The UK government on Friday announced that international travel will gradually resume from May 17, allowing citizens to travel for non-essential reasons (leisure) to ‘green’ list countries without having to quarantine upon return to England.
Greece is not on the announced ‘green’ list and has been included on the ‘amber’ list, meaning that restrictions will apply to people returning to England after visiting the country.
Speaking during a Downing Street press conference, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps outlined how strict border control measures will remain in place as international travel gradually resumes.
As explained by Shapps, different levels of restriction will be applied to individuals returning to England from countries based on the traffic light system set out by the Global Travel Taskforce.
The UK’s traffic light system categorises countries based on risk alongside the restrictions required for travel. Restrictions for inbound passengers, such as 10-day managed quarantine, home quarantine, and stringent testing will remain in place – but will apply to people differently depending on whether the destination visited is categorised as ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’.
People traveling to countries on the ‘green’ list will need to only take a pre-departure test up to 72 hours before their return travel, and a single PCR test on or before day 2 of arrival into England. However, they will not have to quarantine upon return (unless they have tested positive).
The following 12 countries and territories are on the UK’s ‘green’ list: Portugal; Israel; Singapore; Australia; New Zealand; Brunei; Iceland; Gibraltar; Falkland Islands; Faroe Islands; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; and St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island.
“Our priority remains to protect public health, which is why the ‘green’ list is currently very small, with only 12 countries and territories. As the epidemiological situation improves worldwide, it is expected that there will be more opportunities for leisure travel with a greater number of destinations added,” Shapps said.
‘Amber’ and ‘Red’ lists
Strict rules on testing and quarantine will remain in place for people arriving to England from countries on the ‘amber’ and ‘red’ lists “to protect public health and our vaccination programme”, Shapps said, adding that people should not travel to ‘amber’ and ‘red’ countries for leisure.
Greece, Cyprus on England’s ‘amber’ list
Greece and Cyprus are on the ‘amber’ list, meaning that those returning from the two countries to England will have to (home) quarantine for 10 days.
More specifically, arrivals to the UK from ‘amber’ countries will need to quarantine for a period of 10 days and take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 with the option for Test to Release on day 5 to end self-isolation early.
Arrivals from ‘red’ countries will be subject to restrictions which include a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and PCR testing on day 2 and 8.
During the press conference, Shapps announced that the Maldives, Nepal and Turkey will be added to the red list from 4am Wednesday, May 12.
It is noted that passengers coming from any destination will still be required to fill out a passenger locator form (PLF) before traveling back to England.
England’s ‘green’, ‘amber’ and ‘red’ lists will be reviewed every 3 weeks, informed by public health advice, including the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s assessment of the latest data.
“These regular review points will allow the government to balance helping the public to understand COVID requirements when travelling to England while allowing us to constantly evaluate the risk for different countries,” Shapps said.
He added that a green watchlist will also be published in the future, to provide an indication when a country is identified as a candidate for moving from one list to another.
Click here for all ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’ list rules for entering England.
IATA: ‘The green list is very disappointing’
Following the announcement of England’s green list of countries, the director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Willie Walsh, expressed his disappointment via twitter.
IATA Director General Willie Walsh on UK ‘Green Light’ destinations:
— IATA (@IATA) May 7, 2021
WTTC: ‘The UK is being too cautious’
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) said it welcomes the first initial step by the UK government to begin opening the door to international travel, but said the country was being too cautious.
“Holidaymakers and business travellers will be disappointed by today’s news, with so few countries on the ‘green list’, while Europe steals a march on the UK by continuing to open up and welcome visitors back,” WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevera said.
She added that the WTTC is disappointed that UK travellers are expected to pay for expensive PCR tests, even when traveling from countries on the green list.
“This will make foreign holidays totally unaffordable for many families,” she said.