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Balearic Islands and Malta could be added to green travel list

Written by on 24 June 2021

The government is due to deliver its latest travel advice on Thursday after Matt Hancock gave fresh hope to the prospect of summer holidays this year.

Ministers will reveal which, if any, countries are to move to the quarantine-free green list and those which travelling to continues to be banned or restricted.

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said travellers from the UK should be quarantined wherever they arrive in the EU due to growing fears over the spread of the Delta variant.

“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,” she told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

Live COVID updates as travel list updated

Passengers at Gatwick airport board a flight to Faro in Portugal Image: Reports suggest popular holiday hotspots including Malta and the Balearic Islands could move to the government’s green list

Popular holiday hotspots including Malta and the Balearic Islands could be added to the UK’s “green list” on Thursday as part of the government’s traffic light system for overseas travel, sources suggest.

The health secretary has suggested foreign trips abroad to all amber list countries could be on the cards for those who have received two vaccination doses in the near future, with the government hoping a trial looking at replacing quarantine with daily testing will prove effective.

This would mean people who have had two jabs could travel to countries like France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and the United States and not have to self-isolate when they get back.

According to The Times, children travelling with their parents who have both had two vaccine doses may also be exempt from quarantine measures under the proposals being considered.

But government sources said there will be no imminent concrete changes to travel guidance on this.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said the government wants to “support those who want to travel to do so”, but added that it was “difficult”.

He told Sky News Breakfast: “Nobody likes the draconian restrictions we have had to put in place over this last year as we have wrestled with the pandemic.

“We are being cautious because the biggest threat still to our progress against this pandemic and the great progress we have made on vaccination is that there will be another variant somewhere that maybe hadn’t been properly detected in another country and that variant is more resistant to vaccination.

“That’s the great challenge that we have got, that’s why were proceeding with caution.”

Earlier this week, Mr Hancock said dropping self-isolation rules for people who have been fully vaccinated was “absolutely something” the government is working on, but did not say when such a move could be introduced.

“This hasn’t been clinically advised yet, we’re working on it,” Matt Hancock said about the move, which would see the current 10-day isolation replaced by daily COVID-19 testing.

“When I’m in a position to be able to say something then we will do,” he continued.

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Will you lift isolation rules for double-jabbed?

“But it’s absolutely something we’re working on and it’s something I want to see.”

He also acknowledged that lifting international travel rules is “more difficult” than the remaining domestic coronavirus restrictions.

Reacting to the health secretary’s comments, Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds told Sky News he could see how having two jabs “could be part of a reopening of international travel” but called for a “proper strategy”.

“We want to see international travel opened up when it is safe to do so,” the shadow home secretary said

Tourists queue at Faro airport Image: Tourists queued at Faro airport in Portugal to beat the ten-day quarantine restriction as the country was added to the amber list

Meanwhile Boris Johnson this week admitted that 2021 will be a “difficult” one for international travel “whatever happens” with COVID.

In the last update, firm holiday favourite Portugal was moved to the amber list forcing travellers to flee the country en masse to get home before the ten-day quarantine rule deadline.

No new countries were added to the green list but seven were moved to red with travel there banned.

This means travellers arriving from Egypt, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Bahrain, Sudan and Trinidad and Tobago now have to pay to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days at a cost of more than £1,500 per person.

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Shapps: ‘Apply common sense over travel’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the decision to move Portugal to the amber list was based on rising case numbers and concern about the Delta variant which originated in India.

The government says it continues to look at options to open up international travel safely, with the travel industry having dramatically reduced its operations during the pandemic.

The latest update to the government’s international travel traffic light system comes a day after cabin crew, pilots, travel agents and airport staff joined “a day of action” in Westminster, Holyrood and Stormont.

All were calling on the government to provide more financial support to the sector and to increase the number of countries on the UK’s green list which allows travellers to visit without having to quarantine on their return.

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Govt approach to international travel ‘reckless’

And some firms are considering taking legal action against the government over the restrictions.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel trade organisation Abta, said: “We’re looking at whether or not that is an avenue that we can pursue.

“The hurdle for suing the government is high but we think at least the government needs to say, did it measure the impact on the travel sector of its own policies, and if it did, did it then decide that the sector nonetheless wasn’t worthy of support.”

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