The Government might give two weeks’ notice if a country is about to removed from its ‘green’ travel list due to concerns over rising cases of coronavirus or new variants.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs yesterday that the Government ‘would flag perhaps a couple of weeks in advance’ if a country might change colour under the new risk-based traffic light system being introduced for foreign travel.
The Government is expected to announce within the next two weeks which countries will be on the green list, allowing quarantine-free holidays once the ban on foreign holidays is lifted, which will be on 17 May at the earliest.
Initially, there are likely to be very few, but this is expected to increase during the summer as countries roll-out their vaccination programmes.
There has been concern, however, that some green countries could suddenly move to amber, which would require holidaymakers to self-isolate on returning home. A country moving from amber to red would require them to pay to quarantine for 10-days in a Government-approved hotel.
The Government has previously announced that green countries that were causing concern would be placed on a watch-list, but it wasn’t know how much notice the industry would get before they were moved to amber.
Prior to the total ban on non-essential travel, the Government operated a system of travel corridors, which were sometimes removed with little or no notice, causing a scramble by tour operators to repatriate their customers.
Even Mr Shapps was caught out last summer when his own Government department removed the travel corridor with Spain just hours after he’d arrived in the country for a family holiday.
Mr Shapps told MPs he understood the concerns the traffic light system has raised, hence the plan to give as much notice as possible of any possible movement.
He also confirmed yesterday that all travellers will need to have a negative PCR COVID test to return to England, even from green countries. He said this will be reviewed at the end of June.