WHERE CAN I GO ON HOLIDAY FROM MAY 17? THE GREEN LIST
Britons will be able to travel quarantine-free to 12 countries and territories from May 17.
- Portugal, including the Azores and Madeira
- New Zealand
- Faroe Islands
- Falkland Islands
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
- Israel and Jerusalem
British holidaymakers will be able to head to Portugal, Gibraltar and nine other destinations without quarantining on their return from May 17, Grant Shapps confirmed today.
The Transport Secretary unveiled his long-awaited ‘green list’ at a Downing Street briefing tonight, insisting we must make ‘absolutely sure’ that the countries we reconnect with are ‘safe.’
Holidaymakers returning from this 12-strong list will not be required to quarantine on arrival in England, instead taking two Covid tests – one within three days of their return flight and another two days later.
But Mr Shapps tonight warned that ‘green list’ destinations will remain on a ‘watch list’ as he reserved the right to take them off again if there is a spike in local infections.
He added the plan was ‘necessarily cautious’, saying: ‘We must make sure that the countries we reconnect with are safe.’
The countries on the ‘green list’ from May 17 are: Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; the Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; the Falkland Islands; and Israel.
But two of those countries, Australia and New Zealand, will not currently allow British visitors to enter.
There was a blow for football fans as Turkey was added to the red list just weeks before Manchester City and Chelsea battle out he Champions League final in Istanbul.
The Maldives and Nepal have also been added to the red list.
People returning from those countries after 4am on Wednesday will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.
Mr Shapps tonight confirmed that France, Spain and Greece, three top holiday destinations for Britons, were not yet ready to make the ‘green list’ on the new traffic light system that is being introduced.
He added that travellers were ‘crucial’ to rebuilding the UK’s economy following months in lockdown.
‘We want a summer in which, with the help of vaccines and testing, we can reunite family and friends, and travel to places we love,’ he said. ‘We want to start looking outward again. Whilst Covid has isolated us, travel unites us.’
Grant Shapps unveiled his long-awaited ‘green list’ at a Downing Street briefing tonight, insisting we must make ‘absolutely sure’ that the countries we reconnect with are ‘safe’
The countries on the ‘green list’ from May 17 are: Portugal including the Azores and Madeira; Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; the Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; the Falkland Islands; and Israel
Gibraltar, the British territory in the western Mediterranean, was on the green list
All the countries on the UK’s first green list have similarly low Covid infection rates, meaning the risk of travellers carrying cases between nations is low
He added: ‘Travellers are, of course, also absolutely crucial to rebuilding our economy, bringing long-awaited relief to hard-hit airlines, airports, the tourism sector, which taxpayers have spent £7 billion in supporting.’
The cost of flights to the Portuguese capital today surged by more than 25 per cent after it was confirmed the popular holiday hotspot will be on the travel ‘green list’.
Eager British holidaymakers rushed to book last minute getaways – despite Portugal being widely tipped for the list – with a return flight from Heathrow to Lisbon leaving on May 17 jumping in price from £264 to £332 in six hours.
British Airways tonight said it would be laying on additional flights to Portugal following the announcement that foreign travel can resume, but added it was disappointed with remaining restrictions for ‘amber’ countries.
Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle said: ‘We’re pleased that our customers are able to start travelling again to some countries, including Portugal, and we’ve put on additional flights from London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh to Faro to help people get moving.
‘What’s clear is that with high levels of vaccination in the UK being matched by other countries, we should see more destinations going ‘green’ before the end of June.
‘It’s disappointing to hear that despite the stringent safeguards introduced for travel from ‘amber list’ countries, the Government is now suggesting travellers avoid these.
WILL THE GREEN LIST COUNTRIES ACTUALLY LET US IN?
These are the current entry requirements for countries that will be on the UK’s green list from May 17. They may change before Britain permits foreign travel.
Portugal – Closed except to residents and essential travel, but tourism chief Rita Marques said: ‘We are really pushing hard to open up to countries like the UK.’
Australia – Closed except to visa holders and residents/citizens, and government appears unwilling to reopen the borders.
New Zealand – Closed except to visa holders and residents/citizens, or people with a ‘critical purpose to travel’. Country was keen to shut borders and is not likely to encourage or allow tourism any time soon.
Israel/Jerusalem – Foreign nationals not permitted unless in exceptional circumstances, but plans in place to allow vaccinated people and recovered Covid patients to visit.
Gibraltar – Travel only allowed for residents, citizens or people going for work, but is expected to open the doors to tourists soon.
Singapore – Visitors must get prior government permission to travel. Tourists are allowed from Hong Kong, signalling possible reopening.
Brunei – ‘Severely restricted’. Travellers must apply for permission from Prime Minister’s office and exit travel is banned.
Iceland – Travel is allowed from low risk countries. Covid testing and quarantine in place except for fully vaccinated people.
Faroe Islands – Denmark allows UK visitors ‘with a worthy purpose’. Holidaying not included
Falkland Islands – Permits only allowed for essential visitors. Tourism board is pushing for a reopening but the government is not yet keen.
South Georgia – Rules unclear. It is a remote destination in the Atlantic Ocean, close to Antarctica, with no roads and no airport.
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha – All arrivals must quarantine for 2 weeks. Only residents are allowed to travel to Tristan da Cunha.
Source: Foreign Office
‘We cannot stress more greatly that the UK urgently needs travel between it and other low-risk countries, like the US, to restart the economy, support devastated industries and reunite loved ones.’
EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren also called on the Government to provide ‘clarity’ about which countries could be added to its ‘green’ travel list later in the year.
He said: ‘The decision to put so few European countries into the green tier is simply not justified by the data or the science and is inconsistent with the approach to reopen the domestic economy.’
‘So, we call on Government to provide transparency on decision-making and clarity on when we can expect other European countries to join the green list so that consumers and airlines alike can plan for this summer.
‘In the meantime, they must drive down the cost of testing and review, and remove testing for green, low-risk countries. Green really should mean green.’
He said easyJet will be increasing its flights to green-list destinations and launching new routes where possible.
Holidaymakers to ‘green list’ countries will not have to quarantine on their return, but will still be required to take two tests, one within three days of flying back to the UK and another within 48 hours of arrival.
This will apply to vaccinated as well as unvaccinated passengers.
Tourists from amber countries will have to take a second post-arrival test on day eight as well as self-isolate at home for ten days. Arrivals from red countries will have to quarantine in hotels at their own expense for 11 nights.
The DfT also announced that from May 17, people who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine will be able to use the NHS app to demonstrate their status.
People who do not have the app will be able to request an NHS letter from that date.
Mr Shapps said travellers should not book holidays that do not include a refund policy if the country’s Covid situation changes.
The Transport Secretary said: ‘Green list countries will be placed on a watch list.
‘If we start to have any concerns, and if it is necessary because of a new upswing in cases or a new variant, we will not hesitate to act fast and withdraw green status.’
He added: ‘Our strong advice is not to book any holiday which does not include a refund in the event that the Covid-related situation changes and you’re able to cancel.
‘I’m afraid we do expect longer delays at airports.’
Border Force director general Paul Lincoln warned that wait times to enter the UK were likely to take longer than usual as the country switches to a traffic light system for international travel.
He said: ‘Unfortunately we are not back to normality yet.
‘Travel will be different and, as the Transport Secretary says, we still need to be cautious.
‘There will continue to be additional health checks for every person crossing our border and inevitably that means it will take longer for most people to enter the UK.
‘These measures have been put in place to protect the hard-fought gains and sacrifices that have been made by individuals and society in the UK, minimising the risk of importing variants while protecting the success of our vaccine rollout.’
Heathrow Airport’s chief executive said the Government must ‘urgently address the unacceptable situation’ at the UK border. John Holland-Kaye said: ‘Long immigration queues are an inevitable result of under-resourcing, not an inevitable result of extra checks.’
Despite the significant move forward in reopening the travel sector today, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) said many would be ‘hugely disappointed’ that the US and other nations are not on the Government’s travel ‘green list’.
President and CEO Gloria Guevera said: ‘We welcome this first initial step by the UK Government to begin opening the door to international travel with the announcement of today’s ‘traffic light’ system.
Britain’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jenny Harries, Britain’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Director General of Border Force Paul Lincoln take part in a virtual press conference
Mr Shapps tonight confirmed that France, Spain and Greece, three top holiday destinations for Britons, were not yet ready to make the ‘green list’ on the new traffic light system that is being introduced
‘However, airlines and the wider travel and tourism sector will be hugely disappointed that the US, which has a similar vaccination success rate, has not been included on the ‘green list’ as it would have enabled the resumption of transatlantic travel, which would have thrown a vital lifeline to the sector in two of the biggest travel and tourism markets in the world.’
She added: ‘While we understand that protecting public health should be the priority, the UK is being too cautious and risks losing its hard-won competitive advantage achieved by the early vaccine rollout by being too slow to allow the significant resumption of international travel.
‘Holidaymakers and business travellers will be disappointed by today’s news, with so few countries on the ‘green list’, while Europe steals a march on the UK by continuing to open up and welcome visitors back.’
Pilots’ union also Balpa accused Downing Street of an ‘excess of caution’ over its handling of the planned return of foreign holidays.
General secretary Brian Strutton said: ‘This excess of caution from the Government is extremely disappointing for everyone who works in the travel sector and the millions of people who are desperate to jet away on holiday or business.
Border Force director general Paul Lincoln warned that wait times to enter the UK were likely to take longer than usual as the country switches to a traffic light system for international travel
‘The huge success of the vaccine rollout in the UK, the ever-growing vaccination rates in Europe and the massive effort from everyone to make travel Covid-safe should have meant a much longer green list than what we’ve got today.
Travellers should expect longer waiting times at UK borders when ‘green list’ starts on May 17
Travellers should expect longer waiting times at UK borders as the Government switches to a traffic light system for international travel.
Border Force director Paul Lincoln said passengers must accept there will be increased delays at ‘each stage’ of their journey, with staff required to check ‘100%’ of all travellers coming through.
His comments came as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that 12 countries – including Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel – would be added to the Government’s green list for travel.
From May 17, people in England will be able to visit those destinations without having to enter quarantine on their return.
But Mr Lincoln told a Downing Street press conference on Friday that the introduction of health checks at the border meant it now takes, on average, five to 10 minutes for staff to process each passenger arriving into the UK.
He said: ‘For the time being, passengers will need to accept an increase in the time taken at each stage of their journey.
‘It currently takes a Border Force officer five to 10 minutes to complete all the necessary checks, which means that even for the most compliant passenger, it might take 14 or 15 times longer to process than before, compared to around 25 seconds.
‘Where people do not have the correct paperwork, it can and has taken considerably longer, including when we need to serve fixed penalty notices for non-compliance.’
Mr Lincoln said Border Force was still under instruction from ministers to check ‘100% of passengers’ but that it would be making some paperwork digital, such as the passenger locator form, in a bid to ‘speed up’ the process, while more staff would be made available to carry out checks.
Heathrow Airport’s chief executive said the Government must ‘urgently address the unacceptable situation’ at the UK border.
John Holland-Kaye said in a statement: ‘Long immigration queues are an inevitable result of under-resourcing, not an inevitable result of extra checks.’
‘Almost all tourist hotspots in Europe including Spain, France and Greece are in the amber category, which is as good as red as far as most tourists are concerns, with potential 10-day quarantine needed on return.
‘The Government has at least committed to review the categories regularly.
‘Tourists are sat gazing at the amber light, revving their engines, desperate to travel safe in the knowledge that their jabs will protect them. The Government must flick those amber lights to green as soon as it possibly can.
‘In particular, we must see the vital UK-US travel market open up which remains inexplicably closed despite America’s own tremendous vaccine success.’
Elsewhere, airline bosses urged the Government to make ‘major additions’ to their newly announced ‘green list’ at the next review point in three weeks time, adding the relaxed rules represent a ‘reopening of air travel in name only.’
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of the industry body which represents UK carriers, said: ‘By contrast, the EU has said vaccinated people will be able to travel without restrictions, which leaves the UK at risk of falling behind and not opening up international travel to key markets across Europe as well as the United States.
‘We strongly believe that, alongside the domestic economy, travel can be safely reopened and so we must see major additions to the green list at the next review point in three weeks, alongside a simpler and much-reduced testing burden so that travel does not become the preserve of the wealthy only.’
Others have warned that Boris Johnson’s ‘slower and more cautious’ approach to resuming international travel will ‘delay the travel industry’s recovery’.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel trade organisation ABTA, said: ‘Although it was good to hear the minister (Grant Shapps) say he wants people to be able to travel this summer, this is a slower and more cautious approach than previously outlined by the Government and will delay the industry’s recovery.
‘We understand that public health is the Government’s priority, and it was always expected that the return to international travel would be gradual, but the Government must use the next review to open up travel to more destinations, using the traffic light system to manage risk.
‘We also need the Government to commit to supporting travel agents and tour operators through what will continue to be difficult times ahead.
‘Travel will be one of the most restricted economic sectors coming out of the pandemic and this needs to be recognised through adequate grants to support these businesses.’
Conservative MP Huw Merriman said: ‘The resumption of international travel on May 17 will be welcomed by those who long to visit loved ones overseas, by UK Plc and by the hundreds of thousands of workers whose jobs and livelihoods rely on this industry.
‘Barriers remain in place for most of our popular destinations, notably most of Europe, which have been placed on the amber list.
‘This cautious approach means many will have to quarantine and face increased costs from testing; this will deter travel.
‘The promise to give transparency over methodology and data, regular reviews of the rule-set and country lists, as well as increased digitisation to open e-gates on passenger arrival, must act as a springboard for more countries to be within reach as the summer progresses.’
Tourists sunbathing in Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Faro district, Algarve, Portugal
Which countries are on the red and amber lists?
Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Congo (Democratic Republic), Ecuador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Guyana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Oman Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Afghanistan, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Azerbaijan, The Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech , Republic (Czechia), Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, French , Polynesia, Gabon, The Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece (including islands), Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nauru, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, North Macedonia, Norway, The Occupied Palestinian Territories, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, Poland, Réunion, Romania, Russia, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain (including the Balearics and Canary Islands), Sri Lanka, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Martin and St Barthélemy, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United States, Uzbekistan Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna, Western Sahara, Yemen.
Earlier this week, Mr Johnson warned that putting lots of countries on the travel ‘green list’ from May 17 could risk a jump in cases from abroad.
The Prime Minister has maintained Downing Street will be ‘cautious’, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and chief medical officer Chris Whitty said to be among those pushing for quarantine-free states to be kept to a minimum.
‘We do want to do some opening up on May 17 but I don’t think that the people of this country want to see an influx of disease from anywhere else,’ Mr Johnson said on Monday.
‘I certainly don’t and we have got to be very, very tough, and we have got to be as cautious as we can, whilst we continue to open up.’
Mr Johnson’s comments were met with scrutiny by travel experts, who claimed there is ‘no danger of an influx of disease’ into Britain considering the proposed precautions.
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, told MailOnline: ‘The reason why testing has to be done by every passenger pre-departure to the UK, and after arriving here, is to help weed out any infections or variants. There have been very few cases or variants in recent weeks since these measures were put in place.
‘The Prime Minister needs to focus on protecting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk in the travel and tourism sector, and open up overseas travel safely, and progressively, from May 17. ‘
Meanwhile Tui, the UK’s largest holiday company, announced it will offer customers coronavirus tests for a fraction of standard prices.
The cheapest package – aimed at people returning from green destinations – will be available for just £20, and consist of a lateral flow test and PCR test.
PCR tests alone typically cost £120 each, although several travel companies offer them for £60.
Tui said it is ‘subsidising the cost of testing to help customers travel again this summer’.
There are fears that testing requirements will make summer holidays unaffordable for many families by adding hundreds of pounds to the cost of a trip.