HOLIDAY islands in Spain and Greece are expected to be kept off the UK's "green" travel list – despite reporting fewer Covid cases than the mainland.

Eager Brits wanting a holiday abroad are waiting to hear which countries they can visit without having to quarantine on their return – but only "a handful" of countries are expected to make the approved list.

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A traffic light system of risk will see the world carved up into green, amber or red zones based on vaccine roll-out and case rates, as well as new variants found.

But insiders warn only a “handful” of countries will be approved for “green” quarantine free travel in the first tranche due to be published this week.

Gibraltar, Malta, Israel and Iceland are contenders for the coveted status, but holiday favourites France, Spain, Greece and Italy are still some weeks away from being approved and are heading for “amber” status it is believed.

That will include all their islands, including the Balearics – whose Covid rate is less than a quarter of that of Spain's – and the Canary Islands, which has vaccinated almost a third of its adult population.

Portugal is the only major European holiday destination that could make it onto the list, set to be revealed on Thursday or Friday.

The tourism minister for the Balearic Islands said it should be considered on a region-by-region basis.

"The British Government (should) take the epidemiological situation of separate regions into account, rather than different countries," Iago Negueruela told the Telegraph.

"We have the technology available to sequence the virus and its strains at a higher percentage than any other region.

"We have made huge efforts to contain the pandemic, and the epidemiological figures for the Islands are among the best in Europe.”

Meanwhile, Greece rushed to vaccinate populations on its 85 islands by May to ensure British tourists could head over once the ban on non-essential foreign travel is lifted.

Islands such as Minos and Kythnos have vaccinated more than half of adults – more than triple the rate of the mainland.

The governor of Crete has argued it is a "safe destination", with more than a quarter of its adult population inoculated.

"The region of Crete is a safe destination observing all the required protocols in order to ensure the safe accommodation of British tourists on our island," Stavros Arnaoutakis told the Telegraph.

"We are expecting the positive decision of the British Government."

Green zones will mean quarantine free travel but tests before and after entry.

Travellers from amber list countries will have to quarantine at home for 10 days on arrival.

Entry from red list countries will be outlawed still, with anyone coming through those countries forced to pay to be isolated in a hotel when they arrive at their own cost.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said that while the data "looks good," lifting restrictions must be "cautious" due to the Covid situation in Europe.

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