Open for business? International air travel between the UK, EU, and USA

With all that has been happening in the world lately, it is safe to say that we have all been on a bumpy ride due to COVID-19, which at one point had caused the closure of most international travel. Although certain countries, namely the United Kingdom and the United States, are carefully opening up their travel border restrictions, a lot of countries are still in lock-down mode.

Travel to the UK – As of June 2021

The UK is now accepting all travelers and non-essential personnel since the 17th of May, however, this is heavily subjected to the traffic light color system very recently put in place. This breaks down as follows:

  1. Green list – You have traveled from a country that is deemed lower risk but you still need to take PCR 3 days before you arrive in the UK and within 2 days of arrival. You must also complete the passenger locator form. You must quarantine only if your test is positive, or if the NHS informs you that you have traveled with someone who has tested positive.
  1. Amber list – You have traveled to an Amber list country within 10 days of arrival in the UK. Similar to Green, you must take a PCR test 3 days before leaving and within 2 days of arrival, and complete a passenger locator form. However, in addition, you will be required to quarantine at home for 10 days regardless of the PCR result and will need to take an additional test within 8 days of arrival.

*USA is currently placed on the Amber list

  1. Red list – You have traveled to a Red list country within 10 days of arrival in England. These are countries with very high case and/or death rates. If you are not a UK national, you will not be allowed to enter the country. However, if you are a UK resident, then all the same rules as Amber apply – with the difference being you must quarantine in an NHS-appointed hotel rather than at home.

To see a full list of which countries are in either a green, amber or red status, visit:

The Indian Variant

An example of a country on the red list is India, which has seen a dramatically high number of cases and in part due to a new variant that is more infectious than the non-variant Covid 19. There are also reports of this new variant being in over forty other countries worldwide including the UK, where there has been an increase. That being said there are currently numerous variants out there, not just the Indian variant, which all behave differently but are generally more infectious. This is one of the many reasons that led to the UK putting this traffic light system in place in order to better monitor arriving passengers from overseas and attempt to mitigate the risk of further outbreaks.

Travel from the UK

If you plan to travel to the UK, and then move within the EU for business, then it may not be as easy as initially thought.

The United Kingdom is not the only country implementing a travel alert system, and neighboring countries are not being quite so loose with travelers coming from the UK. The limits on travel to the UK are in large part due to the increased cases of the India variant.

  • France recently advised that only essential personnel will be allowed to travel to France from the UK and will need to quarantine for 7 days after arrival.
  • Germany has implemented a similar tiered plan but with a higher number of quarantine days (14)
  • Austria is not accepting any flights from the UK.
  • The United States has issued a Level 3 warning, meaning any non-essential personnel should reconsider traveling to the UK

Travel to Ireland and then the UK?

  • The Republic of Ireland is taking a different approach, and planning to allow travel to the UK, EU, and the US starting in the middle of June. It will be a speedier process if you have been vaccinated as you will able to bypass quarantine altogether (but still need a PCR test).

It is important to see which countries act differently to the world slowly opening up in certain areas. A good example will be seeing how the United States handles the situation with the UK. After the US faced some of the highest numbers of cases since the Pandemic began, they are likely to be cautious. Although commercial flights still operate between the UK and the US, if the UK starts seeing a dramatic increase in cases flights could once again be suspended between the two nations.

What’s Next?

As it stands, the good news is that travel is increasing between certain countries, with many updating their entry requirements to be more flexible which is directly benefiting travel in the UK, EU, and USA. The UK Government has said it will review the list of green, amber and red lists every three weeks – which means it is due on June 7. On Wednesday, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that it would be delivered on or around this date.

Moving forward, clearer and less stringent entry requirements for these regions will develop, but using the Indian variant as an example,  things change very quickly and the main consideration for organizations is to gauge the ‘fallout’ if borders are closed at short notice, leaving staff stranded temporarily, or the cost of quarantining and testing.

Until then, let’s see what happens to the UK and US restrictions on June 7th