What you need to know about this summer’s travel restrictions

Words and image by Kat Mallett

Summer is finally in full bloom, with the advent of warmer days and longer evenings here at last. As we all flock to the parks and pub gardens to soak up the long-awaited summer sun, it is tempting to find yourself dreaming of being abroad on a white, sandy beach, indulging in a well-needed summer holiday. Unfortunately, the global Covid-19 situation is still unstable, and in the words of ABBA, the prospects of a foreign festival or holiday romance are “slowly slipping through our fingers”. This article is your 2021 guide to travel this summer, as things may not be as bad as they seem…

The rules for travelling abroad this summer are somewhat ambiguous and unpredictable, with the introduction of the UK’s new ‘traffic light’ system. To put it simply (if that is possible) the traffic light list categorises countries in three sections: green, amber, and red. When travelling abroad to countries on the green list this summer, you must complete a test and have a negative result before your departure and complete a test two days after you return. However, there are very few countries actually on this list, with Portugal due to be removed from the list today. The amber category also involves testing before you travel, two and eight days after you return, and having to complete a 10-day quarantine upon your return. Finally, people returning from red list countries must be a UK or an Irish national/resident, have a negative Covid test, and self-isolate for 10 days in a hotel which must be paid for in advance. The government advice is not to travel to amber or red list countries, due to the uncertain Covid situations there.

With all of the restrictions and rules, it is seeming extremely difficult to travel abroad this summer. Booking a holiday to one of the countries on the ever-dwindling green list is a risk, and an expensive one at that. Risk aside, the private tests themselves are also pricey, so you are racking up the pound signs before you have even booked a flight or ordered a cocktail at the pool bar! However there is some hope as the lists are being reviewed by the government every three weeks and therefore the categories are likely to be subject to change. So, although Portugal is being removed from the green list today, in a few weeks more countries could potentially be added – which gives us a little glimmer of hope.  

Unfortunately, summer 2021 is looking like it is not going to be straightforward sunshine and roses, like we had all hoped for. However, as more people become vaccinated globally, the power the virus has to significantly control our lives slowly lessens. The re-opening of pubs, restaurants and bars in the UK has given us all a sweet taste of ‘normal’ life and it is easy to take for granted the joy of eating inside or re-visiting the cinema once again. It is crazy to think that just a few weeks ago we were not allowed to meet our friends or eat inside a café. Therefore, this summer it is more important than ever to focus on the little things and appreciate everything. Although it may not be feasible (especially on a student budget) to go abroad this year, we can try and make the most of the unpredictable British summer weather and explore the country that we call home. There are many articles on the Quench Travel page with ideas about places you can visit this summer and enjoy the perfect ‘staycation’.

All that’s left to be said is summer 2022, we’re looking at you…