Which countries could be on the UK’s green list?
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Non-essential international travel has been off the cards for months. As the U.K. has remained in a strict third lockdown since 5 January, Britons have been forced to dream of holidays abroad from the comfort of their sofa.
But, there is an end to lockdown in sight. And with that comes the possibility that we could soon get away to a sandy beach on holiday.
At this time, the date by which international travel could return is largely up in the air. Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled in his roadmap out of lockdown the earliest date international travel could return is 17 May. And in an address to the nation on 5 April, Johnson said he was still hopeful that date could happen — but yet, he advised Britons against booking summer holidays abroad.
While that announcement provided very little by way of confirmation for when we can expect to jet off to an international locale, it did provide some information of what summer travel may look like — whenever it’s allowed to happen.
The Global Travel Taskforce said on Monday that when travel does return, the government will implement a “traffic light system” for categorising countries based on their risk levels. The highest-risk countries will be categorised as red, medium-risk countries will be categorised as amber and the lowest-risk countries will be categorised as green.
That same Global Travel Taskforce team is expected to provide additional details for each level of the traffic light system this week. However, at this time, it’s believed that red countries will be an extension of the travel ban list as we’ve come to know it. Non-British nationals or residents travelling from red countries will not be permitted to enter the U.K. Those who are eligible to travel to the U.K. will be required to undergo a 10-day quarantine in a government-supervised hotel, which costs £1,750.
Those arriving from amber countries will likely be required to undergo a 10-day quarantine at home. They will likely also be required to undergo two tests during their quarantine: one on day two and one on day eight.
Meanwhile, those coming from the lowest-risk green countries will not need to quarantine for 10 days. However, they will still need to test two times: once prior to departure and once post-arrival.
This is a notable difference from summer 2020 when the U.K. employed a travel corridor policy, which permitted arrivals from low-risk countries to not have to quarantine or test at all. Some airline industry executives have highlighted that a two-test approach to the lowest-risk countries will price some families out of travelling abroad.
“The proposed two test system for the lowest risk ‘green’ countries adds unnecessary additional cost for customers,” EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said in a statement. “An expensive testing regime could mean travel is simply out of reach for many hard-working families this summer, reversing the clock and making flying for only the wealthy.”
The Global Travel Taskforce is expected to reveal more details about the traffic light system later this week. While we might not yet know which countries will appear at each traffic light level, we can use some past evidence to predict which destinations might be the safest bet.
Note that if summer 2020 is any indication, it’s entirely possible that the U.K. may list a certain destination as green, but that country’s government may determine that it will not allow Britons to enter. There are still plenty of details to work out regarding vaccine passports and whether or not travellers will have to show proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 status. It’s entirely likely that entry requirements will vary from country to country and will rely on the traveller to do their research.
While the government still advises against booking summer holidays abroad just yet, these are our guesses for which countries may appear on the lowest-risk green list. And as such, this isn’t an exhaustive list. We’ve taken into account destinations that have a lower case rate than the United Kingdom — 846 per million persons in the past fortnight, according to John Hopkins University — or ones with a slightly higher rate that have been undergoing strong vaccination programmes.
Much of southern Africa still remains on the U.K.’s current travel ban list — or red list. It’s unlikely that there will be much movement to that list in the next few weeks as variants continue to be a concern.
Americas and Caribbean
- United States of America
All of South America remains on the U.K.’s current travel ban list — or red list. It’s unlikely that any country on the continent will reach a green level by the time Britons are permitted to travel again. However, it’s likely that we will see a number of Central American and Caribbean countries on the green list, given low infection rates and good vaccination programmes in the region.
- Sri Lanka
The United Arab Emirates is currently on the travel ban list. However, the country has produced good vaccination rates and a reduced infection rate over the past few weeks. It’s possible that the country could be removed from the red list.
Australia and Pacific Islands
- New Zealand
Ultimately, it still remains to be seen exactly which destinations could be considered green. It’s widely believed some summer holiday hotspots such as Greece, France, Italy and Turkey could be given amber — or even red — status as variants of concern continue to alarm.
However, some of those destinations have made clear that they plan to let Britons in this summer. Greece, for example, has said that tourists will be able to enter from 14 May. With an amber distinction from the U.K. government, that would mean travellers would have to think about and plan for a quarantine on return home.
This is a developing situation and one that will likely change often. There’s one thing for certain: Travel this summer will carry with it another level of risk. If, for example, where you’re holidaying suddenly changes from amber to red, you’ll have to worry not only about quarantining for 10 days, but paying at least £1,750 in order to do so in a government-approved hotel.
We’ll continue to follow the developments in the traffic light system and keep this list updated.
Featured photo by Anna Bryukhanova/Getty Images.
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