The Balearic islands, including Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca, are moving back on to the UK’s amber travel list, leaving British holidaymakers in a tricky situation.
The Spanish islands will be demoted to the amber list from Monday July 19 – the same day that most lockdown restrictions end in England, Grant Shapps, secretary of state for transport, confirmed on Twitter.
The travel changes won’t pose a huge problem for adults who’ve been double jabbed, as from July 19, fully vaccinated adults no longer have to quarantine upon return from amber destinations.
However, those who are unvaccinated or single-jabbed – or those who’ve had their second jab within the last 14 days – will now face an unexpected 10 day home quarantine, plus extra PCR tests upon their return.
The news is likely to cause a headache for those currently abroad, but it’ll also disrupt plans for thousands of Brits with upcoming trips booked. What should you do next? We asked Emma Coulthurst, a travel expert at price comparison site TravelSupermarket, for her advice.
What you need to know if you’re currently on holiday
The changes come in from Monday, the same day the double vaccinated can beging to travel quarantine-free from amber list countries back to the UK.
“In this case, you will need to take the same tests as for return from a green country (a test 72hrs before your return to the UK and a PCR test on or before day two of your return), so you will already have the right tests booked,” says Coulthurst.
“If you are not double vaccinated, speak to your package holiday provider, if you are on a package holiday, they may be able to get you home early.”
If you have gone DIY and booked an independent flight, you can look to change your flight. But be warned: some airlines will charge you a fee to do so, while others won’t.
“If a fee is involved, look to see if it is cheaper for you to just book a fresh flight,” says Coulthurst. “Alternatively, if you are not double-vaccinated and you are able to self-isolate on return, you will need to organise a day eight PCR test and also a test to release PCR test on day five if you want to be released from self-isolation early.”
What you need to know if you’ve got a holiday booked
Bear in mind that if you are double vaccinated, from Monday (July 19), returning from amber list countries requires no self-isolation and the same tests as if you are returning from a green country. Under 18s are also exempt.
“If you are not double vaccinated and don’t want to or are unable to self-isolate, look to change your holiday to a green destination instead,” says Coulthurst.
Many of the package holiday operators have flexible booking guarantees to take account of the current travel situation, she says. But if you’ve booked independent flights, things are a little trickier.
Flights to amber destinations will still be taking off – the argument being that they need to run for double vaccinated holidaymakers and essential travel. Each airline has its own policies on cancellations and postponements – some will allow you to take a voucher to spend at another time, or change your booking to a green destination and pay the fare difference.
If you do opt to switch, remember to check the entry requirements of your new destination, as an increasing number of countries require Brits to be double jabbed or show evidence of a negative test before entry. There are also varying restrictions on travelling with unvaccinated children, which may impact your family holiday.