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What the traffic light system means for your holidays

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A message from our founder, Andy

I wonder if you, like us here at HA HQ, were glued to Grant Schapps’ news conference on Friday announcing the reopening of international travel from 17th May, eagerly hoping to see your dream holiday destination on the “green” list? How did you feel when the rather brief list of destinations was revealed? What, you mean Tristan Da Cuhna isn’t on your bucket list?

In truth, I wasn’t sat here with bated breath – this initial green list was never going to be comprehensive, and we know that the government wants to proceed with an abundance of caution. However, thanks to our soon-to-be-launched Israel programme (watch this space!) you can at least travel to one green destination with HA! And despite this underwhelming “restart” of international travel, I think there is plenty of cause for optimism for those desperate for an overseas holiday.

Cause for optimism

What we have now is a clear mechanism and roadmap for a much more complete reopening of international travel. The government are going to publish the data on which they are basing their decisions, which gives the transparency that wasn’t there during the “travel corridors” fiasco of last summer. We know that infection rates and vaccination rates are key (and are clearly linked), so we know that as more countries establish good vaccination programmes, they will start to move on to the green list; as Israel, the US, and the UK have shown, if you can get on top of your vaccine rollout, you can make huge strides in a matter of months towards ending the pandemic. So I would expect that come the autumn that list of “green” countries is going to be substantially longer than it is now, and will include a number of HA favourites.

Updates to the list

We know that the lists will be updated every three weeks, and that countries at risk of moving from green to amber or red will be put on a watchlist, giving travellers more time to make arrangements to get home from those destinations before they change colour. 

The government has pledged reviews of the entire system on 28th June, 31st July and 1st October: the hope is that as the situation around the globe improves, these checkpoints will be when the government eases restrictions, for example getting rid of the requirement to test when travelling to and from a green list, or perhaps removing the need to self-isolate for those who are fully vaccinated.

When will I be able to go on holiday?

My overall assessment is that for the early part of the summer, you will be able to go on an overseas holiday if you want, with a degree of extra hassle (notably the requirement to have a high-quality Covid test within 3 days of your return flight to the UK, with a printed or digital confirmation of a negative result even when returning from a green list country). By the late summer and into the autumn, I think the requirements will be less onerous for green list countries, and there will be many more countries on the green list: so if you want more certainty and less hassle, aiming for the autumn and beyond for your holiday makes sense.

There’s going to be a period of many months where the restrictions and requirements of travel are fluid and evolving, and potentially quite bewildering for the traveller! Fortunately it’s our job to understand these, and the implications for your holiday, so you don’t have to. We’re always available to chat through your plans, and we have a variety of resources available, such as our Traffic Light Guide for you; we also have our Flexibility Promise, ensuring you’re covered in the event of any unexpected developments.

It’s an optimistic time: 17th May represents the first step on the road to a full reopening, and with the success of the vaccines not just here, but across the world, it feels like a really solid (dare I say irreversible?) step towards the full reopening of international travel we’re all hoping for. We can’t wait to talk to you about all the exciting possibilities as you plan those first post-Covid holidays!

Andy, HA Founder

(We know things are still fairly uncertain right now. But our team of experts are at the end of the phone on 01242 253 073 to answer any questions you may have about getting away on a much-needed holiday later this year or next).
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