Can I travel to my second home? Latest advice as quarantine rules are reintroduced for mainland Portugal

Is visiting your Cotswolds cottage or chateau in Provence on the table?

can i travel to my second home coronavirus covid quarantine uk spain europe france malta portugal croatia
Latest coronavirus advice for travellers with second homes

Mainland Portugal remains on the UK's quarantine list this week, although no quarantine is required when returning from the Portuguese islands of the Azores and Madeira. Meanwhile Thailand and Singapore have been added to the UK's safe list (as Sweden was last week), although neither are welcoming international tourists back yet. 

You will, however, now be required to quarantine for 14 days when returning to the UK from Slovenia and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, which have just been added to the ever-growing list, which recently gained  Hungary, Reunion and French Polynesia. 

All this comes after  seven Greek islands - Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete and Zakynthos (Zante) - were added to the list, with Switzerland, Jamaica and The Czech Republic the most recently added before that. 

In the last few weeks, we've seen France, Croatia, Austria, Malta, Monaco, Turks & Caicos, Aruba and the Netherlands get added to the list - or in the case of France, go back on - and Cuba come off.

Other countries recently removed from the list requiring quarantine when returning to the UK include Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia and St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean.

Remember, for the exemption to apply, you also can't have stopped in or travelled through any non-exempt countries in the preceding 14 days.

The much-anticipated 'air bridge' concept was shelved in favour of a 'traffic light' system whereby countries are classified as red, amber or green depending on the prevalence of coronavirus there. Those travelling from 'amber' or 'green' countries will not have to self-quarantine on arriving in the UK, those from 'red' countries will.

It should be noted that no quarantine on arriving home doesn't guarantee a reciprocal arrangement with every country. In other words, individual countries may still not welcome visitors or require them to self-isolate on arrival, although we know that this will not be the case in France, Italy and Spain, for example.

All this combined with the UK's two-metre social distancing rule now reduced to one metre in England (Scotland,  Wales and Northern Ireland are yet to join on this) has meant that some of us have been lucky enough to get away this August. But what a lottery it's been. 

Should you have a yacht or a private jet handy, you'll probably have weathered all of it far better than the rest of us, being able to leapfrog the inevitable wait for train timetables and airline routes to right themselves. 

Each country has its own, often complicated, set of rules and time frame for implementing them. So who is doing what?

A villa at Finca Cortesin in Andalucia Credit: Allessan

England

Likelihood of getting to your second home now: High

The big news is that the number of people who can gather together socially, regardless of whether it's indoors or outdoors, has been slashed to six in England, Scotland and Wales. These rules do not apply to households or bubbles of more than six, gatherings for work or education, weddings, funerals and organised team sports carried out in a Covid-secure way. 

The two-metre distancing rule has now been reduced to what they're calling 'one-metre plus.' This means two metres should be maintained where there is the option to do so and where it isn't, it should be one metre with additional measures such as masks, in place. 

The government is no longer telling people to work from home but is giving employers the discretion to decide what's best. Anyone can now use public transport, on which face coverings are now mandatory, as they are in shops, supermarkets and banks. You no longer have to wear face coverings in museums, cinemas, concert halls and theatres. 

All non-essential shops can now open, as can restaurants, cafes, bars and hairdressers, with indoor service at cafes and restaurants limited to table-service. 

Hotels, self-catering accommodation and campsites are now allowed to open, although indoor gyms, swimming pools and spas will have to remain closed for now.

According to luxury villa rental companies like Unique Homestays and Oliver’s Travels, there has been a surge in demand for stays in fabulous homes in secluded spots both at home and abroad this summer.

Oliver’s Travels, which has houses at home and abroad, has launched a ‘Book with confidence’ pledge, meaning you can postpone your stay up to 14 days before departure without a problem. 

The reason all this is relevant is because the reawakening of the rental market signals the beginning of a much bigger movement to kick-start tourism again. In many parts of the UK this will involve re-selling to locals the idea that outsiders coming in will benefit them and their economy. So it should help those with second homes feel welcomed back by the communities into which they have bought.

For those chomping at the bit to re-book their regular seat aboard the Great Western Railway down to second homes in Devon and Cornwall, the service is now back up to at least 84% of its service. Now the ban on non-essential travel within the UK has been lifted, it is a viable option once more. 

A hot tub at Dry Creek, a holiday house in Cornwall available through Latitude50

Scotland

Likelihood of getting to your second home now: High

Scotland has now lifted its five-mile travel limit but as mentioned above, gatherings of more than six people are banned from Monday. 

On 15 July, pubs, restaurants and all holiday accommodation were permitted to re-open, as could barbers, museums, cinemas, libraries and childcare - with social distancing measures in place. Face-covering is compulsory on all public transport and in all shops.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has just added Switzerland to the list of countries you will now have to self-isolate for 14 days when returning from.

Specialists in holiday homes in Scotland and on the borders, Crabtree & Crabtree says it will now confirm bookings and that September and October are already looking busy.

Wales

Likelihood of getting to your second home now: High

Wales has been incredibly cautious throughout this period. 

The number of people who can gather inside has also gone down to 6 and they must all belong to the same extended household group, although this does not apply to children under 11. It will apply to people in all pubs, restaurants and private homes. The rules for outdoors will remain as they were, which is that up to 30 people can gather. 

Until 6 July, people in Wales were required to stay within five miles of their homes. This has now been lifted and people can travel as far as they like for whatever purpose, which includes people coming into Wales from elsewhere in the UK. 

From July 11, we've been able to rent self-contained holiday accommodation as long as no facilities are shared with others. All self-catering accommodation can now re-open.

Ireland

Likelihood of getting to your second home now: High and Low

Right now, we can travel to Northern Ireland but we can't travel to the Republic of Ireland.  

The Republic of Ireland started its lockdown before the UK and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been working his way through a five-stage lockdown departure, which began on 18 May.

On 21 July, The Republic of Ireland published a green list of countries considered safe for travel. Great Britain is not on the list so for the moment we would be expected to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival there. This could be reviewed at any moment. 

Anyone from the UK can go to Northern Ireland without quarantining there.

Many hotels and holiday rentals in both Northern Ireland and the Republic have now re-opened, signalling a welcome return of domestic tourism. 

France

Likelihood of getting to your second home now: Low

Anyone returning from France will have to quarantine on returning to the UK.

The Association of British Insurers says travel insurance will remain valid for people who are already in the newly quarantined countries, until they return home.

Eurotunnel Le Shuttle is advising people not to turn up outside their allocated travel time as the service is already very busy and there is no additional capacity.

Read more: Can I travel to France?

Villa Rose Pierre, a private home in the grounds of Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat in the South of France

Anyone using any kind of public transport in France is currently required to wear a face mask. 

Looking to the future, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, is definitely the way to go. A speedy and, more importantly, entirely contact-free way of crossing the Channel (you never have to leave your car), it has also just introduced the new Standard Refundable Ticket (from £72 per car for up to nine people) to encourage people to get booking. Brittany Ferries has also already resumed service.

Italy 

Likelihood of getting to your second home now: High

We are currently not required to quarantine when returning home from Italy. 

Visitors from the UK, other EU countries, Iceland, Liechenstein, Norway, Andorra and Monaco can now travel freely to Italy without having to self-isolate and everyone (Italians and foreign visitors alike) can move freely between the regions. 

Villa Spinaltermine on the Reschio estate in Umbria Credit: Philip Vile

Shops and restaurants have now re-opened with social distancing measures in place. 

With the threat that as little as a 20% increase in mobility could lead to a new coronavirus spike, Italy will slam on the breaks if it needs to. Masks must be worn on all public transport and in enclosed public spaces.

Spain

Likelihood of getting to your second home now: Low

Spain, which had begun welcoming international travellers back without the need to quarantine on arrival, and which had also featured on the UK's list of 'travel corridor' countries from which you would not have to quarantine when returning home, has lost that status in the UK, after spikes in numbers of new cases in several regions.

Currently, anyone returning to the UK from Spain (or her islands) will be expected to quarantine for 14 days. 

Head Gardener's House within the grounds of Floors Castle on the Scottish Borders, offered by Crabtree & Crabtree Credit: Tracey Bloxham

Greece

Likelihood of getting to your second home now: Medium, depending on which part

Until now, the whole of Greece has been on the UK's 'green list' but now travellers returning to the UK from seven Greek islands - Lesvos, Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Santorini, Crete and Zakynthos (Zante) will have to quarantine for 14 days. 

All visitors to other parts of Greece must fill in a Passenger Locator Form at least 24 hours before arriving in Greece. They will then receive an email confirmation with a unique QR Code on it. A certain number of people will be randomly selected for a Covid screening test on arrival in Greece.

While they will be free to continue on to their final destination at that point, they will have to self-isolate for 24 hours until their results come in, which they will receive by text. If the test is positive they will be made to quarantine under supervision for 14 days. If negative, they can continue with their holiday as normal. 

Croatia

Likelihood of getting to your second home now: Low

Croatia was on the UK's 'safe travel' list but has now been removed so anyone returning from there to the UK currently has to quarantine for 14 days when they get home. 

The first Balkan country to ease restrictions, the process began in Croatia on 27 April, with the opening of most retail outlets, libraries, galleries, museums and bookshops and public transport, including fast-speed lines to islands but excluding ferry lines. Hotels have been allowed to open since 11 May and some of the country's top hotels are now following suit. 

Beaches and national parks have re-opened, gatherings of up to ten with social distancing are allowed, restaurants and bars can serve people on outdoor terraces, and inter-city public transport and domestic air traffic has re-launched. 

Villa Spinaltermine on the Umbrian estate of Reschio  

Turkey

Likelihood of getting to your second home now: High

Turkey re-opened its international borders on 12 June and is on the list of countries from which you now won't have to quarantine when returning to the UK. 

Portugal

Likelihood of getting to your second home now: Low

Mainland Portugal has just been re-added to the UK's quarantine list so from 4am on Saturday you will now have to self-isolate for 14 days when returning to the UK. This does not apply to those returning from Madeira or the Azores.

Switzerland

Likelihood of getting to your second home now: Low

While Scotland added Switzerland to their quarantine list before the rest of the UK did, it is now on the quarantine list across the UK. 

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