This “big bang” reopening for travel is due in large part to the UK’s successful rollout of the vaccination programme, which has seen one in four Britons receive both doses of the vaccine at the time of writing.
After the initial green list of countries – from where arrivals into England will not have to quarantine as of 17 May – is announced, the list will be reviewed every three weeks.
A small number of destinations are expected to make the cut at first, including Malta, Portugal and Israel, but many more should be added in the next few review sessions, reports the Times.
“June will look a lot more like normal, many of the traditional holiday destinations will be on the list by then,” said a government source.
Meanwhile, Professor Neil Ferguson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that if infection rates in France and Italy, for example, were similar to that of the UK this summer, “then there's no risk associated with travelling overseas”.
“The risk comes from going from a place like the UK with very low infection levels and going to a place with much higher infection levels and therefore having the risk of bringing infection back.
“If the two places are at comparable levels, and that's what the EU is saying, then there is no particular risks associated with travel.”
The European Union is considering plans to allow people from the UK, the US and Israel – countries with high vaccination rates – to travel freely within the EU from June, with no testing or quarantine restrictions, provided they are fully vaccinated.
However, the European Commission said the move would be based on equivalent treatment of European travellers.
“The figures for the UK are good,” said an EU official. “Those vaccinated in the UK will be eligible to travel.
“But the principle of reciprocity will be important.”
The UK government is reopening international travel using a traffic light system that classifies countries as green, amber or red.
Green countries come with the lightest restrictions: returning travellers must take a rapid antigen or lateral flow test before departure for the UK and a PCR test within two days of arrival.
Those travelling from amber countries must take a pre-departure test, PCR tests on day two and day eight after arrival, and quarantine for 10 days.
And red country arrivals must meet the same requirements as amber travellers but carry out their quarantine at a designated hotel, at a cost of £1,750 per solo traveller.
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