Heathrow Airport proposes four-tier traffic light system for foreign holidays, reports say

Zoe TidmanSat, 27 March 2021, 9:16 pm

Under the current roadmap for easing restrictions, the earliest date people in England could go on holiday abroad would be 17 May  (PA)
Under the current roadmap for easing restrictions, the earliest date people in England could go on holiday abroad would be 17 May (PA)

Heathrow Airport has put forward proposals for a four-tier traffic light system to help kickstart foreign travel for the summer holidays, according to reports.

The plans have reportedly been put forward to the government’s global travel taskforce, who are looking at suggestions on how to safely restart the industry during the coronavirus pandemic.

The group is set to report next month on recommendations over how to bring back international travel as soon as possible while managing the risk of imported cases and variants of concern.

Under the current roadmap for easing lockdown, the earliest date people in England could go on holiday abroad would be 17 May.

According to The Telegraph, Heathrow Airport has recommended a four-tier traffic light system to the taskforce, with an “amber” option of a customised three-day quarantine and testing regime.

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An amber alert would reportedly be triggered over a “variant of concern” identified in a country and uncertainty over the risk it posed to the UK’s vaccine rollout.

Those coming from an “amber” country would have to be tested within 72 hours of leaving and on arrival in the UK – and would be allowed to leave quarantine if they tested negative on their third day back, according to The Telegraph.

The proposed system would have a “yellow list” – for which travel would involve testing and/or vaccination certifications but no quarantine – and a “green list”, whose countries would have no travel restrictions attached, the newspaper reported.

The plans would reportedly keep the current “red list” of countries, which bans travellers from high-risk countries from entering the UK, except for British and Irish nationals and people with residence rights – who face a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine – and certain professions.

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, said: “The UK’s progress in the global vaccine race coupled with advances in testing, means that ministers no longer need to choose between public health and the economy – a risk-based approach to international travel will allow us to protect them both.”

He added: “Restarting trade and travel to key markets like the US after 17 May will be key to the government achieving its Global Britain ambitions and helping communities across the UK to level up.”

The recommendations come as a scientist warned keeping borders open for international travel could risk undoing vaccine progress.

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), which advises the government, said allowing overseas trips without efficient testing and tracing in place could enable a vaccine-evading variant to enter the UK.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson said the “natural wanderlust” of Britons will lead to a “miraculous change” in the desire to holiday abroad, implying that summer holidays could still be on the cards – though he acknowledged things are “looking difficult” in Europe where transmissions are rising.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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