Covid: Balearics and Malta added to UK's green travel list

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Spain’s Balearic Islands, Madeira, Malta and Barbados are among the places being added to the UK’s green travel list, the transport secretary has said.

People entering the UK from 16 places will not have to quarantine from 04:00 on 30 June, Grant Shapps confirmed.

He also said the government intended to drop quarantine for fully vaccinated people returning from amber list countries “later in the summer”.

Six destinations have also been added to the government’s red list.

The travel industry welcomed the additions to the green list, but urged the government to go further.

The destinations added to the green list from 04:00 BST on 30 June are:

  • Europe: The Balearic Islands (which include Ibiza, Menorca, Majorca and Formentera), Malta and Madeira
  • Caribbean: Antigua, Barbados, Barbuda, Dominica and Grenada
  • UK overseas territories: Anguilla and Montserrat, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Pitcairn, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

The places added to the red lists for the same time are:

Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Haiti, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda.

Mr Shapps cautioned that all the additions to the green list, with the exception of Malta, had also been added to the green watch list, signalling that they are at risk of moving back to amber. Israel and Jerusalem have also been put on the watch list.

The Department for Transport said the plan to allow fully-vaccinated people to arrive from amber list countries without having to quarantine was expected to take place in phases, starting with UK residents.

The department also said it intended to remove the guidance that people should not travel to amber countries, and it would take clinical advice on whether regular testing could provide a safe alternative to quarantine for children accompanied by vaccinated adults.

A spokesman said further detail will be set out next month, including the rules for children and those unable to be vaccinated and the dates the changes will come into effect.

Graph showing cases rate in selected countries

Mr Shapps added: “We’re moving forward with efforts to safely reopen international travel this summer, and thanks to the success of our vaccination programme, we’re now able to consider removing the quarantine period for fully-vaccinated UK arrivals from amber countries – showing a real sign of progress.

“It’s right that we continue with this cautious approach, to protect public health and the vaccine rollout as our top priority, while ensuring that our route out of the international travel restrictions is sustainable.”

But Eluned Morgan, Wales’ minister for health and social services, said: “Our message is clear – this is the year to holiday at home. We’re calling on people to only travel overseas for essential reasons.”

On Thursday, the UK reported 16,703 cases and 21 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.

People enjoy warm weather at a beach in Menorca

image copyrightEPA

The prospect of European holidays also faces another hurdle after German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested all EU countries should make British travellers quarantine on arrival to slow the spread of the Delta variant.

Mrs Merkel told Germany’s parliament: “In our country, if you come from Great Britain, you have to go into quarantine – and that’s not the case in every European country, and that’s what I would like to see.”

French President Emmanuel Macron also spoke of his concern at the spread of the variant.

“We should all be vigilant because the Delta variant is coming,” he said on Thursday.

“We see that it affects people who have not yet been vaccinated or who have only had one dose, which means we have to be even faster in this vaccination campaign.”

Those going to Italy have to self-isolate for five days then take a test, while fully-vaccinated UK visitors to France can enter without quarantining.

Most holiday hotspots are currently on the amber list, including France, Italy and mainland Spain, meaning travellers returning to the UK have to self-isolate for 10 days, as well as pay for tests.

‘Cannot afford another missed summer’

The travel industry welcomed the expansion of the green list but warned it was not enough to help the sector recover from the pandemic.

Sean Doyle, chief executive officer of British Airways said: “We cannot afford another missed summer. There are jobs at stake, Britons separated from family members and we cannot afford to allow the success of our vaccine programme to be wasted.”

He added that plans to allow vaccinated people to travel more freely this summer were “critical” and urged the government to work with the aviation industry to set this up.

Matthew Fell, the Confederation of British Industry’s chief UK policy director, said the additions to the green list “won’t be enough to salvage the summer season for the international travel sector”.

He said: “The UK’s successful vaccine rollout means we should be in the vanguard of safely restarting international travel. Other countries are already pressing ahead with enabling travel for the fully vaccinated.”

Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said the expanded travel green list “fails to go far enough”, adding that the US should have been added to it.

He said quarantine should be removed for fully vaccinated passengers arriving from amber and green countries “no later” than 19 July.

But Rory Boland, travel editor of consumer magazine Which?, said travellers still needed to be “extremely cautious” about booking trips abroad with the rules on international travel changing regularly.

“Most providers will not pay refunds if a country is moved from green to amber, and ‘free’ amendments are often anything but, with many companies requiring significant notice of any changes and bookings for new dates usually costing hundreds of pounds,” he said.

Table showing how the UK Covid case numbers compare

Earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was a “real opportunity” to open travel this summer for those who have had two jabs.

Asked about the prospect of a change to travel rules, Mr Johnson said: “The most important thing is that we think double jabs do offer a good way forward, we think they offer the hope of travel this summer.

“More than 60% of our population have now had two jabs, I think 83% have had one jab, we’re really getting through it now. The crucial thing is, come forward and get your second jab,” he said.

The UK government reviews which countries are on which list every three weeks.

There will also be a “checkpoint” review of the rules for each category on Monday 28 June.

Graphic showing how the traffic light system for arrivals will work

On Wednesday, workers in the industry, including cabin crew, pilots, travel agents and airport staff, held a series of protests against the rules.

Industry body Abta, representing travel agents and tour operators, estimated 195,000 travel jobs have been lost during the pandemic or are at risk.

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