The UK government has added Malta to its “green list” of countries and is considering quarantine-free travel for double-vaccinated travellers arriving from amber list countries later in summer.
Malta, Madeira, Majorca, Ibiza, several UK Overseas territories and Caribbean islands including Barbados were added to the UK “green list” of areas that can be visited without the need for quarantine on return.
All additions to the green list, apart from Malta, will also join the ‘green watchlist’, as will Israel and Jerusalem, which signals that these countries are at risk of moving from green to amber. Eritrea, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda have been added to the government’s red list due to variants of concern which will mean mandatory hotel quarantine for returning travellers.
Yesterday’s additions and updates to the list came on the same day as German chancellor Angela Merkel called for greater co-ordination between EU states on travel restrictions at a summit in Brussels. Merkel warned EU leaders yesterday that the continent was “on thin ice” in its battle to keep the Delta variant of Covid-19 out of the bloc. The variant is now the most prevalent strain within the UK, which has seen a rise in Covid cases over the past weeks despite 60 per cent of the population having received two vaccinations and 83 per cent having received their first vaccination. EU leaders have committed to being “vigilant and co-ordinated with regard to developments, particularly the emergence and spread of variants.”
British travellers are currently required to quarantine for two weeks on arrival in Germany and Poland. France, Italy and Portugal have also indicated that they will impose restrictions requiring a blanket two-week quarantine for UK arrivals.
Double-vaccinated travellers could skip amber list quarantine requirements
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he hoped to allow Britons who had received both vaccinations to skip quarantine and reduce testing on arrival from amber list countries – which includes most of Europe. The decision would not be taken until next month and changes to the quarantine and testing regime would not be implemented until “later in the summer.” Industry experts have suggested this is an indication that the relaxation of measures will come later than the expected removal of other Covid restrictions on July 19.
Travellers who have received both jabs arriving into the UK from amber list countries would still have to take coronavirus tests before departure and on day two of their stay in Britain, but the requirement for a further test after eight days would be dropped. The date for implementation of the change will be set out next month, along with rules which will apply to children and those unable to be vaccinated. The government is considering using testing as an alternative to vaccination for under-18s travelling with double-jabbed adults.
Shapps said: “We’re moving forward with efforts to safely reopen international travel this summer, and thanks to the success of our vaccination programme, we’re now able to consider removing the quarantine period for fully vaccinated UK arrivals from amber countries – showing a real sign of progress.”
“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.”
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “It is very positive news that Ministers are following the science and that fully vaccinated people will be able to travel safely without quarantine later this summer.”
“We are a cosmopolitan country, a small island with strong links to the rest of the world. Exporters want to get out and sell their goods to the world, families want to reconnect after a year of separation. We will work with the Government to make this happen as soon as possible and let Britain fly!”
Extensions to green list “not enough to survive on”
BALPA Acting General Secretary, Brian Strutton said the extensions to the green list wouldn’t be enough to save businesses and jobs and called for further financial support for aviation. He said: “The Government has not gone as far as it could have in opening up safe travel but they clearly heard the industry’s voice yesterday and have responded. It isn’t good enough to survive on and the absence of any US routes is a bitter blow.”
“With some countries looking to shut us out, it is now imperative that the bespoke financial support the Chancellor promised last year is delivered immediately.”
Virgin Atlantic has welcomed the addition of Antigua, Barbados and Grenada to the green list. But CEO Shai Weiss said: “Today’s announcement fails to go far enough. The government’s own evidence shows that the US is low-risk and should be added to the green list now.”
Changes to the government’s travel lists classifications will come into action from 4am on Wednesday 30 June.