What is the ‘green watchlist’ and which countries could be on it?

Isabelle Aron
·2-min read

The government has announced that summer holidays abroad can go ahead from England from May.

Published on 9 April, its second Global Travel Taskforce report outlines how “international travel could resume from 17 May 2021 at the earliest”.

The new proposals will use a traffic light system to classify each country or region as red, amber or green. This will depend on coronavirus infection rates, the presence of any “variants of concern” and the progress of the vaccination programme.

Countries will not be sorted into colours until early May.

As well as the traffic light system, there will also be a “green watchlist”. These are the key things to know about what the new rules could mean for international travel.

Which destinations might be on the green list?

Countries that might be on the green list could include Gibraltar, Israel, Iceland, Malta and the US.

Many nations in Asia-Pacific, such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, are likely to appear on the green list. However, this does not necessarily mean that British holidaymakers will be permitted to travel into these countries, as they are unlikely to open their borders just yet.

What is the green watchlist?

The traffic light system will categorise countries and regions in terms of whether travel will be permitted, as well as what restrictions will be in place.

The green watchlist is an additional measure that the government will use as a way to identify the countries most at risk of moving from green to amber.

Countries on the watchlist will be kept under review and “respond to emerging evidence, with a particular focus on variants of concern”.

It’s not yet known which countries might be on the watchlist. They will be revealed in early May.

Why is it needed?

The green watchlist system aims to avoid abrupt changes which last year resulted in travellers rushing back to the UK as quarantine was imposed on countries and regions with little notice. The government says the system is being implemented to “give passengers more certainty” and to “provide greater assurance for those who wish to travel abroad”.

However, the report states that “the government will not hesitate to act immediately should the data show that countries risk ratings have changed”.

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