As the rules for international travel from England change, we’ve taken a look at the latest tips for overseas travel from Northern Ireland.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Friday that international travel can gradually begin to reopen safely from May 17 in England, allowing people to go on holiday abroad to Green List countries .
The ‘Stay in UK’ regulation will be lifted on May 17, meaning that leisure travel from England will no longer be illegal.
However, strict border control measures will remain in place as international travel gradually resumes.
Different levels of restriction will be applied to people returning to England from countries depending on the traffic light system established by the Global Travel Taskforce.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not said when they could ease their strict travel restrictions, but Mr Shapps said the UK’s four chief medical officers agreed on the principles of the traffic light system.
When the journey starts again, it will be different, especially when returning to the UK. Reopening international travel, while maintaining 100% health checks at the border, means longer waits are likely – passengers from any destination will still be required to complete a passenger locator form and present proof of a negative test result before departure.
What did the executive say about international travel?
There had been no executive update following England’s announcement on Friday and Belfast Live contacted the executive office regarding the latest advice regarding international travel and implementing our own traffic light system, but did not receive a response.
On the NI Direct website, the international travel advice states, “You should avoid traveling as much as possible due to the continuing threat of the coronavirus. If you have to travel overseas, keep up to date with the latest tips for the country. you plan to surrender. You will either need to self-isolate (hotel quarantine) or self-isolate upon your return.
“If you have a valid reason to travel, you need to keep up to date with the latest advice regarding the country you plan to travel to and the requirements for your return home. “
When it comes to traveling within the Common Travel Area (UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands). You should only travel if it is essential.
If you are arriving in Northern Ireland from the Common Travel Area and plan to stay here for at least 24 hours, public health advice is that you must self-isolate on arrival for 10 days, unless you are exempt.
Earlier in the week, Economy Minister Diane Dodds announced the development of the Northern Ireland Home Aviation Starter System (NIDAKS), an airline support program aimed at improving connectivity air with the rest of the UK after the pandemic.
She said Northern Ireland’s economic recovery needed air connectivity to return to pre-Covid levels as soon as possible.
She said: “Air connectivity is vital for Northern Ireland’s economic recovery. That is why I have approved the appointment of aviation consultants who will design and develop an airline support program to maintain and improve Northern Ireland’s domestic air connectivity with Great Britain this summer.
“We have engaged with our three local airports and airlines. The aim of NIDAKS is to support inbound tourism and business travel between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) in the local economy. These are essential for recovery. “
Speaking of international travel, the Minister added: “International travel must be safe for everyone. However, I am quite clear about its importance to our airports, our airlines and the travel industry in general. I want to see the return of safe international travel as soon as possible. “
What are the bosses of the two Belfast airports saying about the resumption of international travel?
Graham Keddie, Managing Director of Belfast International, the executive is to take a four nation approach and follow England and also lift travel guidelines in the common travel area.
He said the traffic light system was to be applied in Northern Ireland at the same time as England on May 17 and added that “there is no point in doing anything else”.
“Most importantly, we need all the advice, and it’s just advice, that you are supposed to quarantine if you spend more than 24 hours in Northern Ireland as a traveler from Great Britain, we have need these things to be lifted, ”he said.
“This is extremely important to us, we will not go into any relative normalcy until these things are introduced by the executive. “
Mr Keddie said the three airports in Northern Ireland had written twice to the executive to try to urge them to heed their appeals on these matters, with the latest letter being sent this week.
“What is the point of having the most successful vaccination program in Europe if we always insist that fully vaccinated people be tested, there is a big question mark about that,” Mr Keddie said. .
When asked if customers can confidently book travel for this summer and if the airport has a busy flight schedule for the summer months, Mr Keddie said the flights were all there in the system with airlines such as Jet2 and easyJet.
“I think it all depends on this traffic light system and it needs to be picked up here and we need to make sure that if we’re going to open it, let’s be sane about the opening,” he said. .
Mr Keddie, when asked about the future of aviation in Northern Ireland if the executive takes a more cautious approach than England to opening up international travel, he said: ‘This is going to be difficult and we will come back to get support and if we’re treated him differently from England, that basically means he’s sucking traffic from here. ”
Responding to people’s hopes for summer travel, he added: “The flights are there for the summer in the system, my main message would be to the executive, follow England and lift all restrictions in GB, what is the point of these restrictions when we have an NHS and UK vaccination program.
“There is still a lot of hope for traveling. “
Brian Ambrose, Managing Director of Belfast City Airport, said: “Together with other local stakeholders, we have worked closely with the government to call for the end of the quarantine period on domestic flights.
“The entire travel industry has felt the economic pain of the pandemic and it is imperative that there is no delay as we all seek to recover.
“The continued success of the vaccination rollout has heralded an easing of restrictions across the economy and as an island dependent on air travel, it is essential that we are not left behind. “
Regarding travel to Europe, Mr Ambrose said they were waiting for more information on the green list, but the airport is ready to facilitate those who wish to travel abroad, with direct flights to the ‘Italy, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands from Belfast.
Which countries are on England’s green list?
A total of 12 countries and territories have been added to the green list. Some of them include: Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; The Falkland Islands; and Israel and Jerusalem.
However, many ‘green list’ countries will continue to impose restrictions on UK travelers, including quarantine measures, so passengers are encouraged to check all FCDO travel requirements and advice before booking a flight. travelling abroad.
For the latest news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter here.