When the foreign travel list will be updated - and the countries that could move to the green list
International travel has now resumed across the UK, with a new traffic light system currently in force.
The system, which was introduced along with a further easing of lockdown restrictions earlier this month, divides countries into green, amber and red lists, with different rules applied to each.
Here’s what you need to know about how the system works, and when the travel list will be updated.
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How does the traffic light system work?
The traffic light system categorises countries into green, amber and red lists, with different quarantine restrictions applying to each.
For green listed countries, arrivals need to take a pre-departure Covid test, as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day two of their return to the UK.
However, travellers will not need to quarantine, or take any additional tests, unless they receive a positive result.
Arrivals from amber listed countries will need to quarantine for a period of 10 days at a designated place of their choosing and take a pre-departure Covid test, as well as a PCR test on or before day town and on or after day eight.
There will be an option to take an additional test on day five to end-self isolation early, except for those travelling to Scotland.
Arrivals from red listed countries must stay in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days, take a pre-departure Covid test and a PCR test on or before day two, and on or after day eight.
Travellers can only enter the UK from red list countries if they are British or Irish National, or have UK residence rights.
When will the travel lists be reviewed?
The UK government has said it will update the travel lists every three weeks, following an evaluation of the Covid-19 risk posed by different countries.
The next review is due to take place on Thursday 24 June, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps expected to make the announcement.
The government is yet to confirm an exact time for the announcement, but a spokesperson for the Department for Transport has said the update is not expected to come until after 4pm at the earliest..
The third review will take place three weeks after this on 15 July, just before the restrictions end in England.
With the lifting of all lockdown restrictions now delayed until 19 July in England, today’s (24 June) review is unlikely to include any significant changes to the travel lists, with large-scale overseas travel not expected to be allowed before the end of July.
As such, the review on 5 August is likely to see more travel open up to popular holiday destinations.
What criteria will be looked at?
The decision on which countries are added to each list is based on a range of criteria, taking into account public health advice and the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s assessment of the latest Covid data.
The criteria for the lists includes:
- The percentage of a country’s population that have been vaccinated
- The rate of infection
- The prevalence of variants of concern
- The country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing
Will more countries be added to the green list?
Malta and the Balearic Islands, which include the holiday spots of Mallorca and Ibiza, are said to be among a “handful” of places being considered for a move to the green list, according to the Times.
People arriving in the UK from green list destinations are not required to self-isolate, but there are currently no viable major tourist destinations in that tier.
A swathe of popular summer holiday hotspots are currently on the amber list, including Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, all of which have a 10-day quarantine period for travellers returning from these destinations to the UK.
However, holidays to Europe and the US may not be allowed until the end of July at the earliest, with minister said to be holding off opening up overseas travel more widely untile the vaccine rollout reaches 18-year-olds, and the Delta Covid variant has been brought under control.
Transatlantic travel is also unlikely to resume until at least August as the spread of the Delta variant is causing concern among American health officials. However, a “Transatlantic Travel Taskforce” has been established between the UK and US, which is expected to report in a few weeks.