Britain will allow international travel to resume from May 17, but only a handful of countries have put together a list of open destinations for non-quarantine vacations as the government cautiously lifts coronavirus restrictions.
The “green list” to facilitate travel announced Friday includes only 12 countries and territories, including Portugal, Israel, New Zealand, Australia and the Faroe Islands.
It has angered airlines and vacation companies who are struggling to survive after a year of minimal flight.
Spain, France, Italy and the United States, the four most visited countries by UK residents in 2019, were left out in 2019. All of them fall into the amber category, requiring the self-isolation upon return to the UK. Canada also remains on the Amber List. .
As the pandemic intensifies in parts of the world and variants emerge, Turkey has also been added to a red list of countries. The government has stated that people should not travel to the orange and red countries for their leisure. Travelers due to arrive from red countries face 10 days of managed hotel quarantine that they pay for themselves.
“Today marks the first step in our cautious return to international travel, with measures designed first and foremost to protect public health and ensure that we do not spoil the hard-fought gains we have all strived to earn this year,” he said. said Transport Minister Says Grant Shapps.
Britons have been banned from going abroad for no essential reason since early January, a blow to leisure travel that has also divided families living in different countries.
Airlines, vacation companies and southern European tourist hotspots are waiting for big-budget Britons to start traveling again, but they will have to wait a few more months for a full rebound to take off.
The list will be reviewed every three weeks. It currently only applies to people from England, but decentralized administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to accept it as well.
In Britain, greenlist travel will involve people taking two COVID-19 tests, one before they return to the UK and the other within two days of their return.
Trade bodies for pilots and airlines, airports and holiday groups have said Britain is being overly cautious and such limited reopening will continue to slow down an industry that has made great strides in managing travel safely.
Experts also said prices could climb for bookings at the few places on the greenlist, and Mr Shapps said airports could also experience longer delays as airlines check negative test results.
Many destination countries also have their own requirements, many of which are still effectively closed.
“This excess of caution on the part of the government is extremely disappointing for anyone working in the travel industry,” said Brian Strutton of the British Airline Pilots Association.
The travel industry had argued that Britain’s rapid vaccination program should allow it to open up faster, but the government has prioritized efforts to prevent variants of the coronavirus from entering the country.
Heathrow Airport, the country’s largest, and British Airways have both urged the government to add more countries to the green list during its next travel review in early June, and to allow those who have been fully vaccinated to travel without restrictions.
“The government should help people plan ahead by publishing a list of countries that should be greenlisted for summer vacations so passengers don’t face high prices for last minute bookings. Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said.
Before the announcement, the head of IAG, which owns British Airways, also called on the UK and US to open a travel corridor, given their high vaccination rates.
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