Just 12 countries could be safely opened to UK holidaymakers by June

Charles HymasWed, 31 March 2021, 7:26 pm

Malta is expected to be included among the 'green list' countries - Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
Malta is expected to be included among the ‘green list’ countries – Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter

A dozen countries could be safely opened to British holidaymakers by June under a traffic light system, an analysis of vaccination and Covid rates shows.

As Boris Johnson prepares to unveil the framework for resuming foreign travel from May 17, only a handful of European countries will be low enough risk to permit quarantine-free holidays by the earliest date of May 17 for the resumption of flights abroad, according to the analysis.

Travellers returning from such “green list” countries are still likely to be required to pay for lateral flow tests in order to go on holiday but are expected to escape quarantine under the plans.

They include the traditional holiday destinations of Malta, Gibraltar, Portugal and Israel, which are expected to have vaccinated at least half their adult populations by May 17, maintained low Covid and variant rates and have comprehensive testing regimes.

Three more popular destinations – Spain, Greece and Turkey – would be on a putative “amber list”, where it is likely any travellers would be expected to have a pre-departure test within 72 hours of return, a test on arrival and at least three days quarantine.

The 35 hotel quarantine 'red list' countries
The 35 hotel quarantine ‘red list’ countries

Others on the “green list” include the USA, which aims to have its adult population vaccinated at least once by mid-May, Canada, Barbados and the United Arab Emirates, according to the analysis by travel consultancy The PC Agency.

On Monday, the Prime Minister is expected to confirm plans for a staged return to foreign travel based on a traffic light-style system but without naming any destinations.

“It is still too early to say where and when people will be able to go on holidays, but there will be detail about what that will look like,” said a Government source.

The global travel task force chaired by Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is due to report a week later, on April 12, setting out how travel will be resumed no earlier than May 17.

Travel industry chiefs anticipate most countries are unlikely to open as “green list” destinations for British holidaymakers until July or August. The biggest concern within Government is the risk from new variants that could undermine the efficacy of the UK’s successful vaccination programme.

It means foreign travel from “red list” countries at high risk of new variants will remain banned and any returning Britons will have to quarantine in Government-approved hotels.

Ministers are expected to meet at the “Covid O” Cabinet committee on Thursday to review global travel but are not expected to add any European countries to the 35-strong “red list”.

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