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Revealed: Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel on summer holiday travel 'green list'
7 May 2021, 17:10 | Updated: 8 May 2021, 14:12
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has revealed the destinations on the 'green list' that holidaymakers can visit this summer without needing to quarantine on their return.
Mr Shapps said the key summer holiday destinations people can visit from May 17 include: Portugal, Israel and Gibraltar, but the plans were met with a backlash and were described as a "very small step" by travel firms.
The full green list includes the following countries: Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira); Australia; New Zealand; Singapore; Brunei; Iceland; Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; Falkland Islands; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Saint Helena, Ascension & Tristan da Cunha; and Israel.
Despite being on the green list, people will not be able to go on holiday to Australia, New Zealand or Singapore as they are closed to UK tourists.
France, Spain and Greece are not yet included but a review will take place every three weeks, Grant Shapps said.
Mr Shapps said travellers should not book holidays that do not include a refund policy in case the country's Covid situation changes.
The Transport Secretary told a Downing Street press conference on Friday: "Green list countries will be placed on a watch list.
"If we start to have any concerns, and if it is necessary because of a new upswing in cases or a new variant, we will not hesitate to act fast and withdraw green status."
He added: "Our strong advice is not to book any holiday which does not include a refund in the event that the Covid-related situation changes and you're able to cancel.
"I'm afraid we do expect longer delays at airports."
Mr Shapps continued: "Covid isolates us but travel reunites us. Travel is also crucial to rebuilding our economy. Our success in combatting Covid here with two thirds of adults here is not yet replicated in many places abroad."
He described the UK as a "fortress" against covid and warned of the coronavirus crisis engulfing India, saying: "No-one wants to go back into lockdown."
"We must make sure the countries we can visit are safe," he said.
Portugal, Israel and Gibraltar are the only popular summer short-haul destinations out of 12 countries and territories on the Government's new green list for travel.
Meanwhile Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal have been added to the red list.
People returning from those countries after 4am on Wednesday will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.
The DfT also announced that from May 17, people who have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine will be able to use the NHS app to demonstrate their status.
People who do not have the app will be able to request an NHS letter from that date.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the removal of international travel restrictions on May 17 was "necessarily cautious".
Mr Shapps said the Government must "make absolutely sure" the countries the UK reconnects with are safe.
He said: "We in this country have managed to construct a fortress against Covid. But the disease is still prevalent in other parts of the world, most notably at the moment in India.
"In fact, more new cases of Covid have been diagnosed around the world in the last seven days than at any time since the pandemic began."
He added: "That's why today's announcement, removing the stay in the UK restrictions from May 17, is necessarily cautious.
"We must make absolutely sure that the countries we reconnect with are safe, that their infection rates are low and their vaccination rates are high.
"It means making sure we are not incubating the most dangerous variants that they're not and that they have safe and secure surveillance in place."
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also said travellers were "crucial" to rebuilding the UK's economy.
"We want a summer in which, with the help of vaccines and testing, we can reunite family and friends, and travel to places we love.
"We want to start looking outward again. Whilst Covid has isolated us, travel unites us."
He added: "Travellers are, of course, also absolutely crucial to rebuilding our economy, bringing long-awaited relief to hard-hit airlines, airports, the tourism sector, which taxpayers have spent £7 billion in supporting."