Will the Common Travel Area come to the rescue for summer holidays?

British hopes for a summer holiday abroad have been dealt another blow by the news that legislation is being brought in banning travel until June 30. 

Under draft laws published earlier this week, which will face a vote today (March 25), leaving the UK without a “reasonable excuse” (such as work, or education) will be illegal until June 30. Anyone who travels to a port or airport with the aim of leaving the country could face fines of up to £5,000. 

Government officials have clarified that the travel ban extension is purely for legislative convenience, and does not have any bearing on whether international travel will resume on May 17. Despite this, the news will no doubt cause consternation among those who are keen on getting out of the UK this summer – a domestic break may be heaven for some, but many are still craving a proper escape. 

Luckily, there may be an unlikely rescuer for those looking askance at Cornwall or the Lake District; namely, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, and Ireland. These beautiful destinations reside within the Common Travel Area (CTA), which is exempt from the travel ban. 

With vaccination efforts in full swing, some of these islands are gearing up to relax Covid restrictions this summer for their neighbours – and the UK may drop testing and quarantine requirements for those returning from the isles, due to their privileged CTA status (and in many cases, the sheer lack of Covid cases present). 

Below, we outline the rules for each area, and when they are likely to reopen to UK tourists. 

Jersey

For Britons keen on going (technically) abroad for a holiday, there’s good news in the form of Jersey. The Channel Island is set to ease its rules on quarantine for UK travellers from late April with a new traffic light system for visitors – great news, given it’s sunniest spot in the British Isles.

Currently, anyone that arrives in Jersey needs to quarantine for 10 days and show proof of a negative Covid test result at the end of their self-isolation. When the island reopens travel links to and from the UK on April 26, however, the rules on isolation will depend on the area you have travelled from. 

Regions will be split into green, amber and red zones, with quarantine varying depending on zone. Testing will remain in place however – visitors will still need to take a Covid test on arrival, as well as days five and ten of their stay – though tests are, thankfully, provided free of charge. All passengers arriving in Jersey must also still complete a Safer Travel registration 48 hours prior to arrival. 

The zones

  • Green: You will need to isolate while waiting for the result of your Covid test on arrival in Jersey. This is thankfully short, however, taking up to 12 hours. 
  • Amber: You will need to isolate for the first five days of your trip. A negative test result on day five will release you from quarantine.
  • Red: You will need to isolate for 10 days, and take a test on the final day in order to be released.

“After more than five months, we can’t wait to welcome visitors once again to Jersey from the UK and the Crown Dependencies,” said Amanda Burns, Chief Executive of Visit Jersey. “As part of the British Isles, our Government will reintroduce our Safer Travel Policy from April 26 that is both safe for everyone while also optimising the traveller experience.

“Now more than ever, we want to open our doors to those looking for a safe, peaceful, stress-free getaway while enjoying our uninterrupted coastal paths, unique hospitality and big spirit.”

Restaurants and hotels reopened on the island last month, with social distancing and group limits in place. As the island is part of the CTA, travellers do not need to complete the UK Government Travel Declaration Form if visiting.

Guernsey

The other major Channel Island, Guernsey has joined Jersey in its plans to welcome visitors from the UK this summer.

In plans outlined by the Guernsey government, a return to unrestricted travel to and from the island is likely to be possible by early July, as long as there is good progress in the roll-out of its vaccine programme.

Though July seems a while off, Guernsey also intends to resume its categorisation of countries and regions at the end of April, to allow lighter travel restrictions for people arriving from places with a low prevalence of the virus – this is likely to include the UK, given the success of the vaccine program.

The government is keen to emphasise these dates are changeable. “There is also work still to be to be done on the detail around what exactly travel will look like from July onwards, and to what extent arrivals will be required to test or carry some form of ‘vaccination passport,” read a statement. 

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