May 17th is a date that has been long-awaited in the UK ever since it was first revealed that international travel could resume from this date. However, being able to travel once more is not the only change coming into effect on the island, as a whole host of other rule relaxations will also come into effect too.
With the day finally upon us, here’s a look at what’s set to change in each of the parts of the UK, and the steps travelers must take in order to visit the country once more.
UK Rule Changes – Information For Travelers
Rules are set to change in the UK from today – and, depending on which nation you visit, the rule changes may differ from place to place.
As far as England is concerned, changes have been wide-ranging and are bound to show travelers a truer reflection of the England of old – or, at least, of England before the pandemic happened. Rule changes in England include:
- Groups of up to six people (or two households) can meet indoors, including overnight visits
- Groups of up to thirty people may meet outdoors once more, and up to 30 people can attend weddings, receptions, wakes and other significant life events
- The government has given the green light for social distancing to be eased, meaning people may hug again
There are also several changes occurring in the hospitality industry, a sector that has struggled throughout the duration of the pandemic. Changes include:
- Pubs and restaurants can welcome guests and let groups of up to six people share a table indoors
- People may order alcoholic beverages without the need to purchase a “substantial meal” alongside it
- Cinemas and theatres may reopen once more
- Hotels and B&Bs are allowed to re-open
Other nations in the UK, such as Wales and Scotland, have their own rule changes as a result of the devolved power system in the UK, with Scotland instead opting for a tiered approach to reopening like the UK once had. Wales’ changes to their restrictions largely align with England’s changes.
Changes To Travel – Information for Travelers
May 17th also marks the first time in months that British travelers are legally allowed to leave the country. From today, the UK’s traffic light system comes into effect, and British travelers are permitted to visit “green” countries without having to quarantine or isolate upon their return.
Only a handful of countries made it onto the UK’s green list. The countries that did are:
- New Zealand
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island
Other countries that did not make the cut will be sorted into “amber” and “red” countries. Travelers arriving from “amber” countries must quarantine for 10 days and take a pre-departure test, as well as a PCR test on day 2 and day 8, with the option for Test to Release on day 5 to end self-isolation early. People coming from “red” countries must have a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, a pre-departure test and further testing on days 2 and 8 of their quarantine.
At present, both the United States and Canada find themselves on the “amber” list, meaning that whilst travelers from these countries do get to skip the pricey hotel quarantine stays, they must still self-isolate when arriving in the country. A comprehensive guide to the traffic light system can be found here.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories