Simon Calder answers 20 of your summer holiday travel questions

The travel correspondent of The Independent has latterly been serving to his crew mates aboard a cargo ship from the Baltic to Immingham, as half of an effort to handle the rising shortages on British grocery store cabinets.

But he handed over management of the bridge to a colleague whereas he tackled readers’ questions for a hour.

Red alert

Q: When do you assume the blanket ban on South America/decrease Central America will finish? Given vaccine charges and dropping instances it appears nonsensical to proceed to punish a complete continent!

“Trying to travel 101”

A: “Nonsensical” sums up nicely the pink listing standing for nearly all of Latin America. I’ve spent a very long time making an attempt to know the mindset of the officers within the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) who’re making all these choices (not less than in keeping with ministers, who say that they’re merely rubber-stamping the JBC’s suggestions).

I assume that they’ve some terribly secret supply of data that’s extra dependable than the globally obtainable information. That is the one method I can perceive that a complete continent is consigned to the no-go listing, when plainly some nations inside it are low threat.

For the avoidance of doubt, together with many different people I’m ceaselessly asking for the info that underlies choices. While that is comparatively simple to seek out for modifications (such because the shock transfer of Montenegro and Thailand to the pink listing yesterday), justifications for maintaining issues as they’re show much less simple to find.

Closer to dwelling, many potential guests to Turkey (staying pink) and Poland (staying amber) wish to know why they haven’t been upgraded to amber and inexperienced respectively.

Q: If the subsequent “traffic light” evaluate is due 15 or 16 September, with one other round 7 October, is it no coincidence that easyJet – having beforehand cancelled all flights to Turkey till March 2022 – has now reinstated flights from 9 October. What do they know?


A: One of the explanations that the airways have been more and more livid with UK authorities travel restrictions is the style of choices being handed on.

In regular circumstances, you’d count on a courtesy name from officers to airline bosses, about what’s going to quickly be introduced. Instead, they’ve generally came upon through leaks from authorities to journalists, or sudden revelations on web sites in Scotland or Northern Ireland, slightly than any advance information.

But easyJet could also be of the thoughts (shared by many of us) that Turkey can’t certainly stay on the pink listing past the subsequent couple of opinions – and hoping it may get some helpful last-ditch enterprise for Turkey, notably over half-term.

Q: Now that Thailand is newly on the pink listing, how lengthy do you reckon it could be till these restrictions are lifted?


A: Of the numerous doable candidates for inclusion on the pink listing, Thailand merely wasn’t one I had envisaged. I think about that the travel business and the Thai authorities will likely be a lobbying intensively for the lodge quarantine obligation to be eliminated.

In addition, there’s rising strain on the federal government to disclose the info behind its choices. But sadly as we’ve seen as soon as a rustic is on the pink listing, form of inertia appears to set in and it is rather troublesome to lose the high-risk standing.

The greatest I can hope for is that by October we’ve a complete re-drawing of the foundations with a shorter listing of pink listing areas primarily based on very express and measurable standards.

Q: Why did the Dominican Republic keep on pink? And is there an finish date for the site visitors mild system?

Lucie 123456

A: I do not know why they Dominican Republic – and for that matter the Maldives – stayed on the UK authorities pink listing. And I’ve equally no thought when the site visitors mild system could finish. There is definitely no urge for food that I can see for stress-free the tight management the federal government has on our actions.

Q: I’m in Montenegro, which has simply been added to the “red list”. My plan is to depart Montenegro earlier than it turns pink at 4am on Monday 30 August and cross the border to Albania – an “amber list” nation. If I fly again from Albania, would I be OK to enter the UK?

My argument is that my travel historical past is that I’ll have been in Montenegro whereas it was amber and Albania, nonetheless amber, for the earlier 10 days earlier than getting into the UK.

Or does Montenegro rely as a pink nation on my historical past as of Monday? I’d actually respect it for those who may please make clear this.


A: It appears a wonderfully affordable argument: that you’ve got spent the previous 10 days solely in international locations that, on the time if you have been there, have been on the UK authorities’s medium-risk “amber list”. If you will have been absolutely vaccinated within the UK or the EU, meaning there isn’t any have to to self-isolate on your return.

But I’m afraid what counts is the standing of Montenegro in the mean time you enter the UK. The query successfully being requested is: “In the previous 10 days have you spent any time in a country that is, at this moment, on the red list?”

If that is the case then you could pay £2,285 (or, if there are two of you, £1,858 every) for 11 nights in lodge quarantine, together with three meals a day and two PCR checks.

I think about you can be eager to keep away from this. So easyJet’s particular departure this night from Tivat in Montenegro to London Gatwick for £265 appears an affordable proposition.

Alternatively, if you’ll be able to spend extra, you can take pleasure in an prolonged holiday of 10 full days in both Albania or Croatia (on the “green watchlist”) in an effort to “launder” your Montenegrin standing.

Q: My household has been caught in Libya for just a few weeks now. Libya itself is amber, however there aren’t any direct flights to the UK. The solely oblique flights from Libya to the UK are through Egypt, Tunisia or Turkey. I used to be actually hoping that one of these three international locations could be promoted from pink to amber.

Do you understand of another method they might come to the UK from Libya with out having to hotel-quarantine on arrival? And what are the probabilities that each one these three international locations stay caught in pink till mid-October?

Adele UK

A: Sorry about this very troublesome state of affairs. I’m trying on the FlightRadar24 departures from Tripoli Airport, and whereas many of them are to pink listed Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey, there are additionally departures to Sudan (pink listing) and Niamey in Niger (amber listing – however on the Foreign Office no-go listing as a result of of considerations about violence there). Also simply because a flight is on FlightRadar24 doesn’t imply it is going to really go.

All I can counsel is ready for one of these three – Egypt, Tunisia or Turkey – to exit the pink listing. It received’t be lengthy.

Portuguese posers

Q: We’re travelling to Portugal subsequent week. Some of our occasion have solely had one vaccination and I can see on Portugal’s travel steerage it states anybody with no full two doses of vaccine they need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. We are solely staying for one week, so can these individuals quarantine in our villa for seven days and fly dwelling after this level? Or will they don’t have any selection however to remain for 14 days?

Steph W

A:, the web site for the Portuguese border pressure, makes it clear that self-isolation is feasible on the traveller’s personal property. But whereas quarantine can finish early with departure overseas from the UK, I don’t assume it is going to give you the results you want.

The website stresses that prophylactic isolation for 14 days is necessary. So I infer that they won’t permit early launch to depart the nation.

Q: I’ve seen experiences that Portugal have been going to formally settle for the Covishield vaccine (Indian-made AstraZeneca). Do you understand when that can formally be in place? Are there points now for individuals travelling to Portugal with this?

Emma J Okay

A: My understanding is that Portugal, like all different international locations, is being pragmatic. While the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine made in India remains to be technically not authorised by the European Medicines Agency, a vaccination that’s administered and recognised by the NHS is nice sufficient for them.

Q: Does Portugal settle for at dwelling antigen checks if double vaccinated?


A: It will definitely not settle for checks performed by individuals utilizing the free NHS lateral movement gadgets. Since the take a look at outcome has to incorporate the date and time the pattern was collected the date of the outcome, and so forth, a professionally performed the take a look at is all the time going to be the popular choice.

In transit

Q: I’m travelling from the UK to Switzerland through Amsterdam Schiphol subsequent week. I’ve had each vaccinations. Am I appropriate in considering there isn’t any testing requirement if I’m in transit via Schiphol and once I arrive in Switzerland?

Liz 16

A: The UK is taken into account “a very high-risk area without a virus variant of concern” by the Netherlands, and subsequently you have to to hunt recommendation from the airline (presumably KLM) concerning the process to look at.

Note that as a result of Switzerland is within the Schengen space, you’ll have to enter that zone at Amsterdam (a flight from the Netherlands to Switzerland is successfully home).

American adventures

Q: Any thought when the US will elevate its ban on entry from the UK? I booked flights and a lodge package deal with BA in January to go to New York and Washington in October. If, as appears seemingly, I cannot be allowed to travel, when would you advise approaching BA about getting the dates moved?

Andy 14959

A: You needs to be in luck. The president, Joe Biden, is in no hurry to take away his presidential proclamation banning UK guests. But it appears more and more laborious to justify, and can certainly have to alter someday quickly.

Just as a degree of steerage for the longer term I’d not dream of reserving an October journey to the US till maybe per week beforehand. There is all the time going to be capability.

Chinese whispers

Q: Sadly subsequent month it is going to be two years since we’ve seen our son whom lives in Hong Kong. We’ve actually missed our annual journey to Kowloon. Any indication when travel could resume with out 21 days quarantine?

H Webster

A: Hong Kong – and the rest of China – has been extraordinarily sturdy in its calls for for quarantine from travellers. As vaccination will increase, I think about that international locations that are at the moment being very laborious line will steadily ease their restrictions. But I hesitate to place any timeline on it – past saying, regrettably, I don’t assume it is going to open up earlier than 2022.

Italian connections

Q: What do you assume the probabilities are of Italy dropping the five-day quarantine for absolutely vaccinated travellers from the UK and when do you assume they’ll replace the steerage for Monday?


A: I’m very a lot hoping that the Italian authorities will replace us this afternoon to say whether or not or not they’ll proceed with the necessary 5 day quarantine for British guests to Italy. But if the final extension is something to go by, we could not study till Monday morning. Sorry.

Jab journeys

Q: I do know you’ve been requested about this loads however the lack of information is regarding, any updates concerning the UK accepting vaccines administered outdoors of the UK/US/EU?

I’m planning a go to on the finish of September, and despite the fact that Kuwait numbers are good, I don’t count on it to go inexperienced by then, so I’m extra hopeful about getting in quarantine free from the vaccine.


A: Sooner or later the UK authorities has to elucidate why it’s refusing to just accept correctly licensed proof of fully legitimate vaccinations carried out overseas. Failure to take action locations the UK in a class of its personal – and causes limitless issues for a lot of hundreds of individuals. It additionally helps the persevering with destruction of the inbound UK tourism business.

My guess is that in September, when ministers return to the workplace, somebody will lastly discover the immense injury that’s being triggered, and maybe counsel that these inexplicable insurance policies are reversed.

Spanish flyers

Q: Have there been any experiences of travellers having points boarding getting back from Spain to the UK with lateral movement outcomes, as an alternative of the UK authorities “preferred” PCR take a look at?

Simon W

A: None. It may be very irritating that the federal government added this complication. It additionally appears extremely pointless, on condition that the federal government claims 9 out of 10 British individuals already take a PCR take a look at earlier than flying from Spain to the UK.

I should be the odd one out – I’d all the time take a less expensive sooner and fewer nerve-racking lateral movement take a look at.

Q: Can you verify entry to Spain from UK is NHS vaccination QR code and SPTH type. Then antigen take a look at and passenger locator type on return to uk with pre-booked day two PCR?


A: Yes. You would possibly discover this new article helpful.

Q: I’ve been looking for out what the foundations are in Mallorca for this, however not discovering it. Do you understand what the foundations are within the occasion somebody checks optimistic on my flight over there? Thanks

Dan 1867

A: I’m not positive how a fellow passenger being infectious could be found – there isn’t any normal requirement for testing on arrival. So I don’t imagine there are any guidelines.

Testing instances

Q: If I land Bristol someday, keep in a lodge in a single day and fly out from Bristol the next day do I have to take a “day two PCR test”?

B Cleeve

A: Yes. Even although the federal government likes to name this post-arrival requirement the “day two” take a look at, in truth it’s “a day of arrival or either of the two following days” take a look at.

It could be best to get it accomplished on the airport on arrival. This may even maximise the general public well being profit, as a result of within the extremely unlikely occasion that you’re infectious, this may be quickly picked up and you can act accordingly.

Canadian affairs

Q: Canada has indicated that it is going to be open to worldwide leisure travellers from 7 September (US guests are already allowed in). Various Canadian web sites check with this date as (*20*) or “tentative”. My understanding is that the date relies on Canada’s home epidemiological state of affairs. Given that 7 September is just 10 days away, ought to we not expect affirmation of this date from the Canadian authorities. Have you heard something?

Fred Smith

A: My understanding is that the date remains to be deliberate, however I do know there are some vocal Canadian medical specialists who say that it’s too early.

As we’ve seen, modifications can happen – or not happen, on this case – at very brief discover. So I wouldn’t be reserving my flight to Toronto simply but.

Long-term planning

Q: How do you envisage travel altering following on from the 1 October evaluate? Do you assume the pink listing will likely be scrapped all collectively/transfer to dwelling quarantine? Trying to plan for a profession break with restricted success!

“Trying to travel 101”

A: I really feel your frustration. I do not know if the October evaluate of worldwide travel guidelines will lead to something – there was imagined to be one on the finish of July which got here to nothing.

Furthermore the transatlantic travel activity pressure shouldn’t be precisely brimming with concepts and optimism.

As a outcome I’m being extraordinarily short-termist in my travel plans, however I recognise that anybody making an attempt to plan a profession break goes to wish to have longer horizons. In your place I’d be taking a look at an unlimited and intriguing nation that I may spend a very long time exploring, resembling India, slightly than trying a multinational expedition.