Britain will allow people in England to resume international travel from May 17 but is limiting the number of destinations open for quarantine-free holidays to just a handful of countries as it cautiously emerges from lockdown restrictions.
Portugal, Israel, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore all made the green list for travel in a system that will be reviewed every three weeks, transport minister Grant Shapps said on Friday. Popular destinations such as France, Spain and Greece did not.
Airlines, holiday companies and tourist hotspots in southern Europe have been waiting for over four months for big-spending Britons to start travelling again, but they will have to wait a few months longer for a full rebound to take off.
Left off the list were Spain, France, Italy and the U.S., the top four most visited countries by UK residents in 2019, which all sit in the amber category, requiring self-isolation on return to the UK.
Despite the limitations, permitting travel abroad is still a welcome boost for the beleaguered sector and should prompt bookings. Britons have been banned from going abroad without an essential reason since early January, a blow for leisure travel and also splitting families who live across different countries.
British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, TUI and others will now likely have to wait until next month for the larger scale re-opening they need to repair their COVID-19 battered finances.
They have argued that Britain’s vaccination programme, which has outpaced the rest of Europe, should mean the country can allow more travel sooner, but so far the EU’s plans are ahead. It has recommended the arrival of foreign travellers from more countries from June.
Earlier on Friday, the chief executive of British Airways-owner IAG called on the UK and the U.S. to open a travel corridor given their high vaccination rates.
Countries where Britons might want to travel will still have their own rules for entry. For example, Britons are currently banned from going to the U.S.
Green list travel will involve people taking two COVID-19 tests, one before arrival back into the UK and one within two days of returning.