Covid: Green list expansion ‘not enough’, say travel bosseson June 25, 2021 at 2:31 am

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Sixteen places – including Ibiza – will join the green list from Monday, but industry leaders want more.

Tourists at the Playa de Palma beach in September 2019

image copyrightGetty Images

The government’s expansion of the UK’s green travel list does not go far enough, industry leaders have warned.

Arrivals from 16 places, including Spain’s Balearic Islands, will not have to quarantine from 04:00 on Wednesday.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also said the government plans to drop quarantine for fully-vaccinated people returning from amber list countries “later in the summer”.

But easyJet has said the timetable “simply isn’t ambitious enough”.

The airline said the announcement, which followed days of pressure from the travel industry, was “not the safe and sustainable reopening of travel the government promised”.

And British Airways warned the sector could not afford “another missed summer”.

The destinations added to the green list from 04:00 BST on 30 June are:

  • Europe: The Balearic Islands (which include Ibiza, Menorca, Majorca and Formentera), Malta and Madeira
  • Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Other British Overseas Territories: Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory and Pitcairn

Six destinations will also be added to the government’s red list on 30 June. They are the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Haiti, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda.

All the additions to the green list, with the exception of Malta, have also been added to the green watch list, signalling they are at risk of moving back to amber. Israel and Jerusalem have also been put on the watch list.

The Department for Transport said the plan to allow fully-vaccinated people to arrive from amber list countries without having to quarantine will take place in phases, starting with UK residents.

It also said it plans to remove the guidance that people should not travel to amber countries, and will take clinical advice on whether regular testing could provide a safe alternative to quarantine for children accompanied by vaccinated adults.

However, a spokesman said further details – such as when these changes might happen – will not be set out until next month.

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Analysis box by Caroline Davies, transport correspondent

This is the longest the green list has been since the traffic light system was introduced this year.

The addition of Spanish and Caribbean holiday islands is helpful for the travel industry, but it still leaves most of Europe on amber.

The majority of destinations have also been placed on the green watch list – a sign that they are at a higher risk of tipping to amber. Will this dissuade potential travellers from booking?

After more than a week of build up, there’s some disappointment that there’s no guarantee of when quarantine will be dropped for fully vaccinated arrivals from amber list countries.

While some in the industry are celebrating a small step in the right direction, others have already said that this is not enough to save the summer.

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Reacting to the news, Sean Doyle, CEO of British Airways, said the announcement was not enough to help the sector recover from the pandemic.

“We cannot afford another missed summer. There are jobs at stake, Britons separated from family members and we cannot afford to allow the success of our vaccine programme to be wasted,” he said.

He added plans to allow vaccinated people to travel more freely this summer were “critical”.

Shai Weiss, head of Virgin Atlantic, said the expanded green list “fails to go far enough”, and that the US should have been added.

And industry body Abta said the announcement “will not on its own deliver the meaningful restart of international travel that the industry desperately needs”.

Graphic showing how the traffic light system for arrivals will work

However, some in the industry – like Jet2 – welcomed what they saw as a “step in the right direction”.

The holiday firm said the development showed the government was “firmly committed to reopening international travel and we commend that approach”.

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Analysis box by Anna Holligan, Hague correspondent

Behind the bar at Plastik, staff embraced, ecstatic to hear Ibiza had finally been given the green light.

Champagne bottles began popping, and glasses were raised in pre-emptive celebration.

British tourists are the lifeblood of this Mediterranean escape – their spending in the bars, clubs and hotels fuels and feeds this island economy,

As soon as the confirmation came through, residents began fielding calls from friends in the UK, already booking their flights.

For UK travellers, this decision means they can spend a few weeks indulging in all of the pleasures Ibiza has to offer. For local businesses, it represents their imminent revival.

It’s a delicate, diplomatic balancing act and these are tentative steps. But tonight in Ibiza, they’re jumping for joy.

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Graph showing cases rate in selected countries

The prospect of European holidays does, however, face another hurdle, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested earlier this week all EU countries should make British travellers quarantine on arrival to slow the spread of the Delta variant.

She told German MPs: “In our country, if you come from Great Britain, you have to go into quarantine – and that’s not the case in every European country, and that’s what I would like to see.”

But those going to Italy have to self-isolate for five days then take a test, while fully-vaccinated UK visitors to France can enter without quarantining.

Table showing how the UK Covid case numbers compare

Cases numbers are continuing to rise in the UK, with a further 16,703 reported on Thursday. Another 21 deaths were also reported.

More than 60% of UK adults have now been fully vaccinated, while 82% have had at least one dose.

Mr Shapps said on Thursday that the UK was continuing with a “cautious approach” in order 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”.

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