Turkey has been added to the “red” list of countries as part of the reopening of international travel from 17 May, it was confirmed on Friday.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced that the country would not make the list of ‘safe’ green countries, stating that the removal of international travel restrictions on May 17 was “necessarily cautious” and adding: “We must make sure the countries we reconnect with are safe.”
The lists are expected to be reviewed and updated every three weeks.
This vast country is currently under its first lockdown in a bid to stem spiking Covid transmission rates, dashing its prospects of appearing on the government’s new “green list” for travel.
Foreign travel will reopen this summer under a traffic light system, with countries split into three categories: green, amber or red, depending on their level of risk in relation to Covid-19.
Destinations on the “green list” will come with the lightest restrictions, with returning travellers not required to quarantine when back in the UK.
So, is a Turkish getaway likely this summer? Here’s everything you need to know.
Will British holidaymakers be allowed to travel to Turkey this summer?
While the Turkish authorities are keen for tourists to return, the country of 82 million is currently under a full lockdown after daily coronavirus cases surged to the highest level in Europe in April.
Under current measures, locals must stay at home except for essential shopping trips and to receive urgent medical treatment. Schools are closed and travel between cities requires official approval. The lockdown remains in place until 17 May.
The efficacy of the lockdown in reducing Covid cases will dictate the likelihood of Turkey being upgraded to the amber list, which will be subject to change depending on local transmission rates.
Earlier this week, Turkish tourism minister Mehmet Ersoy said a sharp drop in Covid-19 transmission rates since 21 April was a hopeful sign that tourism could return this summer.
“As of 1 June, we will open the tourist season and if we can reduce the number of daily cases below 5,000, we maintain our target of 30 million tourists this year,” he said.
The UK’s transport secretary Grant Shapps has said that red list countries are “those which should not be visited except in the most extreme of circumstances”.
What rules will travellers visiting countries on the red list have to comply with?
Returning Brits will be required to present a negative Covid test (which can be lateral flow or rapid antigen as well as PCR) before departure to the UK. They must then quarantine in a government-mandated hotel for 11 nights upon arrival at a cost of £1,750, and are required to take a PCR test on days two and eight.
Will I need to self-isolate upon arrival in Turkey?
There is currently no requirement to self-isolate once in Turkey, although this may change.
What rules and restrictions are in place in Turkey?
As outlined above, the country is currently under lockdown meaning that there are strict restrictions on activities and movement throughout Turkey.
Wearing face masks is mandatory at all times outside the home throughout the country and smoking is banned in open areas, such as the street and other public spaces.
Restaurants and coffee shops are offering delivery services only, while essential shops selling food will operate between 10am and 5pm only. Driving is not permitted.
Beauty salons, Turkish baths, gyms, amusement parks and internet cafés are also closed.
What is the current Covid-19 status in Turkey?
According to the World Health Organisation, there have been 41,883 deaths from coronavirus recorded in Turkey to date. Over 23 million vaccine doses have been administered, equating to around 15 per cent of the country’s population.
The highest daily average number of cases was recorded on 20 April. Since then, infection rates have been slowly decreasing.