Grant Shapps has revealed the updated travel lists in the government’s first review of its traffic light system since leisure travel legally resumed on 17 May.
No new countries were added to the green list, despite fervid hopes that various Greek and Spanish islands might make the cut based on low Covid infection rates.
In a further blow to the travel industry and British holidaymakers, the one mainstream tourism destination on the green list, Portugal, was downgraded to amber due to a doubling of cases since the last review and fears over variants of concern. Its colour change will take effect from 4am on 8 June.
Only 11 nations and territories still qualify for “no quarantine” status for returning travellers: Ascension Island, Australia, Brunei, the Falkland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena, Singapore, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
The only traditional summer-sun destinations that remain on the green list are Gibraltar and Israel.
Ireland retains its special status as a member of the common travel area, with no restrictions imposed on travellers to the UK.
Under the traffic light system, countries are rated as red, amber or green, depending on the risk they are believed to pose of importing new cases and variants of coronavirus to the UK.
Travellers from green-list nations must pay for a pre-departure and post-arrival test before the journey back to the UK.
The existing red list, requiring hotel quarantine, has been expanded, with the addition of Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Trinidad & Tobago. It now totals 50 countries.
The new traffic light system uses data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre that evaluates the risk that arrivals from abroad, including returning holidaymakers, may harm public health in the UK.
The criteria are coronavirus infection rates, reliability of data, prevalence of “variants of concern”, genomic sequencing capability, vaccine roll-out and passengers connecting through key hubs.
After the first review of the lists, Mr Shapps, the transport secretary, said the government’s approach would be “cautious”.
He said: “The public has always known travel will be different this year and we must continue to take a cautious approach to reopening international travel in a way that protects public health and the vaccine rollout.
“While we are making great progress in the UK with the vaccine rollout, we continue to say that the public should not travel to destinations outside the green list.”
Further reviews of the green list are expected to take place every three weeks.
The green list is not reciprocal: many of the locations are closed to British travellers, and others will accept only tourists who have been fully vaccinated.
Green list in full
- Faroe Islands
- Falkland Islands
- New Zealand
- Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Red list in full
- Cape Verde
- Costa Rica
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- French Guiana
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
All other countries will be categorised as “amber”. See the full amber list here.
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