Holiday hopes dashed as 'no countries added to green list' - and Portugal to move to amber
No new destinations will be added to the green list in the government’s latest travel update due to concerns about rising Covid-19 cases in the UK, reports suggest.
Popular summer hotspots, including the Spanish and Greek islands, and Malta, had hoped to be awarded green status after the announcement on Thursday (3 June), but the list will remain unchanged according to the BBC.
At the moment only 12 countries are included on the green list, including Portugal Gibraltar, Australia and New Zealand, meaning holidaymakers can visit these destinations without having to quarantine on their return.
An announcement on the travel list is due to be made on Thursday afternoon, although a set time has not yet been confirmed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned ahead of the announcement that the government will have “no hesitation” in moving countries off the green list if necessary, and said it will “wait and see” what the recommendations are from the Joint Biosecurity Centre before making an announcement.
Mr Johnson said: “We are going to try and allow people to travel as I know many people want to, but we’ve got to be cautious.
“We’ve got to continue to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary.
“We will have no hesitation in moving countries from the green list to the amber list to the red list if we have to do so.
“The priority is to continue the vaccine rollout to protect the people of this country.”
The government’s lists and rules only apply in England, but have been largely mirrored by devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Portugal to move to amber
The government is also expected to confirm that Portugal, which is currently the only viable tourist destination on the green list, will lose its green list status and be moved to the amber tier instead.
This will mean that people currently on holiday in Portugal would be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days on returning to the UK after the changes are implemented, which would most likely be next week.
It is feared that Portugal may be moved to the amber list after scientists alerted ministers to a new ‘Nepal variant’ of Covid-19, which is thought to have spread into some European countries.
Scientists from the Joint Biosecurity Centre are reportedly concerned about rising infection rates and the emergence of mutations in the holiday hotspot.
However, a member of the government’s SAGE committee said officials should not be overly concerned about the variant just yet, stating: “There are thousands of variants. This is a virus that is changing all the time."
Possible additions to the red list are also expected on Thursday, with Bahrain, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Thailand among the potential candidates.
People returning to the UK from red list locations must stay in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.
Can I go on holiday to an amber destination?
While there is no law prohibiting people from travelling to an amber list country for a holiday, the government is urging people not to go and to stick only to countries on the green list.
If you do choose to travel to an amber destination for your holiday, you will be going against government advice and additional Covid checks will be required, including self-isolating for 10 days and taking a PCR test on day two and day eight of your return.
Helen Chambers, Travel Insurance Expert at MoneySuperMarket, advised that the traffic light list should not impact travellers’ insurance, although there is a risk that any changes that are made to the list could result in holidays being cancelled.
Most travel companies are refusing refunds in the event a trip is cancelled due to the destination being on the amber list, although some firms, including Exodus, Kuoni and easyJet Holidays, have been praised by consumer group Which? for their flexible policies.
Ms Chambers told NationalWorld: “If your country is on the amber list but the FCDO say that it is safe to travel then you are covered from an insurance perspective.
"However, it’s worth keeping in mind that if the country you are travelling to goes from the green list to an amber or red list and you decide not to travel, your insurer will not cover the cancellation of your holiday.
"Some package tour operators have advised that they will be continuing to operate holidays to countries that are classed as ‘amber’. This is on the provision that the FCDO does not advise against ‘all but essential’ travel to these areas.
"We recommend that consumers book using tour operators to give them more confidence. This is also essential if you want to be covered by ATOL or ABTA schemes. In doing so, this will give consumers more financial protection and flexibility, should anything change as a result of the pandemic.
"It is necessary to follow the FCDO’s travel guidance as you’ll find that most policies will not cover you if you ignore their advice, travel and then try to submit a claim later on – it will invalidate your claim.’