By Edward Robertson
The UK government has released its plans for relaunching international travel following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Produced by the Global Travel Taskforce, the report shows how international travel could return from 17 May with permission to travel forms, which allowed travel for a limited number of reasons but not for taking a holiday, the first to go.
Speaking at the launch of the plan, transport secretary Grant Shapps added a traffic light system would be installed, with countries categorised according to risk alongside restrictions for travel.
Key factors in a country’s assessment will include the percentage of the population that have been vaccinated; the rate of infection; the prevalence of variants of concern and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
Once the destination has been assessed it will be placed in one of three categories, with green being the least restricted as travellers are required to take a pre-departure test and then a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on the second day of their return to the UK. Quarantine will only be required should the test prove to be positive.
Travellers returning from amber countries will need to take a pre-departure test too, then be prepared for 10 days of quarantine upon their return, with PCR tests on days two and eight, although a test to release can be taken on the fifth day.
Meanwhile countries on the red list will see returning travellers undergoing their 10-day quarantine in a managed hotel with tests both before departure and on days two and eight of the quarantine period again.
A green watchlist will also be introduced with the aim of identifying which countries are most likely to be moved to the amber list.
Shapps said it was too early to say which category countries would find themselves in and added further announcements would be made in early May concerning both the lists and whether travel will be allowed as of May 17.
He added: “International travel is vital – it boosts businesses and underpins the UK economy – but more than that, it brings people together, connects families who have been kept apart, and allows us to explore new horizons.
“The framework announced today will help allow us to reopen travel safely and sustainably, ensure we protect our hard-won achievements on the vaccine roll out, and offer peace of mind to both passengers and industry as we begin to take trips abroad once again.”
Shapps said the UK will also play a leading role in the development of international standards around a digital travel certification system while work also continues to develop a system that would facilitate travel certification for inbound international travel.
He added restrictions will be formally reviewed on 28 June, 2021, to take account of the domestic and international health picture, and to see whether current measures could be rolled back. Further formal reviews will take place at checkpoints no later than 31 July and 1 October, 2021.