THE government has announced a traffic light travel system for countries this summer.
Countries will be ranked as red, amber or green dependant on how high risk the destination is.
A country can get "green light" status where the government judges the risk to be lower, based for instance on vaccinations, infection rates, the prevalence of variants of concern, and their genomic sequencing capacity.
However, for those hopeful of finding out where to book flights to – they have said that it is too early to say which countries will be on the green list as this will be "driven by data nearer the time."
Since February, we have known that international travel would start no earlier than May 17, but according to a report released today we may have to "wait longer before lifting the outbound travel restriction."
The new system being discussed would use a three-colour guide to mandate what restrictions travellers would face depending on the risk if travel resumes from June.
Countries on the "green" list would be able to travel without restrictions such as Covid tests or quarantining, and only require a lateral flow test when returning to the UK.
"Amber" countries – expected to include popular destinations such as Spain, Greece and Turkey – would require a negative Covid test before arrival in the UK, plus two further tests once in the country and a ten-day quarantine at home.
Then arrivals from "red list countries would have to isolate at a quarantine hotel for 11 days, at a cost of £1,750.
While we haven't been given the details of which countries could be on the green list, there are a number of destinations in with a chance as they have kept their cases low or whose vaccination drives are progressing quickly.
According to research by The PC Agency, countries which could be put on the lowest risk list include Malta and Portugal, both of which have kept cases low, while Malta is the leading EU destination for the vaccine.
Israel could also make the list, with 60 per cent of the population having their first jab, while the US could even make the green list with plans to have the adult population given the first jab by mid-May.
Canada, Barbados, Mexico, Gibraltar, Sri Lanka, Morocco, the UAE and Grenada could also all find themselves on the green list, according to the study by The PC Agency.
Health minister Ed Argar said the Prime Minister was trying to give "as much foresight and as few surprises as possible" about the possibility of international travel this year during his press conference today.
Pressed on whether Europe was likely to be on the "caution list" of destinations due to a surge in cases, the minister replied: "We are seeing many of our friends in Europe seeing an increase in infections.
While certain countries will be placed on the green, amber and red lists at the relaunch of foreign travel, the government has confirmed that destinations will be moved into different categories as new Covid date emerges over the course of the summer.
This could result in similar scenes to last summer, when holidaymakers were left scrambling for flights back to the UK as countries were added to the quarantine list with just 24 hours notice.
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