Our guide to the 'traffic light' system for going on holiday this summer

THE Government’s Travel Task Force has finally revealed the framework for a return of international travel.

But you could be forgiven for still being just as unsure about what we can do and when.

While there is some detail about the new traffic light system and what it will mean in terms of quarantine on return, and testing, we still have no idea which countries will be in which bands.

Lisa Minot unravels the tortuous road map to the resumption of holidays . . . 

Q: SO what does the new traffic light system involve?

A: From May 17, international travel may be allowed but what you need to do about testing and quarantine will depend on the colour each country will be designated under the new system.

In the case of “green” countries you can travel and return home without having to quarantine. But you will need to have a negative test to come back into the UK — it is anticipated the cheaper lateral- flow tests will be acceptable — and then take a PCR test within two days of returning.

“Amber” countries will involve spending ten days in quarantine on your return to the UK. You’ll have to take a lateral-flow test to get back into the country as well as two PCR tests, on days two and eight.

“Red” countries will mean a ten-day stay in managed hotel quarantine, with a test before you come back into the country and tests on days two and eight. It currently costs £1,750 per person for hotel quarantine.
Of course, dep- ending on the country you plan to visit, they may well have their own testing or vaccine requirements to let you travel there in the first place, which may also need to be factored in.

Q: How will the Government decide which list a country will be on?

A: Ministers have not unveiled the specific criteria but it is thought to involve the vaccination rate in the destination country, the number of active cases and, of course, any evidence of variants of the Covid-19 virus that may cause concern. A country’s ability to test for these variants will also be taken into consideration.

Q: Will we get any notice if a country changes from green to red or red to amber?

A: The traffic light system will also have a sub-category known as the Green Watchlist and this will feature countries that could be in danger of moving from green to amber, so possibly giving holidaymakers a little more notice that they may need to change their plans.

But the task force also said the Government would not hesitate to act immediately if data showed a country’s risk rating had changed.

Q: When will we know which country is on which list?

A: The Government has said it will reveal details in the next two to three weeks, at the start of May. This has been met with dismay by travel firms, who require much more notice to restart flights and tour operations.

Q: How much will it cost to have the tests?

A: The cost of testing is a huge concern. Lateral-flow tests cost from £30 to £50. PCR tests range from £60 to £200.

For “green” countries, it is expected the two tests required will cost around £100, rising to £210 for “amber” countries. This is a huge extra cost for families looking to head abroad this summer and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is committed to trying to get the costs down.

Q: Where can I book a Covid test?

A: You will need to book with a Government-approved testing provider, more details of which can be found at gov.uk/government/ publications/list-of-private-providers- of-coronavirus-testing.

Q: I’ll have had both my vaccine jabs by the summer. Do I still need to take the tests?

A: Yes, the UK Government still requires you to be tested on your return. But it may help entry into some countries and mean you won’t have to take a Covid test.

 

The highs and lows

TO land on the green list, countries need low Covid infection rates, high jab rates and few cases of new variants.

Jacob Lewis lists nations that have low Covid levels (below 210 per 100,000 on a seven-day rolling average) with high jab rates at 22 per cent-plus.

GIBRALTAR: First jabs: 85 per cent. Covid cases: 0. BA has new flights from London City Airport.

ISRAEL: First jabs: 60 per cent. Covid cases: 31.19. There’s a good chance holidays to the Holy Land could be back next month.

MALDIVES: First jabs: 51 per cent. Covid cases: 209. With most hotels on secluded islands, it’s a safe bet for a blow-out break.

MALTA: First jabs: 34 per cent. Covid cases: 125. The archipelago in the Med has seen a rapid drop in cases.

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: First jabs: 27 per cent. Covid cases: 30.6. Caribbean favourite is a good tropical choice.

A signal for cost fears

BUDGET airline EasyJet fears the Government’s traffic light system for travel could make holidays unaffordable for many families due to the cost of compulsory Covid tests.

“Currently the proposed requirement for two tests could add upwards of £500 for a family of four,” says chief executive Johan Lundgren.

“So, please Prime Minister, don’t make travel out of reach for millions this summer.”

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