You can almost hear the national Hurrah! as Boris Johnson’s road map out of lockdown reaches 17 May, the day going on holiday is no longer illegal. 

The ‘declaration to travel’ (think of this as an exit permit) that the English and the Scots needed to fill out has been dropped away along with the £5,000 fine that would have been slapped on anyone trying to leave the UK.

Travel to green list countries

Quick-off-the-mark holidaymakers arrived in Portugal this morning

Sounds good? Well, hang on a minute. Yes, the government’s “Stay in the UK” message has gone, but the newly released green list has a meagre 12 destinations on it, and that is unlikely to change in the next review.

Out of those 12, you can only feasibly visit three: Portugal, Iceland and Gibraltar. You will still need a PCR test to go and one to come back to the UK. Quick-off-the-mark holidaymakers arrived in Portugal this morning, especially to the Algarve.

British Airways said they are offering PCR tests at the reduced price of £40.00.

Travel to amber countries

The Department for Transport recommends against travel to amber and red-listed countries because of fears of the virus spreading in some parts of the world.

Last night Matt Hancock said people should “certainly not” go on holiday to nations such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece because of the risk posed by mutant strains of the coronavirus.

Boris Johnson sent a sombre warning that the ending of all restrictions due June 21 in England, may have to be delayed because of the risk from the Indian variant.

Confusingly the advice from the Foreign Office has dropped official warnings against non-essential travel to key holiday hotspots, including the Canary Islands and Greek islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu and Crete.

Why is the green list advice sometimes at odds with that of the Foreign Office?

Oddly, the two lists offer conflicting advice for some destinations. We are told it is because the traffic light system and the Foreign Office focus on different risks. While the traffic light system focuses on “variants of concern” entering the UK, the Foreign Office advises on the risk on health and safety for the individual at the destination. An obvious example is Israel. 

What about travel insurance?

If a country is on the green list and the Foreign Office gives the green light, travel you will be able to go, and your travel insurance will cover you.

If the Foreign Office advice is against all but essential travel, which is the case in France, Italy and Spain, your travel insurance will become invalid if you still travel to those destinations, 

I am going anyway. What can I expect when I get back?

For some, the holiday experience trumps all the inconveniences. Be prepared to self-isolate when you get back, and you will have to identify where you will do so on your mandatory Passenger Locator Form.

Like all returning travellers, you will have to show a negative test result, taken no more than 72 hours before arrival at the UK border. Another PCR test is required on or before day two after you return to the UK. You must take a further PCR test on day eight.

Your test package must be booked using a UK government-approved provider before arriving in the UK. On average, you can expect to pay at least £141 per test.  You cannot use the NHS for travel tests.

In England, you can take advantage of the Test to Release scheme by taking another PCR test on day five. If this is negative, you are free to end self-isolation.

Can I blag it?

In case you are wondering if you can blag it, you can’t. The Home Office has hired the private company Mitie to carry out up to 10,000 home visits every day to check that individuals comply with the rules and check the results of their test.