Which countries could be added to the green list next?
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.
Just 12 countries and territories made it onto the U.K. Government’s coveted first green list for travel without quarantine on your return to the U.K. last month. As the European summer travel season commences, hardly any of the usual popular destinations like Spain and Greece were included in the current green list; they were placed on the amber list.
While the inclusion of Portugal to the list was welcome, many people were disappointed and hoping their summer travel destination would be added sooner rather than later.
Some travel commentators expected Malta, for example, to be on the green list rather than the amber list. That country has had low COVID-19 infection rates and made good progress on its vaccination program. Per capita, its 14-day new infection rates are significantly lower than Portugal is currently experiencing. Malta has had no COVID-19 deaths in the past 14 days.
Caribbean islands were also unexpectedly absent from the list despite their effective management of the pandemic. Barbados has a lower new infection rate per capita than any country in the EU/EEA.
When will the green list be updated?
The next review of the traffic light system is currently scheduled for 7 June 2021, and it is hoped more destinations will be added to the green list rather than taken off it. The Independent, however, suggests the list will be reviewed on 3 June, with changes to take place from 10 June.
What are the requirements to join the green list?
The U.K. Government has not published the official requirements needed to be added to the green or amber lists.
For example, the United Arab Emirates has one of the most advanced vaccination programs in the world (almost 40% of adults are fully vaccinated at the time of publication), though the UAE is currently squarely on the red list, requiring mandatory hotel quarantine on return to the United Kingdom. One of the main reasons for this is because, despite its vaccination programme, the UAE operates major global transit airports in Dubai (DXB) and Abu Dhabi (AUH), where passengers from high-risk countries regularly mix with passengers from low-risk countries.
Bahrain has given around half of its adult population at least one dose of vaccination against COVID-19, a very similar level to the United Kingdom. Bahrain remains on the amber list, however.
Which countries may be added next?
The Telegraph reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told MPs that the following countries may be added to the green list following the next review on 7 June:
- Cayman Islands
- British Virgin Islands
- Antigua and Barbuda
- St Kitts and Nevis
- Turks and Caicos
If these countries listed above are added, it will provide far more options for summer travel than the small and somewhat obscure green list that has already formally been announced. Several destinations on the green list are either not allowing British tourists (such as Israel and New Zealand) or cannot be reached without transiting an amber or red list country, in the case of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan Da Cunha.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has also recently said more destinations should be added to the green list soon, though he did not specify which countries or territories may be added and when.
Unfortunately, The Telegraph suggests Spain, Greece and Italy, as a whole, will not be added to the green list at the next review.
Will countries be split by regions?
Currently, each European country is currently listed once on the green/amber/red lists, rather than splitting between different regions, which may have different infection and vaccination rates. This is in contrast to the travel corridors of last summer, where, for example, some Greek islands did not require quarantine on return to the U.K., while others did.
The Canary Islands in Spain have a much lower rate of new infections than mainland Spain. Their remote location allows the islands to control arrivals and departures more easily than landlocked EU countries with open borders.
Aviation Minister Tobert Courts told MPs this week that “The government will take an island approach for border measures where possible.” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested this could mean the Canary and Balearic Islands of Spain could be split from mainland Spain and potentially be added to the green list at some stage.
What about the United States?
The United States is a huge tourism market for British travellers, especially over the summer months. With more than 135 million Americans already fully vaccinated, travel operators are hoping the US will move from amber to green at the next review on 7 June, or a few days later when U.S. President Joe Biden arrives in Cornwall for the G-7 Summit.
Unfortunately, the latest news from the White House is that “there were no changes in travel restrictions planned at the moment”.
There are no guarantees as to which destinations may be added to the green list at any stage. Indeed, countries already on the green list could be moved to the amber or red list even before a list review if something goes terribly wrong, though Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has promised U.K. travellers will be given a week’s notice to return from a destination before it changes colour, if possible.
Based on reports by various media outlets, it’s likely more destinations will be added to the green list at the next review rather than taken off it.
If you are gambling on a certain destination being added to the green list before you travel there this year, ensure you are aware of the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy, as travelling to an amber country against government advice may invalidate your travel insurance policy.
Featured image by Paul Biris
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