Grant Shapps reveals countries on UK's red and green lists
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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced Portugal and Gibraltar are among the areas that have made it on to the green list when travel restarts from May 17. But some other popular holiday hotspots such as France, Spain and Greece have been left off. And most of the countries that have been given the all-clear by the UK are closed to foreign visitors, such as Australia and New Zealand, or have very severe restrictions.
Mr Shapps warned there will be long delays at airports and that travellers should only book holidays that include a refund policy if the country’s Covid situation changes.
He said the green list will be reviewed every three weeks and added: “We in this country have managed to construct a fortress against Covid.
“But the disease is still prevalent in other parts of the world, most notably in India.
“In fact, more new cases of Covid have been diagnosed around the world in the last seven days than at any time since the pandemic began. That’s why today’s announcement is necessarily cautious.
“We must make absolutely sure that the countries we reconnect with are safe, that their infection rates are low and their vaccination rates are high.”
Green countries will be placed on a watch list to flag up potential changes in status to travellers.
Mr Shapps said: “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.
“Our strong advice is not to book any holiday which does not include a refund in the event that the Covid-related situation changes.”
Travellers returning to the UK from green list areas have to take a Covid test but are not required to isolate.
But the list includes Brunei, Faroe Islands, Falkland Islands, Israel, Gibraltar and Tristan da Cunha, which have severe restrictions on entry. And visitors to Singapore have to quarantine for 21 days on arrival.
Iceland allows travellers with vaccine certificates while South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands require permits.
Travel to Portugal is restricted but its ministers have said it will open up to Britons this month.
Mr Shapps said: “This is not a list generated and created to think about where people want to lie on beaches and then twist the science to fit it. That would be completely wrong.
“It would go against everything we have said.
“In fact, it would betray what everyone has gone through for the past year.”
Mr Shapps said football fans should not travel to Turkey, where the Champions League final is due to be held, because it is being put on the red list. The Government is in discussions with Uefa about moving the match to the UK.
The travel traffic light system classes countries as green, amber or red depending on Covid levels, vaccination rates and whether they have worrying variants.
Travellers from amber areas will have to quarantine at home while those from red zones will isolate at a hotel. All must take Covid tests.
Meanwhile, British Airways said it will lay on additional flights to Portugal. Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle said: “We’re pleased that our customers are able to start travelling again to some countries, including Portugal, and we’ve put on additional flights from London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh to Faro [in the Algarve]to help people get moving.
“It’s disappointing to hear that despite the stringent safeguards introduced for travel from amber list countries, the Government is suggesting travellers avoid these.
“We cannot stress more greatly that the UK urgently needs travel between it and other low-risk countries, like the US, to restart the economy, support devastated industries and reunite loved ones.”
Travel industry leaders said the limited changes to travel will “delay the industry’s recovery”.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel trade organisation ABTA, said: “This is a slower and more cautious approach than previously outlined by the Government and will delay the industry’s recovery.
“The Government must use the next review to open up travel to more destinations. We also need the Government to commit to supporting travel agents and tour operators through what will continue to be difficult times ahead.”
Border Force director general Paul Lincoln warned that wait times to enter the UK were likely to take longer than usual.
He said: “There will continue to be additional health checks for every person crossing our border and inevitably that means it will take longer for most people to enter the UK.” Meanwhile, Which? Travel warned that booking holidays after May 17 still carries “some financial risk”.
Editor Rory Boland said: “Several holiday companies and airlines remain under investigation for breaking the law last year and some have indicated they may do so again.
“In a summer when further disruption can be expected, travel companies must be honest about the risks holidaymakers may be taking on. Crucially, holidaymakers also need to do their research.”
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