Far from making things clearer for prospective holidaymakers, the new traffic light system seems to have made the travel roadmap out of lockdown even more confusing. This has resulted in more questions than ever! What is the new traffic light system? How does it work and how will it affect your post pandemic travel plans? Read my simple guide to find out.
What is the traffic light system?
The new traffic light system in itself isn’t really anything new as we have been subject to a more rudimentary form since the introduction of mandatory hotel quarantine back in February. With the exception of Ireland and the Common Travel Area, all other countries were by default amber. From the 17th May, the following will be required for passengers arriving in the UK.
Green: No quarantine, 1 x pre departure test and 1 x PCR test on or before day two following arrival into the UK.
Amber: 10 day home quarantine, 1 x pre departure test and 2 x PCR tests post arrival plus the option of an early release from quarantine test on day 5.
Red: 11-night quarantine in a government managed hotel at a cost of £1750.00 per person, 1 x pre departure test and 2 x PCR tests post arrival.
The UK government currently advises against travelling to amber or red list countries for non essential purpose. Please refer to the official gov.uk website for details.
What determines the classifications for each colour?
Country classifications are set according to the following criteria: prevalence of variants, vaccination rollout, genomic sequencing and infection rates. As a result, the status of a country could change as time goes by. A green watch list to identify countries at risk of changing lists will provide more notice to travellers.
It’s worth remembering that the new system is not reciprocal. Check restrictions both at home and destination when booking your trip. A green open door here may not be the case elsewhere.
Who pays for the costs of testing and quarantine?
Passengers are responsible for all costs of testing and quarantine. Some companies such as TUI and Hays Travel are offering reduced priced PCR tests as part of their holiday packages but these discounts are only available to their customers.
Can you cancel if you don’t want to travel due to the new restrictions?
Disinclination to travel is technically not a valid reason for a refund. However you should not travel against FCDO advice. The Competition and Markets Authority’s stance is that if a service cannot be provided due to the pandemic that customers should ‘generally’ be entitled to a refund.
Failing to pay the balance of a holiday could be deemed as non payment and charges incurred accordingly. If you are considering cancelling your trip, contact your tour operator to discuss options. To boost consumer confidence, many companies are offering flexible deals, which guarantee refunds and amendments with no charge should the country you are travelling change status. Check the terms and conditions of any agreement carefully before booking.
How can you book a post-pandemic holiday with confidence?
Book a package holiday with a reputable travel agent for maximum protection should things not go to plan. Pay by credit card for additional Section 75 cover and take out travel insurance. Although none offer full protection from coronavirus related incidents, most insurers now offer some kind of Covid 19 cover. Some cover is more comprehensive than others so is well worth looking in to. You can read more on my top tips for booking a post –pandemic holiday in this guest blog post for Travel Radio.
I hope I’ve helped to explain the basics of the system but if there’s anything else you’d like to ask, please feel free to pop your question in the comments.