Holidays abroad have been out of the question in 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with all but absolutely essential travel banned. But now, the Government is finalising plans for international travel to resume in line with the roadmap out of lockdown.
Travel is currently on track to resume on May 17, with eager holidaymakers keen to fly to sunnier climates following months of winter lockdown.
Airlines and travel agents are accepting bookings for the summer period.
A senior government source said that ministers believe they can “keep tight controls in place at the border while taking a significant step forward on international travel”.=
When travel does resume, it will resume under a traffic light system, with countries split into three categories: green, amber and red.
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The categorisations will be decided based on the following criteria:
- The percentage of a country’s population which have been vaccinated
- The rate of infection
- The prevalence of variants of concern
- The country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
All levels will require coronavirus tests to take place, whether the holidaymaker has had a vaccine or not.
Those travelling to green countries will need to take a pre-departure test, as well as a PCR test on or before day two of their arrival back into the UK, but will not be required to quarantine at home or in a hotel.
Those travelling to amber countries will need to quarantine for 10 days when they return, as well as do the two tests above.
There will also be an option to take an additional test, which must be paid for, on day five of the isolation, which will allow travellers to be freed early from quarantine if it comes up negative.
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Those travelling from red list countries will need to quarantine in a designated, managed hotel when they return, at their own expense.
The Government is also looking at ways to reduce the price of tests, with PCR tests normally costing around £120 to £160.
A Government spokesperson said: “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.
“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.”
Which countries will be on which list?
The most recent update from the Department for Transport has indicated that lists of which country goes on which list has not yet been finalised.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said it is still “too early to predict which countries will be on which list over the summer.”
Travel experts believe most European countries will belong in the amber group, meaning quarantine upon one’s return from a European country is likely for the time being.
Among the countries believed to be on the green list, Israel, Jamaica, Barbados, Gibraltar and Grenada are likely to make the cut.
Finland and the Cayman Islands are also believed probable green countries according to some experts.
Popular holiday destinations like Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Croatia are all likely to be on the amber list.
India, which is currently battling a devastating second wave, is most likely to continue to be classified as a red list country, with the strictest travel protocols.
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