UK green list: countries where UAE travellers can spend 11 days to avoid hotel quarantine

Spain’s Balearic Islands, Malta and some Caribbean destinations are welcoming holidaymakers and will enable tourists to skip isolation on travelling onwards to England

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As of 4am on Wednesday, the latest additions to the UK green list are in effect.

The list, containing territories from which people can travel to the UK with no need for quarantine, was updated with several new destinations on June 24.

Malta, Spain’s Balearic Islands and countries in the Caribbean were among the additions of places that are also open to travellers from the UAE, which remains on the UK red list.

Having grown from 12 to a total of 27 places, all of the destinations included on the UK green list and green watchlist can be visited without quarantine upon arrival in the UK, so long as they are accepting travellers.

The expanded tally builds on the original green list, which was criticised for being too restrictive as only a few destinations on it were welcoming tourists or were accessible for holidays.

Of the new entries, all but one – Malta – have been added to the green watchlist, rather than the green list. This means they are at risk of being given amber status without any prior notice.

Some of the destinations now on the list offer new options for UAE residents hoping to travel to the UK via a green list country in order to avoid mandatory home or hotel isolation.

All the places on the UK green list and green watchlist

  • Anguilla
  • Antarctica
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Balearic Islands
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • British Indian Ocean Territory
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Brunei
  • Cayman Islands
  • Dominica
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Grenada
  • Iceland
  • Israel and Jerusalem
  • Madeira
  • Malta
  • Montserrat
  • New Zealand
  • Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
  • Singapore
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
  • Turks and Caicos islands

UK green list changes offer new options for UAE expats

UK green list changes offer new options for UAE expats

Which new green list countries are welcoming UAE travellers?

Of the 27 destinations on the green list and green watchlist, a handful are welcoming visitors from the UAE, who must spend 11 days in a one of these listed countries to avoid mandatory hotel quarantine in the UK.

Portugal’s Madeira, a popular choice in Europe for many holidaymakers, remains closed to UAE tourists at this time, with no direct flights and visitors only allowed to transit through the country for essential travel purposes.

Here’s a guide to the countries that could be viable for UAE holidaymakers looking to wait out 11 days before travelling to the UK.

Antigua and Barbuda: green watchlist

Who can travel there? The Caribbean destination of Antigua and Barbuda has reopened to tourists who provide a negative Covid-19 test result taken within seven days of travelling. Children under 12 are exempt.

All travellers should expect to be screened and temperature checked on arrival, with additional PCR tests conducted where deemed necessary at a cost of $100. Everyone arriving in Antigua must also complete a Health Declaration form; you can find more details here.

Travellers do not need to quarantine on arrival, but can only book to stay in approved accommodation; a list of certified stays is available here. There’s also an island-wide curfew from 11pm to 5am that tourists must respect. Travellers cannot fly to the country if they have been in Brazil, India or South Africa in the past 14 days.

How do I get there and away? This destination requires a bit of a time and investment to reach, but waiting on the other side of a lengthy journey are pink sandy shorelines surrounded by Caribbean waters.

Options include flying from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to New York City's JFK airport, with both Emirates and Etihad offering this route. From there, it’s a four-hour flight with JetBlue to St John's, the main hub on the islands. The journey time clocks in at more than 30 hours, but you could break this up with a stop in the Big Apple. Fares with Etihad work out cheapest for most dates, with prices starting at around Dh3,500 ($953) one-way.

Getting from Antigua to the UK is simple. There are direct flights from St John's with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, and one-way fares for the eight-hour flights cost upwards of Dh1,000.

Why go? Lying where the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea meet, Antigua and Barbuda are known for their reef-lined beaches, rainforests and luxury resorts.

As well as the two namesake islands, the destination is home to several smaller isles including Prickly Pear, Great Bird and Redonda, well worth exploring.

In Antigua’s capital of St John's, there’s a colonial past to discover in the English Harbour and via historical forts. On the south-eastern coast, visit the pristine sands of Princess Diana Beach, renamed in 2012 after the late royal, who loved vacationing there.

Elsewhere, meander in rainforests filled with mango and banana trees, lounge in one of several luxury resorts or go into the blue, with caves, reefs and sunken shipwrecks to explore.

Balearic Islands: green watchlist

Who can travel there? Spain’s Balearic Islands, which include Majorca and Ibiza, have been added to the green watchlist from Wednesday.

Spain is welcoming vaccinated travellers, including those from the UAE, and the country is recognising all vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or listed for emergency use by WHO. So far, the EMA has approved four vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech; Moderna; Oxford-AstraZeneca; and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen. The same jabs are authorised for emergency use by the WHO, as is China's Sinopharm.

How do I get there and away? From the UAE, you can fly direct to Barcelona or Madrid. Emirates flies to Barcelona from Dubai four times a week and to Madrid five times a week.

From Abu Dhabi, Etihad operates flights to both Spanish cities, with fares starting from about Dh2,700. Several airlines offer flights from the mainland to the Balearics.

If you’re planning on flying to the UK after your 11 days in the Balearics, remember that you must fly direct, without transiting in mainland Spain. Try Jet2, British Airways, Ryanair or easyJet, with low-cost fares available.

Why go? Fantastic summertime temperatures, ocean-blue vistas and beautiful beaches await in Spain’s Balearic Islands.

Try party capital Ibiza without the crowds, and be sure to visit the island’s quieter side for sunset vistas or wellness-centric stays.

The largest of the islands is Majorca and this Spanish gem has something for everyone, starting with the capital of Palma with its sunset-toned historical buildings and thriving culinary scene. Away from the city, expect rolling countryside, quaint villages and market towns.

Menorca is the Balearic’s mellow option that’s further from the tourist trail. The island offers sunshine-filled days, hiking trails, untouched beaches and more. Tiny Formentera is only 20 kilometres long and home to several protected natural landscapes, as well as some of the best beaches in Europe.

Barbados: green watchlist

Who can travel there? Barbados has reopened to tourists with eased restrictions for travellers if they are vaccinated.

All travellers must show a negative Covid-19 PCR test result to enter the country; this must have been taken no more than three days prior to arrival. Barbados is recognising Sinopharm as an approved vaccine.

Immunised travellers need only self-isolate in their accommodation until the results of an on-arrival PCR test are returned, which typically takes one to two days.

If the results are negative, tourists are then free to explore the island as long as they follow all local restrictions.

How do I get there and away? If you don’t mind a lengthy trip, Barbados could be a good option for a tropical holiday before heading to the UK.

Emirates and JetBlue can get you from Dubai to Bridgetown with fares from under Dh6,000. The downside is you’re looking at a journey time of more than 30 hours and a stop in New York.

From Barbados, fly direct to London via Virgin Atlantic with a journey time of around eight hours.

Why go? Envy-inducing beaches and gleaming oceans, Barbados is an island that has it all. From the Unesco World Heritage-listed capital of Bridgetown to the country’s lush gardens and friendly locals, it is a Caribbean dream that also comes with summertime temperatures averaging around a very pleasant 30°C.

For those looking for activities away from the pristine shorelines or Barbados’ famed surf sports, try an underwater adventure onboard the Atlantis Submarine in St Michael, or visit St Joseph’s Flower Forest.

The Caribbean Wax Museum will introduce visitors to renowned Caribbean Basin characters to help you connect with the local culture and you can also delve into history at Farley, designated a national park by the Barbadian government.

Bermuda: green watchlist

Who can go there? Bermuda is open for tourism, with no quarantine if you’re vaccinated and have a valid negative PCR test.

Immunised tourists without a Covid-19 test result are also welcome but will have to quarantine for four days. This will include UAE residents vaccinated with Sinopharm, as Bermuda does not recognise the Chinese vaccine.

All tourists aged 2 years and above will need to take PCR tests on days four, eight and 14 while in Bermuda.

How do I get there and away? While it’s not the easiest of journeys from the UAE to Bermuda, it is doable.

Fly with Emirates and JetBlue to Hamilton via Boston, with one-way fares from Dh2,752 and a journey time of over 30 hours.

From Bermuda, you can fly to London direct with Virgin Atlantic or British Airways.

Why go? With pink sandy beaches, outdoor adventures and lush greenery surrounded by the Sargasso Sea, Bermuda is postcard perfect.

A fusion of cultures with British, North American, West Indian, African and Portuguese influences, there is plenty of history to learn about on this tiny island. It’s also one of the world’s best diving destinations for those who prefer underwater exploration.

British Virgin Islands: green watchlist

Who can go there? The British Virgin Islands have reopened to tourists without quarantine, so long as visitors can show proof of Covid-19 vaccination. Children under 5 are exempt.

The British Virgin Islands only recognises Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines at this time, so travellers from the UAE who are immunised with Sinopharm will have to quarantine on arrival.

All travellers will have to apply for a certificate of entry and undergo another PCR test on arrival at the airport. If results are negative, vaccinated travellers are free to explore.

Unvaccinated travellers or those without an approved vaccine will need to quarantine at approved accommodation until day four, when a second PCR test is required. If this is negative, they are also free to explore the islands.

How do I get there and away? From Dubai, it is a little bit of a mission, but if you’re willing to accept a journey of more than 30 hours and a couple of stopovers, it is feasible.

Fly to New York City via Etihad or Emirates from the UAE, and then take a four-hour flight down to Puerto Rico. From there, it’s a short flight to Beef Island in the British Virgin Islands. Despite the lengthy journey, fares start from a very reasonable Dh3,536.

There are no direct flights to the UK from the British Virgin Islands, but interCaribbean Airways can fly you to green-Listed Anguilla, which won't cause you any additional quarantine time back in the UK. From there, fly direct to London with British Airways – fares start at Dh2,100.

Why go? A favourite with celebrities who roll in on their luxury yachts, the British Virgin Islands were formerly a pirate haven and the 50-plus isles still brim with hidden coves, barefoot beaches and undeveloped landscapes.

The islands have hosted Beyonce, Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake and Paul McCartney.

On the main island of Tortola, travellers can find lush green mountains, powder-white sandy beaches and yacht-filled harbours with no shortage of luxury resorts and private villas in which to stay.

On Virgin Gorda, there are quiet coves and plenty of natural beauty while Anegada is the only coral island in this volcanic chain. Tiny Jost Van Dyke offers rugged scenery and sugar mill ruins, as well as amazing points for spotting whales and dolphins in the surrounding waters.

Malta: green list

Who can go there? Malta has reopened to tourists with a traffic-light system in place. It’s also the only new destination on the UK green list, rather than green watchlist, meaning that a few days notice will be given if the country is set to change status.

The UAE is dubbed amber by Maltese authorities, meaning that travellers can visit so long as they have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken no more than 72 hours before travel. Vaccinated travellers are exempt from this test but Malta is only recognising the Maltese vaccination certificate at this time, although this is set to change.

All travellers also need to complete a public health passenger locator form before flying to Malta.

How do I get there and away? You can book flights with Emirates to Malta, via Larnaca. It’s an eight-hour trip to get there with fares starting from around Dh1,700.

From Malta, you can fly direct with British Airways or easyJet to London. Ryanair and Jet 2 also fly to other destinations in the UK.

Why go? Known for its fascinating history, the tiny archipelago nation is also a favourite with sun-seekers and scuba divers. Made up of five islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino plus two uninhabited islets in the Mediterranean Sea – Malta lies halfway between Gibraltar and Egypt’s Alexandria, and 95km off the coast of Italy’s Sicily.

At just 27-km long and less than 15-km wide, the main island of Malta is easy to navigate and, with 11 days at your disposal, you’ll have plenty of time to see all of the highlights.

From archaeological sites, museums and cultural monuments to boutique hotels, bustling markets and an endless seaside oasis with more than 120 diving locations, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained.

Don’t miss a trip to Gozo, it's about 15 minutes from the mainland by boat and arguably one of Malta’s most scenic locations. Comino is also worth a visit for untouched nature and beautiful hiking trails.

Updated: July 01, 2021, 10:41 AM