When and Where Can Brits Travel This Summer?

Anyone on mainland UK can now visit Scotland, including the stunning Glen Affric, not far from Loch Ness in the Highlands
Anyone on mainland UK can now visit Scotland, including the stunning Glen Affric, not far from Loch Ness in the Highlands | © Julian Elliott Photography / Getty Images
Photo of Josephine Platt
Global Travel Writer27 August 2020

Travel restrictions are changing for Brits. However, in the United Kingdom – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – each has a different set of guidelines for domestic and international travel. Culture Trip rounds up the facts.

The language and legislation surrounding the topic of travel in the UK is nothing if not convoluted. “Can we go on holiday this summer?” is met with quarantine- and Covid-19-free travel bubbles, air bridges between countries and so on. And each country within the union has separate guidelines and legislation. So what travel is possible?

I live in England, where can I travel within the country?

On 4 July, restrictions were eased to allow domestic travel across England. There is no limitation on how far you can go, and all accommodation options except hostels are open for business so you can stay overnight. This includes hotels, self-catering apartments, campsites and caravan parks, all of which operate under the Government’s 1m (3.3ft) social-distancing rule. Spa facilities remain closed in hotels until further notice.

Outdoor lovers can enjoy experiences up and down England, such as hiking through the New Forest, camping in Cornwall or cycling through Brighton.

Meanwhile, 4 July also saw pubs, restaurants and cinemas welcomed back customers – with pubs operating table service only. The same goes for cultural venues such as galleries and museums and attractions. These include Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Alton Towers, but you’ll need to book tickets for both in advance.

Brits are also be able to cross borders from England into Scotland and Wales without the need to quarantine.

St Ives, in Cornwall, is welcoming back tourists | | © Rob Maynard / Getty Images

What about international travel from England?

International travel is permitted from England to countries with open borders, and, if you have visited a “low-risk” country, from 10 July onwards you are not required to self-quarantine upon return.

On 4 July, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office placed more than 50 countries in this bracket, including popular summer destinations in Europe, the Americas and Asia.

On 10 July, Serbia was removed from the list due to the assessment of Covid-19 risk there. On 25 July, Spain was removed from the quarantine exemption list, meaning UK holidaymakers must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return. On 6 August, Andorra, Belgium and the Bahamas were removed from the list. On 13 August, the Netherlands, Aruba, Malta, the Turks and Caicos Islands, France and Monaco were also removed.

Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago were removed from the list on Saturday 22 August, with tourists returning from these destinations obliged to quarantine for 14 days.

Elsewhere, from 4am on Saturday 29 August, Switzerland, Jamaica and Czech Republic will be removed from the list. Anyone travelling from these destinations will be required to self-isolate for two weeks.

Destinations including the United States, which have reported new spikes in cases, require Brits to self-quarantine on return. This is a two-week mandatory quarantine, with a fine of £1,000 in place for breaches.

Old tram in Praca da Figueira, Lisbon | | © Michele Falzone / Getty Images

I live in Northern Ireland, where can I travel within the country?

Hotels and bars welcomed back visitors on 3 July as public spaces including restaurants, pubs, cinemas and theatres resumed business. There are no driving restrictions on the island of Ireland now, meaning residents can travel to the Republic of Ireland.

Since 26 June, caravan parks, camping sites and self-catering accommodation have been open, permitting tourists to enjoy outdoor escapes.

What about international travel from Northern Ireland?

International flights are leaving Belfast International Airport via EasyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air.

On return, self-isolation is mandatory for a period of 14 days, with a fine for £1,000 if it’s breached. However, if you are travelling back from England or the Republic of Ireland, you are exempt.

Faro Old Town – the Portuguese are keen to welcome Brits back | | © mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

I live in Wales, where can I travel within the country?

Wales has lifted its “stay local” restrictions, which had been in place since March and Welsh residents can travel without restrictions. However, First Minister Mark Drakeford has encouraged people to think “carefully about where we go and why”.

Authorities are also advising the public to find alternative day trips if beauty spots are too busy. “Please remember that if it feels too crowded, it is too crowded and have a plan B ready for your visit,” said a spokeswoman for the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.

Since 11 July, hotels, B&Bs and hostels offering ensuite rooms and room service have been allowed to reopen. This relaxation extends to glamping accommodation and boats that have separate kitchens and bathrooms.

Restaurants and pubs reopened outdoors from 13 July.

What about international travel from Wales?

On 9 July, the Welsh Government has amended its Covid-19 regulations to allow people to travel to dozens of countries and overseas territories without having to quarantine upon their return. The Welsh Government list mirrors that of the UK Government.

I live in Scotland, where can I travel?

The 5mi (8km) advisory limit on travelling has been lifted for Scottish residents. This means people in Scotland can enjoy domestic travel, such as hiking in the Cairngorms mountain range and camping in the Highlands.

Scots started enjoying local attractions such as zoos and outdoor sports courts from 29 June, while beer gardens reopened on 6 July. Since 10 July, people have been allowed to meet up with two other households indoors, and as of 15 July, further openings include hotels, along with indoor pubs and restaurants.

Wild camping on the Knoydart peninsula, Scotland | | © Peter Mulligan / Getty Images

What about international travel from Scotland?

Scottish travellers from an additional five countries will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival, the Scottish Government has announced.

Since 28 July, passengers from Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia and St Vincent and the Grenadines have bee exempt from quarantine rules.

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