UK red list: five best countries for an 11-day stopover before flying to the UK

Here are a few alternatives to 10 days quarantine in a UK hotel

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Read also: Summer travel 2021 - our holiday checklist for flying in and out of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and UAE

Direct travel from the UAE to the UK without quarantine on arrival is still off the cards this summer, after the release of the UK government's travel guidelines on June 3.

The UAE remains on the UK's "red list", with Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Trinidad & Tobago all added.

Red-list travellers to the UK are required to enter quarantine at a government-approved hotel, and must have two negative Covid-19 tests before being allowed to leave, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against the disease or not.

The cost is £1,750 ($2,470) for one adult and £325 for a child, aged from 5 to 11.

For many who were determined to travel to the UK for a long-awaited trip to see family and friends this summer, the prospect of 10 days in one room is unpalatable, and the cost prohibitive.

Instead most have considered travelling from the UAE to a green-list country to see out their quarantine days in freedom, before flying to the UK.

However, the green list for quarantine-free travel is shrinking. Portugal will move from green to amber on June 8 at 4am, owing to an increase in cases in the country.

No countries were added to the green list at the last review.

From June 8, quarantine-free travel is now only allowed from Australia, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

Many of those are off the cards, because they are closed to external visitors. So where are the five best countries for an 11-day stopover before flying to the UK?

Iceland

Iceland is on the UK's green list. Unsplash

All travellers – regardless of origin – are welcome to visit the country if they can show either a certificate of full vaccination against Covid-19, or a certificate of previous infection.

For those who have not been vaccinated or can not prove previous infection, there are still significant restrictions on non-essential travel from outside the EU or European Economic Area.

The Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Sinopharm vaccines are all accepted by Iceland.

Passengers do not need to have a PCR test to board a flight to Iceland, but they are required to undergo one Covid-19 test when they arrive.

The test is free of charge, and you must wait for the result at your accommodation (the result is usually received within five to six hours, but may take up to 24 hours). You do not need to quarantine or take a second test.

After 10 days in Iceland, travellers can fly to England without the need to quarantine.

However, before you travel to England you must take a PCR test, complete a passenger locator form and book and pay for a day two Covid-19 test to be taken after arrival.

Gibraltar

Gibraltar at the tip of southern Spain and vaccinated travellers from the UAE are not required to isolate on arrival. Courtesy: Visit Gibraltar

Like the UK, Gibraltar has a traffic light system for passengers from different countries. The UAE remains on its red list, but vaccinated visitors are no longer required to isolate on arrival.

However, as all flights into Gibraltar originate in the UK, you may need to fly to Spain and cross the border by land.

A person is deemed to be fully vaccinated when they have received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Astrazeneca shots and two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The Sinopharm shot has not yet been approved by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, so if you have had that vaccine you will not be considered vaccinated in Gibraltar.

If you have not been inoculated, you are required to isolate for 10 days, and if you are staying in a hotel you must remain in your room and not use any of the public areas, nor use public transport apart from official taxis from the airport.

All passengers from the UAE must have a PCR test on the day of their arrival, and a second one on day five for vaccinated people, and day 10 for the unvaccinated.

These need to be booked with a private clinic in Gibraltar and paid for online before you arrive.

You must also report the fact you have come from a country on the red list at the border and present your valid vaccination certificate.

After 10 days in Gibraltar, travellers can fly to England without fear of quarantine.

Before travelling to England, all passengers must take a PCR test, complete a passenger locator form and book and pay for a day two Covid-19 test to be taken after arrival.

Italy

Tourists take selfie pictures on the Ponte dell'Accademia bridge over the grand canal in Venice on June 03, 2021. / AFP / ANDREA PATTARO

As of Tuesday, June 1, passengers can travel between UAE and Italy as long as they are fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19, or have obtained a negative result from a PCR no more than 48 hours before travel.

All passengers must also take a rapid antigen swab test when they land, which must be booked online before they arrive.

They must also fill in a digital passenger locator form. Infants up to the age of 2 are exempt from Covid‑19 testing requirements.

Italy is on the UK's amber list, so travellers can fly directly to England, but there are restrictions that include entering quarantine for at least five days.

Before you leave an amber-list country, you need to take a Covid-19 test, complete a passenger locator form, and book and pay for day two and day eight Covid-19 travel tests to be taken after arrival in England.

On arrival in England you must self-isolate in the place you are staying for 10 days, unless you choose to end quarantine early by paying for another private Covid-19 test on day five through the test to release initiative.

Covid-19 tests in the UK are expensive, costing between £60 and £260 each.

Greece

A travel corridor between the UAE and Greece opened for fully vaccinated passengers from May 18.

Under the agreement, passengers holding vaccination certificates can travel between the UAE and Greece without taking a PCR test or having to quarantine on arrival.

If you have not been vaccinated you can still travel to Greece without needing to quarantine, but you need to take a PCR test before departure.

Travellers must also fill out passenger locator form at least one day before their arrival in the country, and there is Covid-19 rapid testing at Greece's borders.

Greece is on the UK's amber list, so travellers can fly directly to England but must quarantine for 10 days, unless they opt for the test to release initiative, when they can pay to take an extra Covid-19 test on day five.

Before you leave an amber-list country, you need to take a Covid-19 test, complete a passenger locator form, and book and pay for day two and day eight Covid-19 travel tests to be taken after arrival in England.

Serbia

Another bike ride up Avala mountain.  Wonderful view.

A travel corridor between the UAE and Serbia opened for fully vaccinated passengers from May 15.

Under the agreement, passengers holding vaccination certificates issued by health authorities can travel between the countries without having to take a PCR test or enter quarantine on arrival.

If you have not been vaccinated you can still travel to Serbia without needing to enter quarantine, but you need to take a PCR test within 48 hours before your departure.

Serbia is on the UK's amber list, so travellers can fly directly to England, but there are restrictions, including entering quarantine.

Before you leave an amber-list country, you need to take a Covid-19 test, complete a passenger locator form, and book and pay for day two and day eight Covid-19 travel tests to be taken after arrival in England.

On arrival you must self-isolate in the place you are staying for 10 days, unless you choose to end quarantine early by paying for another private Covid-19 test on day five under test to release.

Other summer travel ideas - in pictures

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS
MORE FROM THE NATIONAL