UK PM Johnson outlines 17 May date for possible return to international travel

Apr 5, 2021

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On Monday April 5, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the path for England to return to international travel. Johnson said the data suggests a gradual reopening can begin, but “We can’t be complacent.”

Still Johnson, is advising people not to book foreign holidays right now, “We’re hopeful,” but “we’ll be setting out what we think is reasonable.” He suggested that there would be final details soon.

He also said all countries are looking at vaccine passports, but he didn’t have anything new to report on vaccination certification for now.

Holiday-starved Britons may be able to get away on a holiday to destinations that are set to open their borders as soon as 17 May, but no guarantees at the moment.

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Johnson, said, “We see nothing in the present data that suggests we will need to deviate from our roadmap.”

The prime minister and his team say the country will introduce a traffic light system for international travel beginning as early as 17 May. Passengers coming from so-called “green” countries will not need to quarantine on their arrival back in the U.K., but they will need to test prior to and on the return from travel.

People from “red” or “amber” countries will still need to quarantine. The prime minister said it’s too early to list which countries get which color code, but those details will come soon.

“Red” countries are likely to be the same ones that are currently on the red travel ban list (there are 39 countries right now). And only British residents will be allowed in from those countries and they will still have to hotel quarantine.

Related: All the countries on the UK red list

Those who have been vaccinated, have had a recent negative test or can show proof they already had COVID-19 may be allowed to attend live events. There will be a test program in mid-April at nine upcoming gatherings. Those include Liverpool’s Hot Water Comedy Club, the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield and the FA Cup semi-final and final at Wembley.

Starting 12 April, non-essential shops, hairdressers and beauty salons can reopen. Outdoor restaurants and other hospitality venues can also reopen then limited to groups of six or larger groups from two or less households. Johnson said he would be going to a pub himself of 12 April and would raise a glass.

Just last week, Johnson announced that everyone in England would be able to get twice-weekly rapid coronavirus tests beginning 9 April.


Related: 4 things that need to happen before we can go on holiday

Johnson’s announcement will be followed with additional details that are set to be outlined on 12 April by the Global Travel Taskforce, led by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Related: What are vaccine passports and will the UK have them?

When Johnson first outlined England’s roadmap out of lockdown on 22 February, he outlined that the government will rely on “data, not dates” for reopening England. As such, the dates for a return to travel largely remained up in the air.

In the initial roadmap out of lockdown, Johnson said that some domestic holidays can resume from 12 April at the earliest, as holiday lets will be permitted to reopen. As of that 12 April date, the new Global Travel Taskforce was set to reveal their findings to the prime minister for a safe return to international travel. The earliest date for that return to international travel was said to be 17 May, though it could be pushed back.

Related: What does the roadmap out of lockdown mean for travel?

In the aftermath of that announcement, the beleaguered aviation and travel industries saw some immediate relief. Notably, travel providers saw booms in bookings by as much as 600%, showing that the pent-up demand from travellers is there.

Several airlines – specifically low-cost carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet — have announced that they plan a large summer season. In order to capitalise on the pent-up demand of travellers, they have announced new routes from the U.K. to Europe in anticipation of the return to international travel.

Related: Despite third wave fears, Ryanair expects to fly at 80% capacity in Europe this summer

It’s worth noting that 17 May is still more than a month away. If the third wave of the pandemic spreading across Europe continues at the same rate, it’s possible that England’s return to travel could be pushed back. Because of that reason, it’s still important to take note of the rebooking and cancellation policies on any travel you plan to book ahead of this summer season.

It’s also worth noting that Monday’s announcement applies to the resumption of international travel for England. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales largely have their own plans for a return to travel. However, if summer 2020 is any indication, we can expect to see similar travel corridors and policies between the devolved nations.

Additional reporting by Clint Henderson.

Featured image from news conference on Downing Street on April 5, 2021 in London, England by Stefan Rousseau-WPA Pool/Getty Images.

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