Brits will be able to travel to destinations including Portugal and Israel from 17 May, transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced.
He said that 12 countries, including the two above and as Gibraltar, would be on the government’s travel “green list”.
Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, and Iceland make up the rest of the list, as well as dependencies such as the Falklands.
However, some countries that many had hoped would be included missed out, including the USA and popular European destinations like Spain and Greece.
Shapps said that the list was “necessarily cautious”, but said he hoped more countries could be added later in the summer.
“We must make absolutely sure that countries we reconnect with are safe”, he said.
He added that the list would be reviewed in three weeks.
Today’s announcement was a boon for Brits who have endured a long winter of lockdown in the hopes of getting away this summer.
As was widely expected, there were only a small number of countries on the green list, with the majority of the world on the amber list at this stage.
Around 40 countries, including the whole of South America, India, and large swathes of Africa, remain on the red list.
Shapps added the Maldives, Turkey, and Nepal to the red list today.
Although the decision to open up travel was welcomed by travel firms, they also expressed concerns about the limited nature of the “green” list.
Commenting on the latest announcement on the reopening of international travel, Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said:
“This is a missed opportunity and with so few countries making it onto the Green list represents a reopening of air travel in name only.
“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.”
Gloria Guevera, President & CEO of World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) 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.
“However, airlines and the wider Travel & Tourism sector will be hugely disappointed that the U.S., 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 & Tourism markets in the world.
What are the rules?
- Green: Travellers returning from green countries have to take a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure, and then take a PCR test on or before the second day of their return to the UK (even if fully vaccinated). They will not have to quarantine.
- Amber: Holidaymakers returning from “amber” destinations have to isolate at home for 10 days. Amber travellers also have to take a test before departure and book and pay for two PCR tests on day two and day eight of their home quarantine. If they want to release quarantine early, they can pay for a PCR test on day five (but will still have to take the test on the eighth day, as well).
- Red: Brits coming back from “red” countries have to quarantine for 10 days in hotels chosen by the government. The stay costs £1,750 per person, with pre-departure tests and tests on days two and eight.