Canada joins green list but Spain and Greece remain amber in lacklustre Covid travel review

Hopes dashed for Turkey, Maldives and Pakistan

Helen Coffey
Friday 27 August 2021 03:58
Traffic light latest with travel expert Simon Calder

Canada, Switzerland and Denmark are among the countries joining the green list following the government’s latest review of its traffic light system for travel abroad.

Seven destinations went green, meaning returning travellers face the lightest rules, regardless of vaccination status: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the autonomous Portuguese islands of the Azores.

From 4am on Monday, 30 August, travellers entering the UK from these countries, whether double-jabbed or not, can forgo quarantine. Instead they must present a negative lateral flow test prior to departure for the UK, and take a PCR test within two days of arrival.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have confirmed they will mirror the changes to the traffic light lists.

No nations were kicked off the green list, and no fresh entries were promoted from the “high risk” red list – which comes with the most onerous and costly restrictions – to amber.

However, Montenegro and Thailand were both demoted from amber to red, necessitating 11 nights of hotel quarantine for arrivals to the UK from 30 August onwards, at a cost of £2,285 per solo traveller. Only those with the right to reside in the UK may enter the country from a red list destination.

The Department for Transport said the changes were being made to the red list to reflect “the increased case rates in these countries and the higher risk that travel from these countries poses to UK public health”.

Although Canada’s green status is welcome news for Britons keen to reunite with family across the pond, UK travellers won’t be able to visit for leisure purposes until 7 September when border restrictions lift – and only then if they have been fully vaccinated.

All travellers will still require a pre-entry Covid-19 “molecular” test result, but double-jabbed visitors will no longer need a post-arrival test unless they are randomly selected to complete one on the first day of their stay in Canada. They can also forgo quarantine.

The travel industry reacted with disappointment to the lacklustre traffic light reshuffle, with Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, claiming the current review system is “destroying public confidence and making it impossible for the travel industry to trade its way through to recovery”.

The leading omission from changes is Turkey, which remains on the red list. The government in Ankara, as well as the travel industry in the UK, had lobbied intensively for the country to be taken off the high-risk register and moved to the “amber list” – meaning travellers fully vaccinated in the UK or EU need not self-isolate on return.

There were also hopes that the Maldives and Pakistan might be moved from the red list.

Sean Doyle, chairman and chief executive of British Airways, said: “Despite our world-leading vaccination programme the UK’s economic recovery remains far behind our more pragmatic European neighbours, which are already reaping the rewards of a rapid recovery.

“We have a much more costly, prohibitive and restrictive testing regime than everyone else. We also need to urgently end the uncertainty caused by the constant threat of changes to countries’ traffic light status. Our ‘green’ list is much smaller than that of the US and EU, despite no new variants being transported into the UK.”

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