Sure, you can book a summer holiday aboard now, but will you actually enjoy yourself when you get there?
As Brits flock to the airport en masse, we take a look at the restrictions still in place once you step off the plane at some of the most popular green-listed destinations, from quarantines to curfews.
Be warned: face mask suntan lines are very, very likely.
Portugal has been touted as the holiday destination of choice right now, so the first thing you may have to contend with is hoards of British journalists at the airport asking for an interview.
On top of a PCR test before leaving the UK, you’ll also need to undergo health screening (i.e. a temperature check) upon arrival. If you’ve got a temperature or are showing any signs of being unwell, you’ll have to do another PCR test and remain at the airport until you receive your test result.
When you eventually break free, you’ll discover mainland Portugal is a little quieter than usual. Access to public spaces varies in different districts – depending on the Covid risk level – and the government’s website warns some shops and other commercial premises, restaurants and cafés may have shorter trading hours with reduced capacity. You can’t just move to an area with more going on, though, because the right to move between districts also varies.
You may also be surprised to hear the rules on pubs and bars are stricter than in the UK. Bars and nightclubs remain closed across mainland Portugal and it’s illegal to drink alcohol outdoors in public places, except for on pavement cafés and restaurants. Oh and booze can’t be sold after 9pm unless it’s with a meal, and there’s a 10.30pm curfew across all hospitality.
On top of all this, you have to wear a mask while walking along promenades and in restaurants and cafés until you’re seated. There have also been reports of Brits being asked to wear masks at the beach – the government website states that masks are obligatory “on entry and exit from beaches and while using sanitary facilities,” meaning you can technically take them off while you’re sitting down, providing no one else is close by.
Outside of mainland Portugal, restrictions also vary across Madeira and Porto Santo, plus The Azores, so do your homework first.
Australia and New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand are both on the UK’s green list, but pretty pointlessly, as entry to both countries is closed to most arrivals.
All international travellers entering either Australia and New Zealand need to undertake a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine at a designated facility – and you’ll need to apply for an exemption pass to even get into the country.
Essentially, unless you need to travel to Aus or NZ for compassionate reasons, dream on.
You’ll have to take a PCR test before travelling to Gibraltar, but you won’t be required to take any further tests on entry, or provide evidence of vaccination, or self-isolate, if you’ve come straight from the UK (and haven’t been anywhere else in the last 14 days).
The good news for your holiday, is that most lockdown restrictions in Gibraltar have been lifted. A big difference to the UK is that bars and restaurants are permitted to open with no requirement for face masks and no limit on the number of people at a table. Places of worship and shops are also open.
You’ll need to wear a mask in shops and on public transport, but there’s no requirement outside, so you can relax at the beach here and enjoy the sunshine.
Another country that’s on the green list, but you can’t really travel to, is Singapore. You can’t enter Singapore without prior permission from the Singapore government and there are limited reasons why you might be granted a pass (travel for work in some instances is an example).
Arrivals from most destinations will be issued with a Stay at Home Notice (SHN) for at least 21 days, which has to be completed in a hotel that you pay for. Again, probably not worth the hassle.
Entry into Iceland is also tricky – commercial flights to and from Iceland remain limited and you’re only allowed to enter the country if you can present a vaccination certificate or a certificate of previous infection/recovery. You also have to have a bunch of tests on arrival.
If you get that far, you’ll face some restrictions during your holiday.
Restaurants serving alcohol have to close at 10pm each night, and alcohol must be served while you’re seated. Bars and nightclubs are open, but have a 10pm curfew and strict number limit, meaning you might be jostling for entry.
You’ll need to wear a mask wherever the two-metre social distancing rule can’t be kept, plus always wear a mask inside shops, public transport and other indoor services.
So, how about that staycation?