There are so many wonderful reasons why we love to travel. To explore, to relax, to learn, to escape from reality, to meet new cultures or visit loved ones.

It's over a year and a half since the coronavirus pandemic began and on-off travel restrictions have certainly put a halt on our freedom to travel.

The latest announcement from the Government to ease the current rules brings some much awaited positive news, and with the changes coming into effect on 4 October we thought it would be helpful to share just what this means for international travel.

Will I still need a Covid test to go on holiday?

The UK government announced on 17 September that it would be replacing its traffic light system for foreign travel with a two-tier system and it's fair to say the new rules will make it simpler and cheaper for fully vaccinated passengers.

From 4 October, fully vaccinated travellers returning to England from non red-list countries will no longer have to take a PCR test before coming home. At first, a PCR test will still be required two days after arrival. However, the plans due to take effect late October will see this replaced with a cheaper and simpler lateral flow test.

If you're not fully vaccinated then you'll still need a pre-departure test and a PCR test on days two and eight after you return. You must also self isolate for 10 days. However, test to release, where you can choose to pay for a private test on day 5 and with a negative result end your quarantine, will remain an option.

The advice to not visit red-list countries remains in place, and if you do choose to visit one of these destinations you'll need to adhere to some strict rules including having to pay for a quarantined hotel on arrival.

The two-tier system explained

A red list of destinations, which will continue to be reviewed every few weeks will remain, but the amber and green lists will merge to create a 'rest of the world' category for low-risk destinations. 

Several countries have recently been removed from the red list including Turkey, Egypt and the Maldives but many countries continue to remain as high-risk destinations when it comes to Covid-19. You can keep up-to-date with the destinations that are on each list by visiting the government website.

Before booking any holiday you should also check the government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice. Whilst the ease of restrictions has been put in place to simplify travel, it's important to check the latest FCDO advice as they advise on whether holiday travel to a country is not only safe based on the risk of Covid, but includes the risk of a wider range of factors – such as civil unrest and terrorism.  If you travel to a country against government advice, this could invalidate any travel insurance you have in place.

Adjusting to the new reality

Travel insurers, like everyone else, have had to adjust to the new reality, and it's likely that wanting sufficient travel insurance in place is more important than ever. At Saga, we've adapted our cover in a number of ways to support customers.

Back in June 2020 we introduced cover for emergency medical expenses and repatriation cover to return you back home following falling ill with covid-19 on your trip. This covers you for up to £10,000,000 abroad and up to £2,000,000 for trips within the UK.

We also introduced cancellation cover in the event that you, or anyone you are travelling with or staying with receives, in writing, a positive test result for coronavirus within 14 days of your trip commencing.

And most recently, if you travel to a destination where the FCDO has advised against all but essential travel, we will still provide cover under the policy for a non-essential trip but will simply exclude cover for the reason the FCDO advice is in place. You will continue to have full policy coverage in place if you travel for essential reasons - see our list of what is deemed essential.

So whether it’s a holiday abroad or in the UK that you’re looking forward to, we’ve got you covered.

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