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Balearic Islands and Malta among destinations added to UK's quarantine-free travel 'green list'

Holidaymakers returning to the UK from the Balearic Islands, Malta and Madeira plus a number of other destinations won't be required to quarantine from next Wednesday (30 June), after changes were announced to the travel 'green list'. But huge uncertainty remains over travel, with the Government warning many of the destinations it's adding to the green list could drop off it again, and some European countries talking of tightening their own entry requirements for British tourists.

Here's a summary of the main developments on a key day for the reopening of travel:

  • UK-wide changes were announced to the quarantine-free travel green list. They'll come into force from 4am on Wednesday. The 16 destinations added include the Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca), Malta, Madeira and a number of Caribbean islands such as Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Bermuda, plus much less well-known options such as the tiny Pitcairn Islands in the south Pacific. Six destinations have also been added to the red list - see full info on how the traffic light lists are changing below.  

  • Most of the additions, with the exception of Malta, will also join England's 'green watchlist'. That means while the destinations are quarantine-free for now, they're at risk of moving from to the amber list. 

  • Fully vaccinated holidaymakers may be able to return from amber list countries without quarantine "later in the summer". The Government said it intends to roll this out but gave no exact timescales - see more on how the amber list rules may change below.

  • Huge questions remain over countries' own entry requirements. Crucially, when you're deciding where to go it's not just about what the UK rules are, but whether the country you're going to will let you in. While Malta and the Balearic Islands, for example, are currently accepting British tourists, the future remains uncertain. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have called on other EU countries to require Brits to quarantine on arrival over concern about rising coronavirus cases in the UK.
For full help on what to consider when booking, plus refund rights, travel insurance help and more, see our  Coronavirus Travel Rights guide. Please note this story broke late on Thursday evening - the info below is correct as of 9pm but we'll be updating it again on Friday.

How the traffic light lists are changing

As part of a system of new rules on international travel, the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments have placed destinations in one of three categories, as set out below. (Destinations are currently generally categorised in the same way by England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, though that could change in the future.)

Traffic light system - a summary of the rules from 4am on Wed 30 Jun

Category Destinations on list Rules on returning to England

27, incl Australia, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel**, New Zealand & Singapore currently plus new additions incl the Balearic Islands**, Malta and Barbados**. See full Eng list / NI list / Scot list / Wal list


• Must take pre-departure test when returning

• Must take polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day two of your arrival back to England

• You WON'T need to quarantine on return, unless you get a positive result

• Test packages must be booked before departure from one of the Government's approved list of providers

150+, incl much of Europe (eg, France, Greece, Italy & Portugal), the USA, Morocco & Sri Lanka. See full Eng list / Scot list / Wal list (no separate NI list)  • Must take pre-departure test when returning
• Must take PCR test on day two AND day eight after arriving
• Must self-isolate for 10 days after arrival - can be at home
• You can end self-isolation early on day five by taking an additional test
• Test packages must be booked before departure from one of the Government's approved list of providers

56, incl Brazil, India, South Africa & UAE currently, plus new additions incl Eritrea, Tunisia and Uganda. See full Eng list / NI list / Scot list / Wal list • Must take pre-departure test when returning
• Must take PCR test on day two AND day eight after arriving
• Must undergo 10 days of managed quarantine in a hotel, which could be pricey (currently in England single adult travellers are charged £1,750 for their stay). This must be booked before departure.

Day two/eight tests and managed quarantine packages must be booked before departure. If booking tests, see our Covid test cost-cutting tips. ** These countries are on England's green watchlist and so could revert to amber at short notice.

It's not just about the traffic light lists - Foreign Office advice and entry requirements are key

While the traffic light lists are important and have been the subject of huge speculation in recent days, it's important to remember they're only one piece of the puzzle. If you're considering travelling, there are two other key checks to make:

  • Check the UK Foreign Office's advice on whether it's safe to travel. This is key for travel insurance cover and your rights to a refund. If the Foreign Office advises against "all but essential travel" or "all travel" you aren't supposed to go, and this may trigger a refund. Travelling in defiance of the advice may also invalidate your insurance.

    In the past, the Foreign Office advice hasn't always aligned with the traffic light lists, though it's worth noting that its guidance on visiting the Balearic Islands was updated today so that it is no longer warning against non-essential travel there.

  • Check the destination's own entry requirements - there's no guarantee they'll let you in. For example, Australia has long been on the green list from a UK perspective, but it's not letting holidaymakers in.

    Here are some examples of the entry requirements of key new additions to the green list, all of which are currently letting British tourists in: 

    - Malta - the UK is on Malta's amber list, meaning you can travel to the country, but you must have resided in the UK for more than 14 days before travel and take a PCR test within 72 hours of arrival.
    The Balearic Islands - arrivals from the UK do not have to provide a Covid-19 test unless they have travelled to an at-risk country in the 14 days before arrival. 
    - Barbados - you will need to arrive with a negative PCR test taken no more than three days before. If you are vaccinated, you won't have to quarantine, but if you aren't, you'll need to quarantine for a minimum of five days and undergo two PCR tests.

Fully vaccinated travellers may soon not have to quarantine after visiting amber list countries - but we don't know when the rules will change

The Government said in its announcement that it intends to change the rules for those arriving from amber list countries, so that travellers who are fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine. It says this is likely to happen in phases, starting with UK residents. Arrivals will still be required to take a pre-departure test and a test within two days of arrival. 

No clear timescale was given for this change though, other than "later this summer". More detail will be announced in July.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We’re moving forward with efforts to safely reopen international travel this summer, and thanks to the success of our vaccination programme, we’re now able to consider removing the quarantine period for fully vaccinated UK arrivals from amber countries – showing a real sign of progress.

"It’s right that we continue with this cautious approach, to protect public health and the vaccine rollout as our top priority, while ensuring that our route out of the international travel restrictions is sustainable."

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