Which countries are likely to be added to the green list?

·5-min read
Malta is a candidate for the next green list update (Getty/iStock)
Malta is a candidate for the next green list update (Getty/iStock)

The UK’s official green list, which came into effect from 17 May, contains just 11 destinations.

These select few countries, of which British travellers can only feasibly visit less than a handful, are the only places the government currently recommends travelling to on holiday.

As part of the lifting of the blanket recreational travel ban in England, countries have been allotted a colour – green, amber or red – and assigned restrictions of varying severity to match.

Follow green list updates live: Malta and Madeira look set for quarantine-free travel

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson reiterated the government’s position that people should only be holidaying in countries rated green: “It is very, very clear – you should not be going to an amber list country except for some extreme circumstance, such as the serious illness of a family member. You should not be going to an amber list country on holiday.”

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Which countries might be added to the green list on the next update? Here’s what we know so far.

Which countries are on the green list right now?

There are 11 places on the green list currently: Ascension Island, Australia, Brunei, the Falkland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena, Singapore, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

Portugal, the only mainstream holiday destination originally placed on the green list, was shunted down to the amber category in the last review in early June.

The green list is not reciprocal: many of the locations are closed to British travellers, and others will accept only tourists who have been fully vaccinated. Gibraltar is the most obvious holiday candidate letting in Brits with few requirements other than testing; Iceland is only letting in British tourists who can prove they are fully vaccinated.

When will the green list be updated?

The lists will be reviewed every three weeks – the next update is expected to take place on 24 June, with any changes coming into effect five days later, on 29 June.

Any amends to the lists will be informed by public health advice, including the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s assessment of the latest data.

“These regular review points will allow the government to balance helping the public to understand Covid requirements when travelling to England while allowing us to constantly evaluate the risk for different countries,” according to the Department for Transport (DfT).

The government has previously said it would be publishing a green watchlist in the future, to provide an indication of which countries are at risk from moving from green to amber. However, it has yet to put any countries on the watchlist.

Which countries might be added to the green list?

After the last review of the traffic light system, in which no new countries went green despite many optimistic predictions, general forecasting this time around has been that very few places are likely to move from amber to green.

However, a government source told The Times that Malta and the Balearic Islands, including holiday favourites Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca, were being considered, with the Spanish isles declared a “real possibility” for green status.

Elsewhere, travel consultant and CEO of the PC Agency Paul Charles tweeted: “Ministers are still briefing August for opening up further. It is clear they want 70 per cent double-jab immunity. Even though the US and EU are letting their citizens travel.”

Data analysed by the PC Agency from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and Our World in Data suggests that, according to the UK’s own criteria, the following countries should go green: the US, Croatia, Canada, Italy, Germany, the Balearic Islands, Mexico, Jamaica, Finland, Poland, Morocco, Malta, Barbados and Grenada.

However, Mr Charles says he is expecting no more than five countries to be added, even though the data says more should be eligible.

According to Brian Strutton of the pilots’ union Balpa, a wide range of destinations are in the running: Malta, the Balearic and Canary Islands of Spain; some of the Greek islands; the US and some Caribbean islands.

“I am expecting expansion of the green list. In fact, there’s got to be,” he said. “We’re nearly at the point of no return for travel this summer. If we don’t start getting some proper destination flying very, very soon, then we’re going to have bankruptcies and business failures.

“I’m hearing suggestions like, ‘Maybe in August’. Well, that isn’t going to be good enough. We need flying now.”

Among Greek islands, Corfu, Kefalonia, Lesbos, Santorini and Zakynthos (Zante) are looking promising according to the analyst Tim White.

Cuba, which has the best health system in Latin America, is another possibility.

The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder has made his own green list predictions: “I am holding out hope of Albania, Morocco (100 to 1), Finland and plucky Moldova.

“And of course Malta they cannot overlook for a third time.”

However, as we saw at the last review - when several nations that met the previous threshold for going green failed to do so, such as Malta - there are no guarantees. The game of travel Russian roulette continues...

What about holidaymakers who are fully vaccinated?

There has been much talk of travellers who’ve had both jabs being able to forgo quarantine on return to the UK from amber list countries. This would effectively make travel restrictions resemble those of green list destinations, with testing the only requirement.

Government ministers have confirmed it is under consideration but nothing definite has been said about when such a measure might be introduced.

Reports are circulating that the changes could come into effect from August.

The latest data shows that fewer than one in 200 people entering the UK from amber list countries have tested positive for Covid-19. No virus variants of concern were detected in more than 23,000 arrivals from amber destinations, according to NHS Test and Trace data.

What are the restrictions for travellers returning from green countries?

Green countries come with the lightest restrictions for returning travellers: they must provide a negative Covid test result in order to travel to the UK, and then take a PCR test within two days of arrival. No quarantine is required.

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