The travel industry had been anticipating the briefing led by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to contain definitive guidance on the resumption of international travel. Instead, the Prime Minister said more data was needed before a firm decision could be taken, adding only that he was “hopeful” that foreign travel could begin again on 17th May.
The news has equally disappointed the general public and travel industry.
Mr Johnson said during his Downing Street briefing that he did not want coronavirus to be reintroduced from abroad and advised people to wait for the Global Travel Taskforce’s report on 12th April 2021.
The government did confirm the introduction of a three-tier traffic light system for categorising countries for international travel to and from England during the briefing.
The new system will see the introduction of a green list of countries to which holiday traffic is permitted without quarantine restrictions, but where pre-departure Covid-tests will still be required before travellers return to the UK followed by a second test on arrival.
It’s uncertain how many countries will be on the green list when the traffic system comes into effect. Countries will be categorised based on their vaccination rates, Covid-19 infection rates, and the prevalence of “variants of concern.” This will be in addition to the infection and variant monitoring systems in operation in green list countries.
The current to 10-day mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals from Red List countries will remain in operation.
Countries that fall somewhere between green and red will be graded as amber requiring passengers arriving from these countries to be both tested and complete a period of self-isolation in the same way that the majority of arrivals must do now. Tests will be taken within 72 hours of arrival and on days 2 and 8 after arrival.
A very limited number of destinations, probably less than 20 will initially be graded as Green under the new system. The vast majority of countries will be considered to have an amber risk rating when the traffic light system is implemented.
Travellers who have been completely vaccinated against Covid-19 with two vaccine doses may be exempt from testing criteria, but the specifics of how vaccination certificates will operate are still being sorted out, with more information to come.
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