RECAP: Transport secretary announces UK travel green list at Downing Street press conference

The Government’s transport secretary has announced which countries will be on the green travel list under the new traffic light system for overseas travel.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 1:47 pm
Updated Friday, 7th May 2021, 6:16 pm
Grant Shapps is set to hold a press conference this evening (Getty Images)

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps revealed the UK’s traffic light travel lists at the 5pm press briefing today, Friday, May 7 as lockdown restrictions continue to ease.

Many people have been eagerly awaiting an update on the rules for foreign holidays after overseas leisure travel from the UK was banned under coronavirus rules.

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Destinations will be categorised as red, amber or green, with different quarantine and testing requirements.

The Government is due to publish the list later today, but there is speculation the green list could include Portugal, Malta, Gibraltar and Israel.

Sunny summer favourites such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece are expected to be on the amber list initially but a “checkpoint” review on June 28 could switch some countries to the green list.

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Travellers planning a trip to a green listed country will not need to self-isolate, and will only need one post-arrival test.

But people entering England from an amber country must quarantine at home for at least five days, and take a minimum of two post-arrival tests, while those returning from a red list country must stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £1,750.

Destinations are likely to require holidaymakers to show evidence they have received a coronavirus vaccine or taken a recent negative test.

Assessments for the traffic light system will be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Many popular destinations have expressed their desire for the return of UK holidaymakers this summer – Portugal hopes tourists will return in May, while Spain is planning to reopen for international visitors in June.

Scroll down for live updates on the press briefing:

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Foreign travel press briefing, Friday, May 7

Last updated: Friday, 07 May, 2021, 18:14

  • The transport secretary Grant Shapps is expected to reveal the UK’s traffic light travel lists at 5pm.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that May 17 is the earliest date that overseas leisure travel will be allowed.
  • Destinations will be categorised as red, amber or green, with different quarantine and testing requirements.

The transport secretary says the list will be reviewed every three weeks from reopening

The Transport Secretary told a Downing Street press conference: “Green list countries will be placed on a watch list.

“If we start to have any concerns, and if it is necessary because of a new upswing in cases or a new variant, we will not hesitate to act fast and withdraw green status.”

He added: “Our strong advice is not to book any holiday which does not include a refund in the event that the Covid-related situation changes and you’re able to cancel.

“I’m afraid we do expect longer delays at airports.”

Here is the green travel list

Green list countries:

Portugal including the Azores and Madeira

Australia

New Zealand

Singapore

Brunei

Iceland

Faroe Islands

Gibraltar

Falkland Islands

Israel

Grant Shapps said travellers should not book holidays that do not include a refund policy

The Transport Secretary told a Downing Street press conference: “Green list countries will be placed on a watch list.

“If we start to have any concerns, and if it is necessary because of a new upswing in cases or a new variant, we will not hesitate to act fast and withdraw green status.”

He added: “Our strong advice is not to book any holiday which does not include a refund in the event that the Covid-related situation changes and you’re able to cancel.

“I’m afraid we do expect longer delays at airports.”

The Border Force’s Paul Lincoln said it was taking on average “five to 10 minutes” to check each passenger arriving into the UK

He said: “For the time being, passengers will need to accept an increase in the time taken at each stage of their journey.

“It currently takes a Border Force officer five to 10 minutes to complete all the necessary checks, which means that even for the most compliant passenger, it might take 14 or 15 times longer to process than before, compared to around 25 seconds.

“Where people do not have the correct paperwork it can and has taken considerably longer, including when we need to serve fixed penalty notices for non-compliance.”

The Government’s green list of holiday destinations is not larger because other nations need to “catch up” with their vaccine rollout

Grant Shapps told a Downing St press conference: “The reason there aren’t more places on the list is there aren’t more places that are in the fortunate position that the United Kingdom has got itself in.

“It is simply that the rest of the world needs a bit of time to catch up with our more fortunate vaccine position before we’ll be able to open up travel to those locations.”

Mr Shapps said the Joint Bio Security Centre would review Covid data on other countries every three weeks.

There will also be “checkpoints” to assess the requirements for countries categorised as green, amber and red.

Grant Shapps said he did not envisage having to “go back to those bad old days”

Asked whether future localised outbreaks could see people from some regions banned from travelling, the Transport Secretary said: “As we come out of this lockdown, we’ve got this four-stage road map and, as you will have noted, we haven’t gone back into a tiered situation.

“That’s possible actually because, overall, our levels are so much lower and where they are low overall, where prevalence is low, you are able to take a much more national approach to all of this.

“I very much hope that we are not going back to those bad old days of very high levels of enormous prevalence and the rest of it, because we’ve got the one thing we didn’t have when we got down to these very low levels last time around, and that is of course the vaccine.

“We are much better positioned this year with vaccines, with testing, with genomic sequencing, to not need to take that localised approach and so far, so good.”

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