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‘Traffic light’ system to be introduced for international travel

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Countries will be placed into different colour bands through a new ‘traffic light’ system for international travel, the government has confirmed.

There will then be different rules for holidaymakers and travellers over what they need to do before their trip depending on the colour band of their destination.

Following last night’s press conference from the Prime Minister ‒ at which he confirmed the re-opening of non-essential retail from 12 April ‒ a statement from the government was issued, which outlined that when travel is once again permitted, it will be under a “risk-based traffic light system”.

However, the Prime Minister had been at pains to emphasise that Brits should not yet book foreign summer holidays as there is no guarantee that the ban on foreign travel will be lifted on 17 May, in part due to the resurgence of  Covid-19 on the continent.

Heading off abroad without a good reason before then could land you a £5,000 fine too.

How will the traffic light system work?

Under the traffic light system, countries will be placed in one of three colour categories: red, amber and green.

Green is the safest category, and will mean that travellers do not need to self-isolate on returning to the UK. They will still be required to carry out Covid tests before heading off on the trip and after arriving at their destination however.

The government emphasised that it is currently too early to say which countries will be on the green list.

We still don’t have firm details over how the amber and red categories will work, though it has been predicted that red nations will mean hotel quarantine on return, and amber will mean travellers have to self-isolate on return.

We should know more once the government’s Global Travel Taskforce publishes its report later this week.

Will I be left out of pocket?

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, pointed out that the cost of private tests may mean that millions of would-be travellers are priced out of holidays, and called on the government to look at ways to reduce these costs.

He added: “With the government confirming countries will move between the red, amber and green lists, it is also crucial that travellers know that they won’t be left out of pocket when changes do take place. We’re likely to face a summer of further disruption as health situations fluctuate, so airlines and holiday companies should be upfront about the risks and the disruption their flexible booking policies do and don’t cover.”

There have also been concerns over the varying levels of Covid cover provided by different travel insurance policies.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of the travel association ABTA, agreed that it was vital that clarification was provided on how the transition between green, amber and red levels will work, adding: “Destinations should not be suddenly closed off unless variants of concern dictate that this must happen.

“The goal must be to have unrestricted travel to ‘green’ destinations. At present the costs of testing may be a deterrent to many UK travellers, so the Government must ensure that testing is required only where the public health risk justifies it, and that a cost-effective and efficient testing regime is in place.”

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