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What are the new rules for holidays in Europe and the US?

Heathrow passengers

The US will let fully vaccinated travellers from the UK – and many other countries – visit from November.

A ban on foreign travellers began in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic.

Can I visit the US?
From November, passengers can travel to the US from the UK and EU if they are fully vaccinated.

Dr Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, told the BBC that this should include people who’ve had the AstraZeneca jab.

The US regulator doesn’t currently recommend the vaccine, but Dr Fauci said he didn’t think it would be a “problem”, although the final decision rests with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccinated visitors will also need to take part in testing and contact tracing.

At present, only US citizens, residents and foreigners with special visas can enter from most European countries.

How are the green and amber lists changing?

From 0400 BST on Monday 4 October, the amber and green lists for travel to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be merged (Wales has not yet said whether it will follow).

Fully vaccinated travellers will no longer have to take a PCR test before returning from countries listed – including all of Europe.

Travellers will still have to take a PCR test two days after arrival, but this will be replaced by a cheaper and simpler lateral flow test later in October. The government hopes this will be in place “for when people return from half-term breaks”.

How is the red list changing?

Eight countries are being removed from 22 September, including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives.

If you visit a red list country you must spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel – at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers.

What if I’ve not been vaccinated?

If you haven’t been double-jabbed you will still need a pre-departure test.

You will also need a PCR test on days two and eight after arriving, and to self-isolate for 10 days on returning from a non-red list country.

Anyone who tests positive will need to isolate and take a PCR test. This would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.

Test to Release will remain an option for unvaccinated passengers who want to shorten quarantine.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have not yet decided whether to ease testing requirements.

What are the current rules?

Going on holiday abroad means taking Covid tests:

Your destination may require one – each country has its own rules
In the three days before returning to the UK, you will need to take a PCR or lateral flow/antigen test (not the free NHS tests)
Tests after you arrive in the UK must be PCR tests, booked before travel
The government advises passengers returning from Spain to use a PCR test.

Most private providers charge above £60 for PCR tests and £30 for lateral flow devices.

Amber list banner

What are the rules for amber list countries?
The vast majority of countries are on the amber list, including popular tourist destinations such as Spain, France, Greece and Italy.

Adults fully vaccinated in the UK, the US and most European countries don’t have to self-isolate upon arrival in the UK.

Those who are not fully vaccinated must self-isolate for 10 days.

A Covid test is needed three days before returning from an amber country, and a PCR test two days after arriving. Adults who are not fully vaccinated need an additional PCR test on or after day eight.

Under-18s do not have to self-isolate. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, under-11s don’t have to test before travel, but do need to take one two days after arrival. Under-5s don’t need to test.

In Scotland, children over 12 have to take tests before returning home, and on day two.

What are the rules for green-list countries?

Nobody has to self-isolate after visiting countries on the green list, unless they test positive or develop symptoms.

Returning you must:

Take a Covid-19 test before departure
Book a test for day two after your return (under-5s do not need to take these)
Complete a passenger locator form
Red list banner

What are the rules for red-list countries?

Red-list countries are those the UK government says should not be visited “except in the most extreme of circumstances”.

Dozens of countries are currently red, including Brazil and South Africa. If you have been in one in the last 10 days, you can only enter the UK if you are a UK or Irish national, or UK resident.

Returning from a red-list country, whatever your vaccination status, you must:

Take a Covid-19 test before departure and have proof of a negative result
Complete a passenger locator form
Self-isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel, booked and paid for in advance

Rates are:

10 days (11 nights) for one adult – £2,285
Additional adult (12 and over) – £1,430
Children aged five to 11 – £325.