Covid travel update: when will Turkey leave the red list?

For Brits, Turkey isn't the easiest place to holiday right now. While citizens of Russia and the US can travel freely to and from Turkey, British tourists face a 10-day quarantine on return from Turkey.

With 27,000 new infections reported each day in Turkey, the country is on a par with the UK's daily rate of 29,000. However, the requirement for UK tourists returning from a summer trip to Antalya, Fethiye, Bodrum or Turkey's other tourist favourites is a full 10 days in a quarantine hotel. This requirement has taken Turkey off the table for the vast majority of British tourists.

When will Turkey leave the red list?

The next review of the UK's traffic light system will come at the end of August. Officials will look at the proportion of the Turkish population that has been vaccinated; current infection rates; and the prevalence of covid variants and the ability to sequence their genomes. Turkey's fast-paced vaccination drive may well push the country onto the amber list, but nothing is certain.

How many Turks are vaccinated?

Over 30 million second doses have been administered, which means 49% of the population are now fully vaccinated. Almost 70% of the population has received their first dose.

Am I allowed to travel to Turkey? 

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office currently advises against all but essential travel to Turkey. While this means Brits can technically travel to Turkey, it will be hard to find travel insurance. 

Are flights between the UK and Turkey still operating?

Yes, but on a reduced schedule.

Travel requirements to Turkey

If the quarantine doesn't put you off, you can enter Turkey by completing a Turkish Ministry of Health entry form 72 hours before you leave. You'll be issued with an HES (Hayat Eve Sigar or ‘Life Fits into Home’) code: HES is Turkey's track and trace system.

You'll also need to provide a negative PCR test, taken with the 72 hours prior to arrival. You'll need to fill in a passenger locator form, where you give details of your destination in Turkey, and your contact information.

On arrival, you will be subjected to a medical evaluation where you'll be checked for Covid symptoms, including temperature checks. If you test positive on arrival, you will be required to enter a compulsory quarantine.

Will I need to wear a mask?

Yes: you will need to wear a mask just about everywhere, including hotels, bars, restaurants, shops, banks, hospitals, tourist attractions ... all public places. While the police will fine Turkish offenders who skip mask wearing, as a tourist you'll likely just be given a warning.

Even on beaches?

On most beaches, you're required to wear a mask en route to your sunbed, when using the bathroom or an adjacent cafe. On your lounger, or in the sea, you can remove it.

Are there restrictions at restaurants and cafes?

More upmarket eateries will require you to have your temperature taken, and you'll need to show your HES code when you enter. But inside, you can sit in close proximity to people in your own party, and you can remove your mask. At small eateries it's unlikely you will be subject to any checks.

In bars, you could also be required to have your temperature taken and show your HES code. While social distancing is a little more relaxed than at restaurants, there is one rule that will be adhered to: the music will be turned off at midnight, as per a government Covid 19 regulation.

What about shopping?

Shops will have signs on display warning guests to wear a mask and stay 1.5m apart. At supermarkets, you might have your temperature taken and HES code checked. At shopping malls, you might find your bag will be screened.

And hotels?

Larger hotels with 30 or more rules are subject to the Safe Tourism Certification Programme, which requires temperature checks and HES code scanning. Staff are required to be fully vaccinated and wearing PPE. Care will be taken with sanitising, and buffets are no longer self service: you have to ask staff to fill your plate for you.



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