What does the amber list mean? Travel rules for amber countries explained as Portugal removed from green list

Several popular European holiday destinations, including Spain and Greece, are currently on the amber list

Changes to the traffic light system for travel were announced by the UK government on Thursday (3 June) afternoon, which saw no new countries added to the green list.

Popular summer hotspots, including the Spanish and Greek islands, and Malta, had hoped to be awarded green status after the update, but the list remains unchanged.

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Portugal, including Madeira and the Azores, was moved from the green list to the amber list following increasing concern over the spread of Covid-19 variants, including a mutation of the Delta variant.

Government advice recommends against travel to amber list countries (Photo: Getty Images)
Government advice recommends against travel to amber list countries (Photo: Getty Images)

The country has seen an almost doubling in the Covid-19 test positivity rate since the first review of the travel traffic light system, far exceeding the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated national positivity rate in the UK.

But what are the rules for amber countries? Here’s what you need to know.

Can I travel to amber countries?

While it is no longer illegal to travel abroad for holidays, government guidance advises against travel to both amber and red listed countries for holidays or leisure purposes, with holidaymakers instead urged to only visit destinations on the green list.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stressed that countries on the amber list are “not somewhere where you should be going on holiday”, with these destinations requiring stricter quarantine measures on their return.

If you do choose to travel to an amber destination for your holiday, you will be going against government advice and additional Covid checks will be required.

Anyone who has visited or transited through an amber country will have to:

- fill out a passenger locator form

- provide a valid notification of a negative Covid test prior to travel

- quarantine at home for 10 days on their return

- take a PCR test on day two and day eight of their return

Travellers in England will be given the option of a “test to release” on day five to end their self-isolation period early.

If the result from your test is inconclusive you must continue to quarantine, or you can choose to take another privately provided test to find out if you can stop self-isolation early.

Anyone who fails to quarantine for the required period faces a fine of up to £1,000 for the first time in England, and up to £10,000 for further breaches.

The test to release scheme is not available to those travelling to Scotland.

Will travel to amber list countries be covered by insurance?

As the The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is currently advising against travel to amber listed countries, which include popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Greece, France and Italy, it is likely that travellers will not be able to get adequate insurance to cover their trip.

Hannah Isitt, Travel insurance expert at GoCompare, told NationalWorld: “There is no travel insurance product that covers against the traffic light system, only a change in the FCDO advice.

"The traffic light system does not impact the insured travel policy – the coverage is dependent on the FCDO advice. One example at the moment is Israel – which is on the green list - but no cover as FCDO advise against all travel, whereas Rhodes, which is amber, is covered as FCDO isn’t advising against travel.

“If the policy holder is on their trip when there is a change in traffic light, from green to amber, and if the insured person stays on the trip they will continue to get the same cover as when they travelled.

"Insurers will not cover the costs for testing, unless it’s part of a medical claims, or quarantine costs.”

Helen Chambers, Travel Insurance Expert at MoneySuperMarket, advised that the traffic light list should not impact travellers’ insurance, although there is a risk that any changes that are made to the list could result in holidays being cancelled. In the event a trip is cancelled, insurers will not cover this cost.

Ms Chambers told NationalWorld: “If your country is on the amber list but the FCDO say that it is safe to travel then you are covered from an insurance perspective.

"However, it’s worth keeping in mind that if the country you are travelling to goes from the green list to an amber or red list and you decide not to travel, your insurer will not cover the cancellation of your holiday.

"Some package tour operators have advised that they will be continuing to operate holidays to countries that are classed as ‘amber’. This is on the provision that the FCDO does not advise against ‘all but essential’ travel to these areas.

"We recommend that consumers book using tour operators to give them more confidence. This is also essential if you want to be covered by ATOL or ABTA schemes. In doing so, this will give consumers more financial protection and flexibility, should anything change as a result of the pandemic.

"It is necessary to follow the FCDO’s travel guidance as you’ll find that most policies will not cover you if you ignore their advice, travel and then try to submit a claim later on – it will invalidate your claim.’

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