Prime Minister Boris Johnson has recently spoken to MPs, revealing that as many as seven travel destinations could be added to the 'green list’ early next month.
The PM and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps addressed the news during a 1922 Conservative backbench committee, ahead of the re-evaluation of the traffic light system set for the first week of June.
Grant Schapps recently hinted that the green list could soon expand, given its requirements to be reconsidered every three weeks. He stated:
We have ended up getting way ahead in terms of our vaccination programme in this country and we are just having to wait for other countries to catch up with us. That's going to gradually happen, obviously, you can see it's happening, so that list should expand.
Which countries could be added to the green list?
As of the 17th of May,England reopened their borders once again for international travel. To ensure the public’s safety, each destination was assigned to a traffic light system depending on their associated coronavirus risks. Current ‘green list’ countries include:
- New Zealand
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island
Seven countries were considered ‘near misses in the first round and may be added to the green list on June 7th. These countries include:
- Cayman Islands
- The British Virgin Islands
- Caribbean islands including: Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos, and Anguilla
The Coronavirus Operations Committee will soon decide whether or not to include the new countries on the green list. The committee’s choices will be determined by data from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), which considers COVID risk factors such as infection rates, the prevalence of COVID variants, the country’s genome sequencing and testing capabilities as well as vaccination rates. The JBC will also take into consideration the COVID test results from incoming visitors to the UK.
Could any major destinations be joining the green list?
The US is also in contention to join the green list on June 7th but to be considered for the list, the country would have to lift their travel ban on the UK, which is not likely to happen in time for the travel list’s update.
Popular travel destinations such as France, Spain, Italy and Greece will also not be likely to join the green list in the upcoming update, despite decreasing infection rates and an uptick in vaccinations. However, a separate risk assessment has been demanded for both the Spanish and Greek islands, which could be opened for travel ahead of the mainlands.
Demand for Spain to be added to the green list will be further fueled as the country will soon be following Greece and Portugal’s footsteps by opening its borders to UK tourists.
Despite Spain, Italy, Greece and France residing on the country’s amber list, airlines have been drastically increasing flights to these popular destinations. Cirium, global aviation data specialists, have revealed that a total of 357,000 passengers had been scheduled for these destinations within two weeks following May 17th.
Now, ministers are considering increasing the number of home visits - to ensure returnees from amber list countries are self-isolating - from 3,000 to 10,000 per day.