The Canary Island have just been removed from the travel corridor list due to rising infection rates in Tenerife, throwing many winter sun holiday plans into disarray. The new status will apply from 4am, this Saturday, 12 December.
Elsewhere, Botswana and Saudi Arabia have been added to the travel corridor list. However, tourists aren’t currently welcome in Saudi Arabia and while you can go to Botswana, you must present proof of a negative Covid test taken no more than 72 hours prior to your departure and more crucially, the only way to reach Botswana currently is via South Africa, which is not on our travel corridor list, so you would still have to self-isolate on your return.
Back on home turf, now that Lockdown 2.O has ended, England has entered a three-level Covid tier system. What you can and can’t do now depends on which tier you’ve been allocated. The tier assignments will be re-assessed every 14 days.
The government has also announced that for a five-day period over Christmas, across the UK, travel restrictions will be lifted and people will be able to form three-household bubbles between 22 and 27 December (it’s actually 22 – 28 December in Northern Ireland, to give people time to fly to or from England, Wales or Scotland).
Only three areas – Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, are in Tier 1. London has been placed in Tier 2, along with Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Suffolk, Cumbria and a number of other places. However, infection levels are high in the capital and there is a chance that when tiers are reviewed on 16 December, it will be moved into Tier 3.
Tier 3 locations include Greater Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham, Sheffield, Chesterfield, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Kent and parts of Essex among others. For the full list of which areas are in which category, go to the Government Postcode Checker.
Those in Tier 1 must abide by the Rule of Six, both indoors and outside. In Tier 2, pubs can only open if they serve substantial meals alongside drinks, you can only dine inside with other members of your household or support bubble and outdoors, the Rule of Six applies. Hotels, B&Bs and holiday rentals can be open for individual household groups or bubbles.
Those in Tier 3 can only meet people from other households in outdoor spaces like parks. Hotels and restaurants must be closed, except restaurants offering ‘takeaway’. The rules vary slightly in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland so check relevant government websites for the most up-to-date information.
In terms of travelling to your second home, you can do so if you live in Tiers 1 and 2 and are travelling to your second home which is also in Tiers 1 or 2, as long as you keep within your household or bubble.
If your either primary residence or holiday home is in Tier 3, you cannot currently visit that second home. If, however, getting to your holiday home involves driving through a Tier 3 area, that is permitted.
You can now legally travel abroad regardless of tier, if the place you are travelling to permits it and you follow their guidelines. However, if you live in a Tier 3 area, you are strongly advised not to.
In addition, from around December 15, those returning from countries without a travel corridor agreement with the UK will find the 14-day quarantine on arriving back replaced by a 5-day ‘testing plan’, involving 5 days of self-isolation, followed by a Covid test. If the result is negative, no more quarantine is required. Travellers returning from a holiday will be expected to cover their own testing costs.
The government has been removing a handful of countries from the quarantine list each week but as illustrated in the case of Saudi Arabia this week, many countries around the world still have their own travel restrictions or are simply not ready to receive tourists yet.