Heathrow and Gatwick: face mask, social distancing and other Covid rules for France, Portugal, Germany and Spain


Travel rules becoming more open for people in England going abroad will become a more realistic option from October.

On Friday September 17, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps announced that Covid’s traffic light system would be streamlined into two groups from October 4.

And from the end of October, those with a double bite could take a lateral flow test when they return from vacation rather than a PCR.

READ MORE: EasyJet, Ryanair, Jet2 and Tui travel updates after new traffic light system unveiled

It has also been confirmed that from October 4, holidaymakers will also not need a pre-departure test before returning to England.

The hope is that with the reduction in the rules, more people will feel comfortable traveling abroad and that it will not cost vacationers as much.

An update on the traffic light system was announced on Friday (September 17)

The government has set each country’s rules, laws and restrictions that UK nationals must follow when traveling and staying abroad.

Here are the latest face mask and social distancing rules, based on the GOV.UK website, for major European travel destinations:


  • Wearing face masks is mandatory in enclosed public spaces, with the exception of gatherings, queues, markets and stadiums.
  • Wearing a mask on public transport is compulsory for all users aged 11 and over.
  • People attending events and cultural spaces of more than 50 people will need to demonstrate their Covid status.
  • UK residents can confirm their vaccination status by presenting the QR code of the relevant NHS portal or by using the downloadable PDF certificate.
  • Some travel operators such as airlines may specify the types of masks to be worn on board.

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  • Social distancing of 1.5 meters.
  • Wearing face masks is compulsory in enclosed public spaces or outdoors where a social distance of 1.5 meters cannot be respected.
  • Follow the rules put in place by establishments such as hotels, bars, shops and restaurants.
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer gel when soap and water are not available.
  • Wearing face masks is compulsory in any interior space where people who are not from the same household mix.
  • Face masks must be worn on all public transport.
  • Spanish regional authorities may also impose other rules such as curfews and number restrictions in social situations.
  • Wearing a face mask remains compulsory for anyone over 6 years old and is recommended for children aged 3 to 5.


  • Keep a social distance of 2 meters.
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer gel when soap and water are not available.
  • Follow all safety measures put in place by hotels, restaurants, bars and shops to reduce the risk of infection.
  • All restaurants, bars and cafes must close before 2 a.m.
  • Up to 8 people maximum can eat together inside a restaurant and up to 15 people maximum outside.
  • Nightclubs are open for the purpose of serving drinks, but no dancing is allowed.
  • Drinking alcohol in public is only allowed when you are sitting in restaurants and cafes.
  • At the beach, place your umbrella and towel 10 feet away from the next group, and keep a social distance of 1.5 feet when walking along the sand.
  • Face masks should be worn in cafes and restaurants until you are seated.
  • You should also wear a face mask when walking along boardwalks and other outdoor areas where it is not possible to maintain a 2 meter social distance from people outside your family group.
  • Wear face masks in enclosed public spaces and outdoors where a social distance of 2 meters cannot be maintained.
  • Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test may be required in certain scenarios such as when checking in at accommodation.


  • Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should continue to follow basic rules such as social distancing, wearing masks in confined spaces, and regular ventilation of indoor space.
  • Wearing a medical-grade mask remains a legal obligation in retail businesses and on public transport.
  • Proof of vaccination, recovery from infection or a negative test will be required in some settings.
  • Rules may change in different regions, so they should be checked.


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