No new destinations have been added to the green list in the government’s latest travel update due to concerns about rising Covid-19 cases in the UK.
Popular summer hotspots, including the Spanish and Greek islands, and Malta, had hoped to be awarded green status after the announcement on Thursday (3 June), but the list will remain unchanged.
In addition, Portugal will be added to the amber list, as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps raised concerns of a new coronavirus mutation and rising cases.
The holiday destination, including the islands of Madeira and the Azores, will be removed from the green list exempting the need to quarantine on return from 4am on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka, Egypt and five other countries will also be added to the red list requiring isolation in a Government-approved hotel, it was announced on Thursday afternoon.
Ministers confirmed Portugal would be placed on the amber list following a meeting between the Westminster and devolved governments, as well as the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
People returning to the UK from Portugal will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days as part of coronavirus restrictions.
Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago will also be placed on the red list, meaning people arriving in the UK from those nations will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights.
In an interview, Mr Shapps said: “I want to be straight with people, it’s actually a difficult decision to make, but in the end we’ve seen two things really which caused concern.
“One is the positivity rate has nearly doubled since the last review in Portugal and the other is there’s a sort of Nepal mutation of the so-called Indian variant which has been detected and we just don’t know the potential for that to be vaccine-defeating mutation and simply don’t want to take the risk as we come up to June 21 and the review of the fourth stage of the unlock.”
The government’s lists and rules only apply in England, but have been largely mirrored by devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Portugal to move to amber
The government has confirmed that Portugal, which was the only viable tourist destination on the green list, will lose its green list status and be moved to the amber tier instead.
This will mean that people currently on holiday in Portugal will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days on returning to the UK after the changes are implemented next week.
Portugal will be moved to the amber list after scientists alerted ministers to a new ‘Nepal variant’ of Covid-19, which is thought to have spread into some European countries.
Scientists from the Joint Biosecurity Centre are reportedly concerned about rising infection rates and the emergence of mutations in the holiday hotspot.
However, a member of the government’s SAGE committee said officials should not be overly concerned about the variant just yet, stating: “There are thousands of variants. This is a virus that is changing all the time."
Can I go on holiday to an amber destination?
While there is no law prohibiting people from travelling to an amber list country for a holiday, the government is urging people not to go and to stick only to countries on the green list.
If you do choose to travel to an amber destination for your holiday, you will be going against government advice and additional Covid checks will be required, including self-isolating for 10 days and taking a PCR test on day two and day eight of your return.
Helen Chambers, Travel Insurance Expert at MoneySuperMarket, advised that the traffic light list should not impact travellers’ insurance, although there is a risk that any changes that are made to the list could result in holidays being cancelled.
Most travel companies are refusing refunds in the event a trip is cancelled due to the destination being on the amber list, although some firms, including Exodus, Kuoni and easyJet Holidays, have been praised by consumer group Which? for their flexible policies.
Ms Chambers told NationalWorld: “If your country is on the amber list but the FCDO say that it is safe to travel then you are covered from an insurance perspective.
"However, it’s worth keeping in mind that if the country you are travelling to goes from the green list to an amber or red list and you decide not to travel, your insurer will not cover the cancellation of your holiday.
"Some package tour operators have advised that they will be continuing to operate holidays to countries that are classed as ‘amber’. This is on the provision that the FCDO does not advise against ‘all but essential’ travel to these areas.
"We recommend that consumers book using tour operators to give them more confidence. This is also essential if you want to be covered by ATOL or ABTA schemes. In doing so, this will give consumers more financial protection and flexibility, should anything change as a result of the pandemic.
"It is necessary to follow the FCDO’s travel guidance as you’ll find that most policies will not cover you if you ignore their advice, travel and then try to submit a claim later on – it will invalidate your claim.’
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