Last updated 02 August 2021

To say that planning international travel is not entirely straightforward at the moment is rather an understatement.

We realise that many of our guests are desperate to get back to London but with the situation constantly evolving it can be difficult to know how to begin arranging a trip.

Here we have pulled together the latest guidance regarding travel into the UK and our national roadmap out of lockdown, to give you essential information to help organise a visit over the next few months. We’ll be updating this regularly to reflect the current situation, so check back soon.

There’s quite a lot of info here, so if you just want a summary of the key points, jump to the bottom.

I want to travel to London – what’s the current situation?

OK, take a deep breath and pay attention, this is going to get complicated…

The UK government is re-opening international travel, with a ‘traffic light’ system currently in place with green, amber and red-listed countries – each colour signifying different rules around testing and quarantining depending on where travellers have been in the 10 days before they arrive

Travellers visiting or returning from countries on the green list do not need to quarantine on entering the UK, providing you take a pre-departure test up to 72 hours before travelling and a second (PCR) test on or before the second day after your arrival in England. You can see all the latest rules here.

(Note that different rules may apply for those arriving in WalesScotland, and Northern Ireland).

If you’re planning a trip from somewhere on the amber list, you’ll need to take a pre-departure test and then you must quarantine in the place you’re staying for 10 days because of coronavirus restrictions. Two PCR tests are required, on days two and eight of quarantine (which can be reduced to five days by paying for the cost of an extra test on that day under the ‘test to release scheme’).

However, a very significant development has come into play from 02 August – passengers arriving from amber list countries who have been fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine in the USA or Europe will not have to quarantine when entering England, although you will still have to follow the pre- and post-departure testing requirements as per green list arrivals.

The system for red-list arrivals is essentially the same as for amber, however on arrival you must isolate in an approved quarantine hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1,750 per person, with the costs of the PCR tests required on days two and eight included in the package (which must be pre-booked before travelling). There are currently around 45 red list countries in total, including Brazil, South Africa and India.

In short, this means that if you want to visit London for a few days of holiday or business, it is only practical to do so from a green list country, or from an amber list country provided you have had two doses of an officially recognised vaccine, otherwise you will need to quarantine for up to 10 days on arrival (and possibly again when you get home!). You can see the full list of green, amber and red countries with the relevant rules here.

Is the green / amber list going to be expanded soon?

The travel lists are currently being reviewed every three weeks, and the expectation is that further countries will gradually be added to the green and amber lists.

Great! So I can travel to London freely if my country is included on the green or amber list?

Yes – provided that:

  1. You follow the pre- and post-arrival testing regime
  2. If you’re arriving from an amber list country such as the US, France or Italy you can demonstrate that you have been double-vaccinated with an approved vaccine in Europe or the US; and
  3. You follow your domestic inbound rules on returning home (bear in mind, if your country is on the UK’s green list, it doesn’t necessarily mean the travel rules are reciprocal)

But will anything be open when I get to London?

Absolutely! The good news is that after a lengthy winter lockdown we are in the latter stages of releasing all Covid safety measures and life in London and the wider UK is starting to look pretty normal, although some sensible Covid precautions remain in place, such as social distancing and mask wearing in some public places, and testing requirements to attend certain large-scale events.

Sounds great! But I’m still not too keen on getting on a packed tube train or bus… 

Understandable. That’s why you should stay with us at the Lime Tree Hotel! As well as being situated in one of the most beautiful and charming areas of London, with numerous independent eateries, coffee shops, pubs, boutiques and art galleries lining the streets just a stone’s throw from our door, you can reach many of the city’s top attractions and historic sites easily on foot. No need to go near public transport, or even a taxi for that matter.

Check out our recent blog on this very topic here.

Can you summarise all that for me please?

Certainly. Here are the essential points:

Stay happy and check back soon for the latest information.