Covid green list is too cautious, say UK airlines and travel agencies

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Airlines and travel agencies urged government to act quickly to open up travel to more European destinations and the United States, as thousands flew overseas after ban was lifted British overseas vacation Monday.

British Airways and Heathrow criticized the limited green list of just 12 countries where non-quarantine travel is allowed, and called on the government to publish an “expected list” of planned destinations for summer travel to allow customers to plan .

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said France, Greece and Spain should be included, and he was “surprised and disappointed” that the Caribbean was not on the green list.

“It is now becoming urgent … if there is no getaway in July and August, many companies will not do it next year,” he said.

“It is not a choice between public health and the economy. We can do both, using the government’s risk-based approach.

BA CEO Sean Doyle said: “It’s clear to us that America should be on the green list. “

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “The latest data suggests that most of Europe could already switch to this green list of categories now.”

So far, only Portugal, among the UK’s top holiday destinations, is on the green list. Airlines are selling flights to other European countries in hopes they will be added by the summer – although ministers were made explicit over the weekend that people should not be traveling to the countries appearing on the amber list.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the Orange List – including Spain, France, Italy and Greece – featured “places you shouldn’t go unless you have an absolutely compelling reason. “.

Boris Johnson signaled on Friday that the list would not be expanded soon, with concerns over new variants of Covid, particularly from India.

Medical experts have also warned against travel. Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust charity, told the BBC: “I think travel should always be very careful and only when absolutely essential.”

Passengers traveling to an Orange country are required to quarantine at home for 10 days upon their return, while those traveling to Green List countries must take a test abroad and again two days after return, as well as other countries before departure conditions.

Holiday flights departed from UK airports to Portugal on Monday, with 16 landing in Faro in the Algarve alone.

Gatwick Airport General Manager Stewart Wingate said the restart of leisure travel was a great relief. Although Sussex Airport is still only expecting less than 15% of pre-pandemic traffic by the end of May, he said: “This is an important day for us and an important first step, and we are looking forward to seeing more countries. added to the green list in the coming weeks. “

Passengers have expressed their pleasure in going abroad. Keith and Janice Tomsett, aged 72 and 71, from West Chiltington in West Sussex, were flying from Gatwick on Monday morning to the Portuguese island of Madeira.


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Mr Tomsett told the PA News Agency: “We’ve gone through all the hurdles, the PCR tests… after 15 months in lockdown, it’s unbelievably good.”

At Heathrow, Erica Stolton, 29, was traveling to Madrid to introduce her baby to her family. She told Reuters: “It’s absolutely magical. The situation with this pandemic has been really difficult. “

The government has announced that it will update the lists on June 7.

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