Travel news latest: France and Spain to be off limits as only handful of countries on ‘green’ list

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The most popular destinations for British holidaymakers, including Spain and France, look set to be off limits this summer, with much of Europe failing to meet the Government’s criteria to make the new “green” list.

A traffic light system recommended by the Global Travel Taskforce looks likely to come into force in May governing where Britons can travel; those heading to countries labelled “green” will not need to quarantine on return.

But only a handful of nations will make the cut. The Government has said it will consider infection rates, variants prevalence and access to genomic sequencing, as well as vaccination rate, with the threshold possibly as high as 50 per cent.

As it stands, British travellers would only be able to visit Israel and Gibraltar, with the Maldives and the Seychelles soon to make the grade.

Spain, the country most visited by Britons, with 18 million trips in 2019, is a long way off, with a vaccination rate below 15 per cent. France (10 million trips) and Italy (5 million) also have some ground to make up for inclusion on the “green” list by the summer, with vaccinations rates at 15.6 and 13.8, respectively.

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Vital Government reviews ‘green’ list regularly, says Abta

Abta, which represents British tour operators, has said testing costs could provide a barrier for travel, even to “green” list countries.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive, said the Government should consider dropping testing requirements for vaccinated travellers. 

“While the framework isn’t perfect – the requirement for a PCR test when you arrive back from a green list country could prove a cost-barrier for many people – we welcome the fact that the Government commits to engaging with industry on this issue,” he said. 

“Small changes, like requiring a PCR test only if the individual gets a positive result from a lateral flow test, would make international travel more accessible and affordable whilst still providing an effective mitigation against re-importation of the virus.

“The Government should also consider whether those who have been vaccinated can be exempt from testing requirements, should scientific evidence suggest reduced transmissibility.”

He also said it is vital for the survival of the indsutry that the Government regularly reviews the “green” list. 

“Closing off destinations unnecessarily will significantly affect the industry’s opportunity to recover this summer,” he said.

Which countries could make the green list through vaccinations?

A threshold of 50 per cent has been rumoured, but it is not clear if this will refer to first doses given, or fully vaccinated. Or, indeed, whether it will be lower.

Here is how key countries are getting on with their programme.

Jet2: ‘We need more detail on holidays’

Jet2 has said the Government has not given enough clarity or detail for its customers to have confidence in their summer plans. 

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2 and Jet2holidays, said: 

We welcome the UK Government’s announcement, which demonstrates a clear ambition to restart international travel, which is what our customers have been calling for.  We now need further detail and clarity on the plans. We want our customers to enjoy a happy and healthy holiday, but without the additional cost of expensive pre-departure and post-arrival testing on top, so we are now calling for further clarity on a cost-effective Covid-19 testing regime for customers. We know how much our customers want to get away to enjoy their well-deserved holidays in the sunshine and we have a huge range of hotspots and leisure city destinations on sale from across our network of UK airport bases for Summer 21.

Good morning

Morning, and the focus of today is the release of the Global Travel Taskforce’s findings. The main concerns are:

  • Which countries will make which list?
  • How much will testing cost for travellers?
  • Will there still be compulsory hotel quarantine?
  • Will tour operators help with PCR test cost?
  • Should I book now or wait?

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