Brits hoping for a holiday abroad this summer could soon have more options for quarantine-free travel as the Government will review its foreign travel list on Thursday (24 June).
The update of the green, amber and red lists will determine the quarantine and testing requirements for visiting different countries, with Malta and the Balearic Islands expected to be added to the green list, reports suggest.
Quarantine-free travel for amber countries
Under the rules of the travel traffic light system, people arriving in the UK from destinations on the green list are not required to self-isolate.
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However, at the moment there are currently no viable major tourist destinations included in this tier, with only 11 destinations on the list so far.
It is expected that Malta and the Balearic Islands, which include the holiday spots of Mallorca and Ibiza, will be added to the green list following Thursday’s review, with these countries among a “handful” of places being considered for a move, according to the Times.
A swathe of popular summer holiday hotspots are currently on the amber list, including Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, all of which have a 10-day quarantine period for travellers returning from these destinations to the UK.
It was confirmed earlier this week that the UK government is “working on” plans to allow quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated Brits returning from amber locations.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said the government hopes it will be possible to open up more destinations to holidaymakers, but it is important to “follow the data”.
Meanwhile, Cabinet minister George Eustice warned that a cautious approach will be taken to any changes to travel restrictions, but warned doing so is “difficult”.
The Environment Secretary told Sky News: “I want us to get back to a position where we can support those who want to travel to do so. Nobody likes the draconian restrictions we have had to put in place over this last year as we have wrestled with the pandemic.
“So, yes, we want to get to a position where we can support people who want to travel to be able to do so, but it is difficult.
“We are being cautious because the biggest threat still to our progress against this pandemic and the great progress we have made on vaccination is that there will be another variant somewhere that maybe hadn’t been properly detected in another country and that that variant is more resistant to vaccination.
“That’s the great challenge that we have got, that’s why we are proceeding with caution.”
Vaccine rollout could allow more travel freedoms
The possible changes to the green list come as vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi revealed almost half of all adults aged 25 to 29 in England, and a third of those aged 18 to 24, have now received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
More than 14,000 lives have been saved by the vaccination programme and 44,500 hospital admissions have been averted in England – 2,500 in the past two weeks.
Mr Zahawi is “confident” that 66 per cent of adults could have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine by 19 July, which has been earmarked for when all remaining lockdown restrictions in England could be lifted.
Speaking about younger adults coming forward for their jab, he said: “The enthusiasm is making a huge difference.
“We have already given first doses to almost half of all 25 to 29-year-olds in England and only a week after the programme opened to all adults on Friday, one-third of people aged between 18 and 24 have had their first dose.
“To all of the young people who have stepped up, I want to say a huge thank you.
“You have protected yourself, you have protected your families, and you have protected your communities.”
What are the current travel rules?
Under current rules, foreign holidays are permitted across the UK, but government advice recommends only visiting countries which are on the green list.
Travellers visiting green listed countries will need to take a pre-departure Covid test, plus a PCR test on or before day two of returning to the UK, but quarantine is not necessary.
Currently, only 11 countries are included on the green list and strict entry requirements are in place for these destinations, so UK travellers have very limited options for holidays abroad.
While there is no law prohibiting people from travelling to an amber or red list country for a holiday, the government is urging people only to travel to destinations on the green list.
Those who do travel to these destinations will be going against government advice and additional Covid checks will be required, including entering quarantine and taking a PCR test on day two and day eight of your return.