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What the Covid-19 traffic light system means for holidays & travel

As part of the English government’s roadmap out of lockdown, non-essential international travel is expected to resume from 17 May – with some restrictions. Find out how these restrictions will affect you

Departures at Heathrow Airport, UK (Shutterstock)

The UK government has announced a traffic light system for people travelling in and out of England, which will apply once the ban on international travel for non-essential reasons is lifted (probably on 17 May).

While the new rules apply only to England, it’s likely Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will follow the same rules.

The government has assigned a red, amber or green rating to foreign countries and islands. These ratings are based on each country’s coronavirus infection rates, coronavirus variants, their ability to identify variants, the success of their vaccination programme, the reliability of data and how many passengers transit through them.

The list is expected to be updated every three weeks, around 28 May, 18 June and 9 July. However, it may change with little notice and we will update it when it does – so keep checking that and our Coronavirus Updates to stay on top of the changes.

What does the traffic light system mean for you?

A green light

Adult and children travellers coming from a country assigned a green light do not need to isolate at home or pay to quarantine in a government-approved hotel when they arrive in England. However, these travellers still need to pay for a pre-departure test and a PCR test on the second day of their return. Read Travel Covid-19 tests: your full expert guide.

Green-light countries that are at risk of moving on to the amber list will be placed on a ‘green watchlist’ first.

An amber light

Adult and children travellers coming from a country assigned an amber light must isolate at home for 10 days. Day one is the day you arrive in England. You do not need to pay to quarantine in a government-approved hotel when you arrive in England.

These travellers will also need to pay for a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before the second and eighth day of their return. Travellers can also pay for a Test to Release test on day five. If the result is negative, you can stop self-isolating.

A red light

Adult and children travellers coming from a country assigned a red light must pay to quarantine for 10 days in a government-approved hotel when they arrive in England. The prices are £1,750 for one adult, £650 for an additional adult or child over 11 and £325 for a child aged five to 11.

These travellers will also need to pay for a pre-departure test and a PCR test on the second and eighth day of their return.

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