“Where can we go on 17 May?”
That was the first question from the audience during our Race to the Sun online event, held last night (April 28) – and one that has been concerning the travel desk for a while.
After 19 weeks of a complete ban on international leisure travel, from 17 May the government hopes to allow holidays to resume (from England, at least).
Assuming that happens, from the UK perspective the answer is: “Anywhere you like.”
Of course the destination can decide whether or not to accept you. There’s no guarantee that British holidaymakers will be welcomed. Even if a country says, “Come on in,” doesn’t automatically mean it’s a good bet this summer – if it’s rated “amber” or “red” you’ll need to quarantine when you get home.
My list of plausible candidates for “green” status that will actually let us in is pretty short: in Europe and the Mediterranean, only Gibraltar and Iceland look dead certs, while Israel (almost certain to be green) is opening up only slowly, with groups first.
But Portugal and Malta are improving, and if islands are separated from the rest of the country then the Balearics may make the cut.
Other locations such as Australia, New Zealand and plucky San Marino may make the green list, but that is irrelevant with other barriers in the way.
Other questioners wanted to know about handling the uncertainty of the “traffic light” system – but there is little that can be said right now.
A video of the event can be watched below
Bill Marshall is thinking of red list nations: If France is put on the red list, how feasible is it to avoid hotel quarantine by going from France to a “green light” country, and spend 10 days there before returning to UK? Short answer: very feasible.
The event happened on the day when the government revealed England’s “vaccine passport” for international travellers will be based on the standard NHS smartphone app. Pre- and post-flight testing will be eased by many nations if you have had both jabs, but not by the UK.
Many viewers have loved ones in distant parts of the world; while South Africa may move from red list to amber, reducing the self-isolation requirement from hotel to home quarantine, the US and Australia are not within our gift.
Travelling in the opposite direction, figuratively at least, was Sara Francis: “Is now not a good time to consider reducing our carbon emission footprint as many scramble to feed their travel desires?”
It’s happening in the short term: it remains to be seen whether there are lasting changes of behaviour. The travel desk of The Independent will continue to campaign for more responsible tourism.
For our next free online event join The Independent’s Middle East Correspondent, Bel Trew, live from Beirut as she explores the realities of modern day Iraq. The event is being held on 12 May.
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