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

·2-min read
<p>A traffic light travel system will be introduced from 17 May</p> (PA)

A traffic light travel system will be introduced from 17 May


The government has announced that summer holidays abroad can go ahead from England from 17 May.

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.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced the lists on 7 May, with 12 countries on the “green list” - including Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel - and 43 countries on the “red list” - including Dubai, Turkey and the Maldives.

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 are on the green list?

There are initially 12 destinations deemed safe enough to be on the green list:

  • Portugal

  • Israel

  • Gibraltar

  • Iceland

  • Faroe Islands

  • Brunei

  • Falkland Islands

  • Australia

  • New Zealand

  • Singapore

  • Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

  • South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands

Travellers returning to the UK from these countries won’t need to quarantine. However, they must provide a negative test result - be it rapid antigen, lateral flow or PCR - before departing for the UK, and take a PCR test within two days of arrival.

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 lists will be updated every three weeks.

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 will be on the watchlist.

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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