There’s a lot of confusion and arguments around travel to amber list countries in 2021. Can I travel to an amber country? Should we? What are the restrictions? How expensive will all the testing be? We’ve gotten ourselves in a bit of a collective twist.
There are a lot of opinions on the matter too. Some believe we shouldn’t have amber at all, and the government should have only set out red and green listers. Some believe the government should simply stop contradicting themselves. Others think we just need more green listers so that holiday makers have more to work with.
Whatever your stance on the matter, none of it is particularly clear at the moment. It is a difficult time for travel as businesses must decide what stance to take on amber countries and whether or not they should be promoting travel there.
We cannot clear up the whole mess, with the world is such a state of upheaval in 2021, this is perhaps just another needle in the needlestack. But we can answer a few questions and put all the quarrel in one place so that you can treat the amber list in the way that’s right for you.
Can I Travel to Amber List Countries?
Legally? Yes. There are many more restrictions, and different recommendations based on the country that’s on the amber list though, so make sure to do your research. For example, Greece is an amber lister, however, the government have advised that you do not travel there unless it is essential, except for the islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu, and Crete.
In terms of the restrictions from the UK Government if you do travel to amber list countries, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- You can go for non-essential travel (though you might want to double check for specific destinations).
- You must follow the restrictions even if you are fully vaccinated
- Restrictions upon arriving in the destination may vary, you should check the government’s travel advice site to find out the country’s restrictions.
There is a set of restrictions you need to follow in the 10 days before you return to the UK, as listed below:
- Take a Lateral Flow Covid-19 test
- Book day 2 and day 8 tests to be taken upon your return to England (there is also an optional day 5 test-to-release. If this comes out negative, you can exit quarantine but you must still take your day 8 test).
- Complete a passenger locator form
Upon arrival in the UK, there are then further steps to be taken to ensure you are Covid free and safe to return to daily life after your holiday. These are as follows:
- Quarantine at home or in another place of stay for 10 days
- Take your Covid tests on or before day 2, and on or after day 8
- Take your test-to-release Covid test on day 5 if you choose to do so (this is optional, but you must still take your day 8 test, whether you do day 5 or not.)
Once you have completed quarantine and tested negative on day 8 or 5, you are free to return to your regular plans back home. It is also worth noting that children under 4 who travel with you to an amber list country do not need to take the tests on day 2 and 8.
So, in the most basic sense of ‘can I travel to amber listers?’, yes, there is legally nothing stopping you from travelling to these countries unless the countries themselves state otherwise.
In saying this, it is vital if you do choose to travel to these countries, that you follow all the restrictions to the letter as they are even more important for the safety of you and others. We also highly advise that you do the research thoroughly. Not just in the case of the country’s restrictions but looking into all the advice out there for your destination and deciding based on this whether you would still like to go or it would be better to hold off.
What Countries are On the Amber List?
Before asking yourself ‘can I travel to an amber country?’ it is important to consider if there is an amber destination you wish to travel to. You can find an up-to-date list of all the amber countries on the government website. Each time an update is completed (the next update will be coming on June 28th), this will be updated too.
At the moment, the amber list holds most countries across the globe. This is because these countries aren’t up to the same levels of Covid safety as the UK or our green listers, but they’re not in a very difficult position with high variant rates like our red listers. They’re kind of in limbo.
If there is a country on the amber list that you’d like to travel to, we do recommend that you do some research to see if there’s a possibility of it becoming a green lister in the next update. You can also check how soon the next update is just in case. If it is, for example Spain is pushing a lot at present, then it might be worth waiting for those changes to making booking easier and safer.
Since the updates will come fairly regularly, it is worth keeping an eye on them for anything that might be changing categories. It could save you a lot of time in the long run if a country you want to go to is going to move. Alternatively, most travel companies will allow you to move your booking if the country becomes amber.
Will I Be Able to Book a Holiday to an Amber Destination?
Generally, yes. Though travel companies are all at different stages in terms of amber destinations, there are a fair few who are going ahead and advertising trips to amber list destinations.
Equally, there are some travel companies that are selling holidays in those destinations but simply are not advertising them. This situation is a big debate for travel companies in this way. There’s a clear tug of war between doing what the client wants, and trying to assist in keeping everyone as safe as possible in these tough times.
Since you can legally travel to these destinations, some travel companies are selling these holidays and protecting them as much as possible to give consumers the confidence to travel.
We highly recommend talking to your PTS member about the amber destination you intend to travel to. They will most likely have some good advice for how to proceed if you want to travel to these places. PTS are doing all we can to ensure consumer and travel company protection alike, including making sure everyone is well informed.
However, ultimately the responsibility is in your consumer hands.
What Is the Government Advice About?
There is a lot of debate going on surrounding the government advice on amber destinations. And a lot of debate over the meaning of ‘can I travel to an amber country?’ as opposed to ‘should I’. And, whatever your opinion is, it’s all getting more confusing the more that’s added to the discussion.
In short, the FCDO, Boris Johnson, and Grant Shapps, have all advised against going to amber list destinations for anything except essential travel. Which does beg the question; why is there an amber list at all?
A lot of comments have agreed that perhaps there should have just been red and green lists to avoid this confusion. Grant Shapps has insisted that the advice is not confusing, and amber and red destinations are simple not for holiday makers.
In saying this, Shapps is also calling for extensions to the green list as we are waiting for the world to catch up with the UK’s vaccination progress, so things are looking hopeful for an extension to the green list.
As briefly mentioned earlier, Greece has proved to create a lot of confusion. Since some of the islands are deemed okay for holiday, but they are still on the amber list, whereas the rest of Greece is essential only, this only brings up more questions.
Later, FCDO advice stated that if people feel a trip to visit family and friends is essential, then that is their decision, but they would still advice against it if you do not feel it is a vital trip.
Because of this advice, a lot of consumers are rightly confused. Legally there is nothing stopping travel, but amber seems to be viewed like red when it all comes down to it.
However, despite all the conflicting advice and restrictions, the decision on whether or not to travel to amber is in the consumer’s hands. This is a dangerous position to be in unprepared. We urge you to follow all the restrictions, do all the research you can, keep in good contact with your PTS member, and most importantly, make sure you are thoroughly protected.
Will I Be Protected by Travel Insurance?
Our biggest piece of advice would be to make sure you have excellent travel insurance.
Unfortunately, this is looking like a very difficult prospect when it comes to amber destinations, or any destinations that fall from green to amber.
However, very difficult is not impossible. So if you do intend to go to an amber destination, it is crucial that you find good travel insurance to protect you. If you need some advice finding the right travel insurance for you, you can visit our travel insurance page to learn more.
At the moment, this is tricky so make sure to read the fine print. Some insurance companies will protect you against the change from green to amber, some will not. Some will extend your insurance to cover impromptu quarantine, some will cover hospital bills if you have a covid-related emergency. For the most part, if there is advice against holidaying in a destination, travel insurance will not protect you. However, some will, so make sure you do your research.
What’s PTS’s Advice for Travel To Amber Destinations?
Here at PTS we are doing everything we can to support out members and their consumers by keeping everyone updated on information and finding the safest ways to operate.
We’re working hard to ensure our members can provide you with the best holiday they can, whether they decide to sell holidays in amber destinations or not.
Our biggest piece of advice is to stay informed and do your research. Check the restrictions in the destination, check any other risks in that country as Covid-19 may not be the biggest threat, and check your rights as the consumer.
There are a lot of things you will be protected against, you can find out about these things through our Package Travel Regulations and Consumer Protection page. However, there are equally a few things, especially surrounding the pandemic, that are your responsibility as the consumer to be aware of.
Stay prepared for the risks you are taking and make sure you’re well protected by booking a package holiday through one of our fantastic PTS members. Or, if you’d like suggestions on which fabulous member to book with, you can contact PTS by calling 0207 190 9988 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.