Original article from Kent Live
Travel rules around Spain and France could change as part of the next review into green, amber and red list countries, it has been suggested.
UK senior ministers and officials are set to look at the coronavirus data in the new few days ahead of the next update on green, amber and red list travel destinations this summer.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to announce which countries tourists in England are safe to visit on Thursday – and which could face tougher quarantine rules.
Any changes would be likely to come into force across the border on Monday, August 9.
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It comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak has reportedly told Boris Johnson that the UK's current border restrictions were "out of step with our international competitors".
A source told the Sunday Times: "Rishi has called time on the travel restrictions" – warning that the current measures have a damaging effect on jobs.
Here are the major changes that could be announced for England, according to the Mirror:
When is the next review due?
The latest changes to the travel list in England were announced on July 14 when Croatia and Bulgaria were added to the green category of countries where self-isolation is no longer required upon your return.
It was also announced that the Balearic Islands would be moved to the amber travel list.
The next review should be announced on either Wednesday, August 4 or 5, according to news reports, three weeks after the last one.
What are the green list countries for England?
The current countries in the green list for England are: Australia, Anguilla, Antarctica, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Indian Ocean Territory, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cayman Islands, Croatia, Dominica, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Grenada, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel and Jerusalem, Malta, Madeira, Montserrat, New Zealand, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, Singapore, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha, Taiwan and Turks and Caicos Islands.
France could move category
Speculation is mounting that France could be moved from the amber-plus category in England, which could be axed altogether.
The UK sparked a diplomatic row with Paris last month by unexpectedly moving France into a new "amber plus" category.
The move meant France was excluded from the quarantine exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers – so holidaymakers have to isolate even if they are double jabbed.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab sparked confusion by claiming the decision was taken due to the prevalence of the Beta variant in Reunion island, which is 6,000 miles away from mainland France.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted that there were cases of the variant in mainland France, but hinted that the country could move out of the category as prevalence was falling.
Spain may move to a new watchlist
Mainland Spain, the Balearics and the Canary Islands are currently on the amber list, which means that vaccinated travellers can avoid quarantining.
But if it is shifted onto the amber plus list like France, all English travellers will have to isolate regardless of vaccination status.
Another measure being considered is the creation of a new "amber watchlist" which could replace the amber plus category.
Any destination flagged on the watchlist could move from amber to red with short notice, meaning families abroad could be forced to undergo hotel quarantine on their return to England, at a cost of £1,750 a head.
A Whitehall source told the Daily Mail: “You would have to be crackers to book a holiday to a place knowing that it could go on to the red list at any moment.”
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab refused to rule out the creation of a new watchlist when pressed on the issue in recent days.
There is already a green watchlist, which flags destinations that could move up to amber if the Covid situation becomes more concerning.
A dozen countries could be added to the green list
About a dozen nations could be added to the green list for quarantine-free travel for all, it has been suggested.
There are growing hopes that Germany and Italy are among the countries which may be deemed safe for travel without passengers in England having to self-isolate on their return.
Analyst Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, predicted that potential additions could also include Bosnia, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Meanwhile, i news reports that Mr Charles and former BA strategist Robert Boyle believed that Austria and Switzerland will also make the green list.
Mr Boyle also suggests Azerbaijan, Bhutan and Vietnam are in with a shot.
On July 26, the Telegraph reported how 77 countries were claimed to be under review by scientists for a possible move to the green list for quarantine-free travel for England.
What data are the travel review decisions based on?
The decisions on where countries fall in the traffic light system are based on data analysed by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), which is part of the UK Health Security Agency.
It says a country or territory is scored against key categories including:
- Vaccination rates
- SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) transmission risk
- Variant of Concern (VOC) transmission risk
- genomic surveillance capability – the facilities available to track coronavirus and its mutations