The Government has confirmed that foreign travel will reopen under a traffic light system this summer.
Countries will be split into three categories; green, amber or red, depending on how high-risk they are.
Destinations on the “green list” will have high vaccination rates and low case numbers, as well as low instances of variants of concern.
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Those on the “red list” will be nations with high rates of such variants, including the South African and Brazilian strains of the virus.
How will the traffic light system work?
The lists will be decided based on the following criteria:
- 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
Here are the rules that will be in place for each list:
- Green: arrivals will need to take a pre-departure test as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day two of their arrival back into the UK – but will not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) or take any additional tests
- Amber: arrivals will need to quarantine for a period of 10 days and take a pre-departure test, as well as a PCR test on day two and day eight. There will be the option to take an additional test on day five to end self-isolation early
- Red: arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for red list countries which include a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and mandatory PCR testing on day two and eight
The Government has been looking at ways to reduce the price of testing, with PCR tests generally costing around £120-160.
In recent weeks, some of these prices have been slashed, the UK’s largest provider Randox announcing it would cut its offerings to £60 for international travellers.
“We will work with the travel industry and private testing providers ahead of international travel reopening, to see how we can further reduce the cost of travel for the British public, while ensuring travel is as safe as possible,” a Government spokesperson said.
“This could include cheaper tests being used when holidaymakers return home, as well as whether the Government would be able to provide pre-departure tests.”
Under England’s lockdown roadmap, international travel is banned until at least 17 May.
The final decision will not be made until closer to that date, but a spokesperson for Boris Johnson has previously suggested: “There is nothing in the data that suggests we need to change the dates.”
Which countries could be on the green list?
The Government is yet to provide any details about which countries could be on the green list.
“It is too early to say which countries will be on the green list when non-essential international travel resumes,” the Government said.
“These decisions will be driven by the data and evidence nearer the time, which we cannot predict now. In advance of the resumption of non-essential international travel, we will set out our initial assessment of which countries will fall into which category.
“Thereafter countries will move between the red, amber and green lists depending on the data.”
According to research by The PC Agency, which calculates its predicted lists “based on vaccine rates, infection rates, evidence of variants and data quality”, Brits will face limited travel options when the list is unveiled.
Paul Charles, the travel consultancy’s CEO, lists the following countries as being green list candidates as the data stands:
The vast majority of popular European destinations, are on the amber list, according to the agency’s calculations, a significant roadblock for tourists hoping to visit the likes of France, Italy, Spain and Greece, with Turkey also looking likely to miss out.