Seven new countries have this evening been added to the government’s “green list” for international travel, offering further hope for Brits looking to escape for the summer.
From Sunday at 4am, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the list of destinations from which all travellers need not isolate on return.
In addition, the government has scrapped its “amber plus” category, with arrivals from France no longer needed to isolate on return to the UK.
It said that it had taken the step because the proportion of Beta variant cases had now declined.
The “amber plus” category had caused uproar when it was introduced, but the government has now axed it in favour of the original green-amber-red system.
India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list as the situation in these countries has improved.
Ministers also advised all those looking to travel to Spain, as well as the Balearic and Canary Islands, to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test “wherever possible” as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
In certain circumstances, travellers are currently permitted to take antigen tests, but are now being warned off doing so.
The change in travel rules met with a mixed reaction from the travel and tourism industry, some of whom had hoped for a more extensive list of countries to be added to the “green list”.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, said: “This is another missed opportunity and with the summer season nearing its conclusion means international travel has not had anything like the reopening it was hoping for.
“This puts us at odds with our European neighbours and clearly does not represent the liberation of aviation that the Prime Minister has spoken of.
“Alongside the continuation of expensive testing and a much smaller than hoped for expansion of the green list – which makes less sense by the day given where we are with the vaccination programme – this is yet another blow to the sector and families desperate to get away, and means the UK continues to open up far slower than the rest of Europe.”
But the Business Travel Association (BTA) described the step as a “leap forward”.
“The Government has taken the right and strong decisions in abandoning plans for watchlists and removing France’s unique Amber Plus status”, chief executive Clive Wratten said.
“These were potentially calamitous moves which would have jeopardised the future of the whole travel and aviation supply chains.”