When is the green list going to be updated and which countries are on it?

17 May 2021, 12:25

The green list is being keenly watched by those looking for a summer holiday abroad this year.
The green list is being keenly watched by those looking for a summer holiday abroad this year. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

Quarantine-free holidays abroad for people in England can restart from 17 May to a select few countries on the government's green list, but many are pushing for the list to be updated ahead of the summer.

Announcing the traffic light system on the 7 May, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stressed that the removal of international travel restrictions would be "necessarily cautious" and "people should expect travel to be different his summer".

Leisure travel to Portugal will restart from Monday 17 May, after the country confirmed that it would allow travellers from Britain to enter the country without quarantine provided they show a negative PCR Covid-19 test.

However, almost all key tourist destinations have been left off the green list so far, including prime summer holiday locations such as France and Spain, meaning those returning from these countries will need to quarantine for up to 10 days.

And in worse news for would-be holiday-makers, Boris Johnson said on Friday he does not expect new countries to be added to the green list "very rapidly".

"There's a very limited list as you know and we will certainly be making sure that people travelling abroad will be subject to all the tests and constraints to prevent the virus being reimported." he said.

"That's why it's such a tiny list of countries and I don't expect we will be adding to it very rapidly."

So what is the traffic light system? Which countries are currently on the green list? Which countries are on the red list? And when will the green list be updated?

Read more: Portugal confirms holidays from UK can go ahead from 17 May

Read more: Vaccine minister tells LBC all four tests must be met for June 21 lockdown easing

When will the green list be updated?

Which list any country is on will be reviewed every three weeks "from early June" according to the Department for Transport.

The first set of changes is expected to be announced between 1 and 4 of June, with changes coming into effect seven days later.

The government has said that "as the epidemiological situation improves worldwide, it is expected that there will be more opportunities for leisure travel with a greater number of destinations added".

Read more: UK firm On the Beach pulls summer holiday sales due to travel uncertainty

The decisions will be based on the public health situation in each country, with the Joint Biosecurity Centre giving an assessment of the latest data. This will include case rates, vaccination rates and variants of concern.

In an attempt to avoid the last minute scrambles for flights that characterised travel last year, the government will also be publishing a "green watchlist", which will "provide an indication when a country is identified as a candidate" for changing to amber or red.

What is the traffic light system?

Under the system nations are placed into one of three categories - red, amber and green. The government says people should not travel to amber or red countries for leisure.

In green destinations, arrivals will have to take a pre-departure test and another PCR test on or before day two of their return to the UK. No quarantine or additional tests will be needed unless a positive result comes back.

UK travel green list rules explained
UK travel green list rules explained. Picture: LBC

In amber countries, arrivals must quarantine for 10 days, take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on day two and day eight after their return, with the option of a "test to release" on day five to end self-isolation early.

UK travel amber list rules explained
UK travel amber list rules explained. Picture: LBC

For red destinations, travel to these countries will be restricted along the same lines as the government's current "red list", meaning returning travellers must stay for 10 days in a quarantine hotel, as well as take a pre-departure test and a further PCR test on day two and day eight after returning.

All of these rules apply even if you have been vaccinated.

UK travel red list rules explained
UK travel red list rules explained. Picture: LBC

Which countries are currently on the green list?

From 17 May, 12 countries will be added to the green list - Portugal, Gibraltar, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Singapore, Brunei, the Faroe Islands, the Falkland Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunh, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Portugal is the country that has sent many Brits scrambling for flights, with UK holiday firms seeing a huge surge in demand.

Which countries are currently on the green list?
Which countries are currently on the green list? Picture: LBC

EasyJet has added 105,000 extra seat to its flights serving green-tier destinations, while Tui plans to use aircraft which normally operate long-haul routes to accommodate the surge of people booked to fly to Portugal.

Read more: UEFA Champions League final moved to Portugal so 12,000 can attend

Which countries are on the red list?

Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal are the most recent countries be added to the ongoing list.

They join Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Guyana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Turkey, Uruguay, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The remaining countries will be added to the amber list.