Traffic light travel system to be unveiled by Boris Johnson today – with countries graded on jab rates & virus risk04/05/2021
BORIS JOHNSON will set out plans to restart international travel today, using a "traffic-light" system.
Travel destinations will be ranked green, amber or red according to virus risk, Downing Street said in a statement late Saturday, with the government to provide more details this afternoon.
International travel is currently banned except for a handful of permitted reasons. This has created massive pent-up demand for summer holidays abroad.
The Prime Minister said: "We are doing everything we can to enable the reopening of our country… as safely as possible."
The government said the new system "will help ensure the UK's vaccine progress isn't jeopardised and provide clear guidance for travellers".
People heading to low-risk "green" countries will simply take a virus test before and after they travel, the government said.
Those who are not fully vaccinated that head to amber or red countries will have to self-isolate or quarantine afterwards – with at home or in a hotel, depending on the country.
But vaccinated travellers who head to amber countries, likely to be holiday destinations like Spain and Greece, may be able to skip quarantine.
Currently people arriving in the UK from abroad are required to self-isolate for 10 days.
British nationals who arrive from a banned "red list" of high-risk countries face costly quarantine in government-approved hotels.
The government urged people not to book summer holidays, saying it was "too early to predict" which would be the green-lighted countries.
Meanwhile, a single-shot Covid jab that could save foreign holidays for youngsters was last night hailed as “a game changer” by travel bosses.
The one-dose Janssen jab is set to be available by July for 18 to 30-year-olds — so they could be off to party islands like Ibiza within months.
Andrew Flintham, managing director for Tui UK and Ireland, welcomed the introduction of a "traffic light" system for foreign travel.
He told BBC Breakfast: "We are all trying to reopen the UK, the economy, and travel is an intrinsic part of that.
"So we are looking for some really clear guidelines so we welcome the traffic light system. We think it will give us some clear rules to work with and also it will make it obvious what data is driving what decisions."
Mr Flintham said the company was gearing up to restart and added: "All our teams are getting ready for restart, we believe and we hope the 17th [of May] will be possible.
"We think with the amazing vaccine programme and the greater provision of testing, we think we should be able to get going."
Health minister Ed Argar said the Prime Minister would be trying to give "as much foresight and as few surprises as possible" about the possibility of international travel this year during his press conference today.
Pressed on whether Europe was likely to be on the "caution list" of destinations due to a surge in cases, the minister replied: "We are seeing many of our friends in Europe seeing an increase in infections.
"That is one of the reasons why we have to be very careful, that as we see an increase across the world in infections that we get this right.
"Because one of the things we don't want to see – and just as the vaccination programme is working so well – is getting new variants or risking new variants getting imported into this country."
He said he'll be spending his holidays "at home in sunny Leicestershire
The government has also announced it will allow a number of people to attend public events such as football matches from this month in trials of a virus certification system.
But it has not made clear whether it will issue "virus passports" for international travel, an idea backed by many tourism-dependent countries and airlines but opposed by more than 70 MPs.
The UK has already given out more than 31 million first vaccine doses and over 5 million second doses.
The rollout has far outstripped popular holiday destinations such as France.
This has boosted the public mood after more than 126,000 people died from the virus in the United Kingdom, the highest toll in Europe.
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