MSE News

England to add Portugal and Hungary to quarantine list

England to add Portugal and Hungary to quarantine list

Travellers returning to England and Northern Ireland from Portugal (though not including the Azores and Madeira), Hungary, French Polynesia and Réunion will need to self-isolate for 14 days if they return after 4am on Saturday. In addition, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is now advising against all but essential travel to all four destinations.

England and Northern Ireland will add mainland Portugal, Hungary and two French overseas territories – French Polynesia and Réunion – to their quarantine lists at 4am on Saturday 12 September.

At the same time, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced it's also advising against all but essential travel to these four destinations. This applies to travellers from across the UK, not just England or Northern Ireland – and is often the key factor in triggering refunds if you've a trip booked.

The Welsh and Scottish Governments had already asked arrivals from Portugal to self-isolate as of Friday 4 September.

The Scottish Government has also announced today (Thursday 10 September) that arrivals into Scotland from Hungary and Réunion will have to self-isolate as of 4am on Saturday. However, travellers returning to Wales from Hungary and Réunion are not required to self-isolate.

Both Scotland and Wales already had quarantine rules in place for French Polynesia.

For more help, see our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide and our Top 15+ holiday destinations – where can you still travel to? guide.

I'm travelling from an affected area into England or Northern Ireland – what do I need to know?

Unless you're exempt (details can be found on the Government website), if you arrive in England or Northern Ireland from Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia or Réunion after 4am on Saturday 12 September, you will:

  • Need to provide your journey and contact details when you travel to England or Northern Ireland.
  • Not be allowed to leave the place you are staying for the first 14 days you are in England or Northern Ireland, except in very limited situations (known as 'self-isolating').

In general, these quarantine rules apply to people arriving in England or Northern Ireland who have been in a non-exempt country or territory within the past 14 days – so you'll be affected if you've been in another country with a 'travel corridor' since leaving an affected area less than 14 days ago.

I'm travelling from an affected area into Scotland – what do I need to know?

Unless you fall within an exemption (details on these are available on the Scottish Government website), if you arrive in Scotland from Hungary or Réunion from 4am on Saturday 12 September, you will:

  • Need to provide your journey and contact details when you travel to Scotland.
  • Not be allowed to leave the place you are staying for the first 14 days you are in Scotland, except in very limited situations (known as 'self-isolating').

The measures apply to international travellers into Scotland irrespective of their point of entry into the UK, so if you arrive at a Welsh airport then travel into Scotland, you'll still need to isolate.

They also apply if you travel to Hungary or Réunion, then a country which Scotland has a 'travel corridor' with, and then back to Scotland, as long as you've been in Hungary or Réunion within the last 14 days.

If you break the rules, you could end up being hit with a £480 fine.

I had a trip booked and it's been cancelled – what are my rights?

Some airlines, such as British Airways and Ryanair, are operating flights to Portugal as normal, while others, such as Tui, have cancelled some flights. The good news is if your flight or package holiday is cancelled by a travel firm, it has to refund you in full by law:

  • Under the Package Travel Regulations, if a package holiday's cancelled you're due a full refund within 14 days. Though right now, it's often taking longer and getting a full refund during the pandemic has not always proved easy (for more help, see cancelled package holiday refunds).

  • If you have a flight and it's cancelled, then under EU flight delay rules you're due a full refund within seven days. Though again, right now there are delays to refunds and some have struggled to get them (for more help, see cancelled flight refunds).

Hotel stays booked directly are unlikely to be cancelled. If they are, there's no specific regulation governing these like there is with package travel and flights. You'd likely be owed a refund, but it would depend on local law.

I had a trip booked and it's not cancelled – what are my rights?

On top of the change in the quarantine rules, the FCDO is currently advising against trips to Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia or Réunion, though this advice could change at any time.

This means that if you have a package holiday booked to one of these destinations, under the Package Travel Regulations you should be able to get a refund within 14 days – even if the trip's not been cancelled.

If your flight or holiday is still running, you can't get a refund from the firm directly and you have insurance, it may cover you.

If an FCDO warning is in place for your destination at the time you're due to travel, you're likely to be able to claim on insurance if your policy covers coronavirus cancellation – this will usually be the case if you took out the insurance and booked the trip before mid-March, though this is not the case for all policies, so check.