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Just 12 destinations on travel ‘green list’

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Only four of the countries on the green list are in Europe, while several are out of bounds to travellers.

The government has confirmed the countries and territories on the long-awaited green list from which travellers can return to England without having to quarantine from 17 May.

But the list has been disappointing for holidaymakers and the travel industry as most popular European holiday hotspots such as France, Greece, Italy and Spain, are not included.

The green list

Destinations on the green list are:

  • Portugal
  • Israel
  • Singapore
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Brunei
  • Iceland
  • Gibraltar
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island

Portugal is the only large holiday destination from the continent on the list. Some countries on the list, such as Australia and New Zealand, are not open to international tourists. Other destinations such as the South Sandwich Islands are largely inaccessible and don’t generally cater for tourists.

The list will be reviewed every three weeks, informed by public health advice, including the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s assessment of the latest data.

The government also announced that from 4am Wednesday 12 May, the Maldives, Nepal and Turkey will be added to the red list.

Border controls

From 17 May, 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.

Strict rules on testing and quarantine will remain in place, with passengers warned to expect additional checks and longer queues at the border.

Border Force will be checking that arriving passengers have complied with current health measures, and passengers can help reduce delays by completing all necessary requirements before entering the country.

Anyone arriving back in England from a green list country will need to take a pre-departure test up to 72 hours before their return travel, and a single PCR test on or before day two of arrival into England.

The government says people should still not travel to amber and red countries for leisure. Those returning from amber countries need to quarantine at home for 10 days, while arrivals from red list countries will need to book into managed hotel quarantine.

Vaccine passports

Some countries may require proof of vaccination status before permitting entry – and it’s up to travellers to check individual requirements.

From 17 May, people who have received both Covid jabs will be able to demonstrate their vaccination status via the NHS app. The government is working with the devolved administrations to ensure this facility is available to everyone across the UK.

Those without access to the app can request a letter from the NHS proving their vaccination status by calling 119 from 17 May.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “This is a new way of doing things, and people should expect travel to be different this summer – with longer checks at the borders, as part of tough measures to prevent new strains of the virus entering the country and putting our fantastic vaccine rollout at risk.”

What the experts say

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Thousands of people will now be looking to arrange a long-awaited holiday or visit loved ones overseas. Travellers will have an expectation that these new government rules should protect their health and their money, yet serious issues around lengthy airport queues and a broken testing system remain unresolved.

“Travellers should also be aware that there is still some financial risk involved in booking travel plans, depending on how you book and which company you choose. 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 before booking, as choosing the right provider could be the difference between getting hundreds of pounds back or just getting the runaround.”