Which countries could be added to the green list next?

Jul 30, 2021

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.


There are currently 29 countries and territories on the U.K. government’s coveted green list for travel without the need for any quarantine on your return to the U.K. As the European summer travel season continues, hardly any of the usual popular destinations like Spain and Greece are included on the current green list.

They — like 141 other countries — were placed on the amber list.

However, there was some good news from 19 July. If you were fully vaccinated in the United Kingdom, you do not need to quarantine on your return to the U.K. from an amber list country. This essentially turns amber countries green if you are fully vaccinated. Additionally, as of 4 a.m. on 2 August, those who were fully vaccinated in the U.S. or EU can skip quarantine in the U.K. if arriving from an amber country.

Related: Government scraps quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated amber arrivals from 19 July

However, if you are not vaccinated, you might be wondering which countries could become green at the next list update.

With a small green list right now, which destinations could be added next?

In This Post

When will the green list be updated?

The next review of the traffic light system is currently scheduled for Thursday, 5 August 2021, with any changes to the lists likely to take effect from Monday, 9 August.

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. This may be because several countries that have significantly lower new infection rates per capita than the United Kingdom, low or no rates of the highly infectious delta variant and well-progressed vaccination rates have never been on the green list.

Poland, for example, has a low seven-day new infection rate is 1.9 cases per 100,000 people, versus the U.K.’s rate of 397.3 cases. The country has also fully vaccinated 45% of its population.

However, Poland remains on the amber list suggesting there is no single benchmark for countries to be added to this list no matter how good a country’s numbers are.

Cloth Halls and Mary’s Church at Historic Krakow Market Square in the Morning, Poland. (Photo by Jacek Sopotnicki / Getty Images)

Some destinations are where they are for other reasons. The United Arab Emirates has one of the most advanced vaccination programmes in the world (70% of adults are fully vaccinated at the time of publication), though the UAE is currently 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.

Related: All 60 countries that are on the UK’s travel red list

Which countries may be added next?

Based on the fact that several countries were added to the green list at the last review, there is a good chance some more countries could be added on 5 August.

Related: Everything you need to know about transiting through European airports during the pandemic

Travel analyst Paul Charles from The PC Agency has identified the following countries that he feels should already be added to the green list based on their pandemic statistics, so may be added at the next review:

  • Austria;
  • Bosnia;
  • Canada;
  • Czech Republic;
  • Hungary;
  • Italy;
  • Latvia;
  • Lithuania;
  • Poland;
  • Romania;
  • San Marino;
  • Slovakia and
  • Slovenia.

What about the Amber Plus list?

While fully vaccinated British travellers can skip quarantine on their return from an amber country, there is a special amber plus list, which is an exception to this rule.

Anyone returning from an amber plus list must still follow the 10-day self-isolation rules for amber countries, whether they are fully vaccinated or not. France is currently the only country on the amber plus list though The PC Agency fears Spain and Greece could both be added to this list at the next review.

The Independent feels Spain has a higher chance than Greece of being added to the amber plus list, particularly the Balearic islands.

What about the United States?

The United States is a huge tourism market for British travellers, especially over the summer months. With almost 50% of Americans already fully vaccinated, travel operators had hoped the U.S. would move from amber to green at the recent G7 summit in Cornwall, where President Biden and Prime Minister Johnson had met in person to discuss this and had the opportunity to make a joint announcement.

Unfortunately, the G7 came and went with no announcement.

From 4 a.m. on 2 August, fully vaccinated Americans can enter the United Kingdom without the need to quarantine. Unfortunately, the United States is still banning British travellers from entering for non-essential reasons, regardless of their vaccination status.

(Photo by Teresa Barajas via Unsplash)

Bottom line

Each update to the traffic light list has brought a mixture of excitement and disappointment.

Very low seven- and 14-day new infection rates per capita, good vaccination rollouts and little to no delta variant cases would be logical criteria to make the green list, however, destinations that meet all of these criteria remain frustratingly on the amber list.

For those fully vaccinated, the prospect of countries moving from amber to green is less relevant, as Brits no longer need to follow self-isolation rules from amber destinations. There is now the added concern of countries potentially moving to the new amber plus list.

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 photo by danilovi / Getty Images.

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