Summer may be well underway, but the options for foreign holidays are still severely limited.
At the moment, only 13 countries and territories are included on the UK travel green list, while a further 16 feature on the ‘green watchlist’.
This means they are at risk of being moved to amber status at short notice, which could force holidaymakers into a mandatory 10 day self-isolation period on their return to the UK.
However, with Covid-19 cases gradually beginning to fall in some parts of the world, it is possible that more quarantine-free holiday spots could open up to British tourists this month.
Which countries could be added to the green list?
The UK government’s travel traffic light list is due to be updated this week, with 12 new destinations tipped to be given green status.
Under current rules, all travellers entering the UK from green list destinations do not need to self-isolate on their return, regardless of vaccination status.
Ministers are expected to meet on Thursday (5 August) to decide what travel rules will be in place for most of August, which may provide more foreign travel options over the summer holidays.
Analysis of Covid-19 and vaccination rates by travel consultancy The PC Agency predicts that a dozen more countries could turn green following this week’s update, with the changes taking effect from Monday.
The countries expected to turn green following Thursday’s update include:
- Czech Republic
The travel agency also predicts that a further five destinations may move from the amber list to the green watch list thanks to a recent fall in coronavirus cases.
These include Bhutan, French Polynesia, North Macedonia, Norway and Saudi Arabia.
The predicted expansion of the greenlist comes following a new rule introduced this week to allow fully vaccinated travellers into the UK from the US and the European
The change came into effect at 4am on Monday (2 August) and means US and EU travellers who have received two Covid-19 vaccine doses no longer need to quarantine on arrival into England.
What is the amber watchlist?
Ministers are said to be planning to introduce a new travel category, dubbed the ‘amber watchlist’, which would work in the same way as the green watchlist currently in place.
If introduced, countries that are placed on the watchlist will be at risk of moving from amber status to red at short notice, putting thousands of holidaymakers at risk of having to stay in hotel quarantine.
If a country is moved from amber to red, travellers returning to the UK from that destination would be required to stay in a designated hotel for 10 days, at a cost of £1,750 per person.
The new category would mark an expansion of the ‘amber plus’ travel list already in place, which requires travellers to quarantine for up to 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.
At the moment only France is included on the amber plus list, but it is feared that popular holiday spots including Spain, Italy and Green may be at risk of being added to this category.
However, the government is facing backlash over the proposals for adding yet more confusion to an already complicated system.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has reportedly told the Prime Minister that the UK’s entry and exit rules are “out of step with our international competitors”, particularly given the number of British adults that have been vaccinated, and has called for travel restrictions to be eased.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is said to be against the plans for the watchlist, according to the Telegraph, and would instead like to see travel opened up further, while Labour has accused the government of being “in chaos over their border policy”.
Tory backbenchers have also slammed the plans for being ‘inexplicably complicated’.
However, Matt Warman, minister for digital infrastructure, has said that the travel watchlist provides people with more information to enable them to make “informed decisions” before heading abroad.
The Department for Transport has refused to comment on “speculation” when asked about whether an amber watchlist was being considered.
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