insurancewith, JS Insurance, Trailfinders and Saga all now reportedly have Covid travel insurance in place which covers the virus, although some only cover cancellations and not medical treatment, plus most won’t let you cancel without good reason (i.e. not in the event that you change your mind about how safe it may be).
For more info and to compare insurers, click here.
What will travel be like?
It’s travel, Jim, but not as we know it.
You may well be required to take a swab test on arrival to your destination. Some may even insist that you remain in quarantine (which begs the question ‘is it actually worth travelling?’).
Flights will involve quiet, socially-distanced airports. Restaurants in airports will be closed, but pharmacies, some shops, and takeaway food retailers will be open. You may have to go through additional screening. Onboard your flight you will have to wear a mask for the duration and food may be limited, or non-existent. You’ll be sat directly next to other passengers, movement around the cabin may also be restricted and toilet visits managed by the crew. In short; air travel isn’t going to be much fun.
Train travel will feel much freer than flying – it will be easier to get up and walk around and you’ll have much more space, with every other seat on Eurostar left empty. Masks will still be required.
Ferries will offer the most freedom to roam and you won’t be required to wear a mask, although, again, restaurants will be closed and you will have to keep socially distant from other passengers.
When you arrive at your destination the cities will likely be much the same as the UK: quieter than usual, and with restaurants and some – if not all – cultural attractions such as museums shut down (although countries which have handled the crisis better than others will have already opened attractions – the Acropolis in Greece, for example). These restrictions are planned to ease further in July (the Louvre will re-open on 6 July), but the situation may change quickly depending on number of cases.
Beaches, bars and pools may feel emptier and you will likely be asked to keep your distance – a beach bar owner in Greece is even going so far as to put up plexiglass barriers between sun loungers.
In conclusion, going to countries with whom we have travel corridors is going to feel very strange and very unsociable. If you’re desperate, then you should be OK if you follow the rules, but otherwise I’d just wait until life gets much further back to normal
How do I know all this?
That’s a valid question. As I stated at the beginning, this isn’t official advice. I’ve put together all of the information here having followed the stories about air bridges since they first appeared many weeks ago. I note the confirmed information broadcast by UK travel journalists, I watch their video updates and I listen to their podcasts. I track government announcements, I monitor the FCO site, I listen to Parliament TV (so dull) and I read reports in local country media about travel corridors. I’ve also taken information from the sites of various tourist board, accommodation, airlines, ferry and train companies. Finally, I like to think that I can identify reliable sources having worked in travel for 20 years!
This blog is all about planning for travel and so I know how important it is to have as much accurate information as possible – if you have found it helpful then I would greatly appreciate a small donation (link below) if you can afford it. Happy (and safe) travels!
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