Fully vaccinated travellers from amber list countries may no longer have to self-isolate, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said as he opened up holidays to several Mediterranean hotspots.
Mr Shapps followed the administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland in adding Malta and Spain’s Balearic islands to the ranks of green list countries. The Welsh Government also followed suit.
The list – from which returning travellers are not required to self-isolate – has also been extended to a number of Caribbean destinations including Bermuda, Antigua, Barbados and Grenada.
Mr Shapps said the Government would continue to take a “cautious” approach to reopening foreign travel.
However, he said the rollout of the coronavirus vaccination programme meant they could start to look at plans for easing restrictions on travel from amber list countries as well.
“Thanks to our successful vaccination programme, our intention is that later in the summer UK residents who are fully vaccinated will not have to isolate when travelling from amber list countries,” he tweeted.
“We’ll set out further details next month.”
The changes to the green list destinations will come into effect at 4am on June 30.
Mr Shapps cautioned that all the additions to the green list, with the exception of Malta, had also been added to the green watch list, signalling that they are at risk of moving back to amber. Israel and Jerusalem have also been put on the watch list.
We’re adding Malta to the Govt green list 🟢— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) June 24, 2021
We’re also adding Madeira, the Balearic Islands, several UK Overseas Territories and Caribbean Islands (including Barbados) to the green list and green watchlist.
Israel & Jerusalem are also added to the green watchlist.
Thanks to our successful vaccination programme, our intention is that later in the summer ☀️ UK residents who are fully vaccinated will not have to isolate when travelling from amber list countries 🟠— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) June 24, 2021
We’ll set out further details next month.
While the announcement came as some relief to the beleaguered travel industry, there was disappointment the Government had not gone further, with Greece, France, Italy and mainland Spain still on amber.
The Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said the Government’s “overly cautious” approach would continue to have “major financial impacts” on the sector.
“Any extension of the green list is welcome, however small, but we also have to be realistic: this is not yet the meaningful restart the aviation industry needs to be able to recover from the pandemic,” she said.
“While this is not yet the vaccine dividend people in the UK had hoped for, it is welcome that Government intends to exempt fully vaccinated travellers from quarantine.
“We urge the Government to publish details on its plans and implement them as soon as possible to save what remains of the summer season.”
Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss said there was no reason to keep the United States on the amber list.
“The Government’s own evidence shows that the US is low risk and should be added to the green list now,” he said.
“Whilst the transatlantic corridor is closed, £23 million in economic value each day is restricted.”
However, Mr Shapps defended the decision not to go further, saying that protecting public health remained the top priority.
“It’s right that we continue with this cautious approach, to protect public health and the vaccine rollout as our top priority, while ensuring that our route out of the international travel restrictions is sustainable,” he said.
The changes announced by the Government follow advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and include a number of additions to the red list with returning travellers required to stay at a quarantine hotel.
The affected countries are the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Haiti, Kuwait, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda.
The full list of destinations moved to the green list comprises:
Antigua and Barbuda
British Antarctic Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
British Virgin Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands
Huw Merriman, chairman of the Commons Transport Select Committee, said the changes were “a move in the right direction”.
However he urged ministers not to delay the easing of restrictions on amber list countries where travel was still “unnecessarily difficult”.
“The Government must apply its own logic of using the data to admit going abroad is safe for those who have had both jabs. They must consider this in time for the start of the July summer holidays,” he said.