Coronavirus: Should you book a foreign holiday and where can you go?

Credit: PA

On August 22, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced those arriving in the UK from Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago will need to self-isolate.

The countries have been removed from the government list of places that do not present an "unacceptably high risk" of coronavirus to British travellers.

As the goalposts are moved frequently on travel restrictions and rules, ITV News explores whether it is worth going on foreign holidays at all, where you can go without having to quarantine on return, and more.

  • The new coronavirus travel rules, explained:

Where can I go on holiday if I don't want to quarantine when I get back?

Holidaymakers can travel to more than 50 destinations - including Italy, Turkey and Cyprus - without requiring a quarantine period when they return to the UK.

Although some popular holiday destinations, like Spain and France, have been taken off the government's list of 'safe' countries, many remain.

Portugal is the latest to be added.

You can travel to the common travel area i.e. the Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man without self-isolating on return.

Each UK nation sets its own quarantine rules. They are very similar, but there are exemptions - for example, in Scotland tourists returning from Switzerland must quarantine.

Italy is on the Foreign Office's exemption list. Credit: PA

Should I book a holiday at the moment?

That depends, Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: "With new restrictions on foreign travel being introduced every week, it's really only safe to head off abroad if you're confident you can quarantine for two weeks on your return.

Mr Boland added that the government's list remains "under constant review", meaning countries can be taken off the list without warning.

The government also highlights the risk of being expected to quarantine or self-isolate in your holiday destination if the local authorities ask you to.

If you do decide to book, Mr Boland advises taking the following steps to reduce the risk of being left out of pocket.

  • Consider booking a package holiday, as this will give you better protection if foreign advice changes, while many package holiday providers also offer flexibility if you can't travel because of test and trace or a local lockdown.

  • Be sure to book with a reputable provider that is committed to paying refunds if something does go wrong.

  • Take out appropriate travel insurance as soon as you book. While few insurers will cover changes to FCO advice, there are now comprehensive policies that will cover most other eventualities.

Travel Secretary Grant Shapps on quarantine:

Which tourist destinations can't I go to?

Currently, you cannot travel to the following destinations without quarantining for 14 days when you get back to the UK:

  • Austria

  • Andorra

  • Aruba

  • Belgium

  • The Bahamas

  • Croatia

  • France

  • Luxembourg

  • Malta

  • Monaco

  • The Netherlands

  • Spain

  • Trinidad and Tobago

  • Turks and Caicos

People who don't self-isolate when returning from these countries can be fined up to £1,000 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In Scotland, those breaking the rules can be fined up to £480.

Tourists visit Spain, which has been removed from the UK exemption list. Credit: AP

If I travel through a country not on the exemption list, will I have to self-isolate when I get back?

If you drive through a country on the list, you will need to self-isolate on return if new people get in the vehicle, or someone gets out and mixes with others before re-entering.

Asides from these instances, you will not need to self-isolate.

If you use public transport to travel through a country, you will need to self-isolate on return if new passengers enter the vehicle.

You will also need to self-isolate if you or other passengers get off, mix with others, then get on again. You will not need to quarantine on arrival to the UK otherwise.

Foreign visitors are largely barred from entering New Zealand.

What will happen with my travel insurance if my chosen destination is added to the list?

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said travel insurance will remain valid for people who are already in the quarantined countries until they return home.

Those who travel to the listed countries after the FCO advice has changed would “likely” find their insurance invalid, the ABI said.

Are there any countries that UK travellers are restricted from travelling to?

Yes. Although they are on the government's list of safe countries, travel from the UK is restricted in countries like:

  • New Zealand - almost all foreign travellers are barred.

  • Japan - anyone who has been in the UK in the previous 14 days is not allowed to enter.

  • Iceland - Adults flying into the country must either pay for a test or self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Visit the Foreign Office website to check whether your chosen destination has placed restrictions on UK travellers.

Can I get statutory sick pay if I have to quarantine when I get back?

Unless they have coronavirus symptoms, employees are not entitled to statutory sick pay if they are self-isolating after returning from holiday and cannot work from home.

The government is relying on the goodwill of employers.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said no worker following quarantine guidance should be penalised by employers adding: “We are changing the rules – the law is changed in relation to holidaymakers and travellers – and of course we expect employers show those employees who will have to quarantine because of the law the flexibility they need".