The incidences of COVID-19 spikes around the world is unpredictable and with each spike comes a government edict to travellers to self-isolate on their return. With so few travel corridors in place, options for international travel for British holidaymakers who cannot self-isolate is minimal. 

There have been frequent calls from all corners of the travel industry to allow testing for arrivals into UK airports as a way of avoiding blanket quarantining. An alliance of more than 5,000 travel and tourism companies across Europe have issued a united appeal to put in place testing at the airport. Their message to the European Commission is that this would help save the jobs of 27 million people across Europe working in the travel and tourism industry. 

Up to now the response from the government was to point to a (disputed) paper published in June that testing for Covid-19 would only identify seven per cent of people with the virus. 

However, government thinking around this issue is shifting. The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, and the health secretary, Matt Hancock are due to outline a test-and-quarantine programme.

On Saturday, Stephen Barclay, the chief secretary to the treasury, told the Conservative Party conference that the government is looking at how this can be implemented. He said:

“There are a number of issues within the wider question of testing. We are acutely aware, both in Treasury and across Government, that this is a key issue with the sector and I hope the Government will be in position to say more about this in the coming days.”

Currently, there are around 30 countries who have put the test in place as an alternative to self-isolation or to reduce the time in quarantine.

Arrivals to Iceland for example are swabbed at the airport. They are then told to travel by car or taxi to their homes or accommodation and wait for the results. A positive test leads to 14-days isolation. A negative result means 4 days of isolation and a text telling them how to get a second test. If that is negative, they can leave quarantine.

Where can you go without a travel ban? 

At the moment the following countries open to travel. But this could change at any time.

  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Greece (Mainland only)
  • Sweden
  • Gibraltar
  • Liechtenstein