HEATHROW has warned that flights may be diverted to other airports if queues become too lengthy when foreign travel resumes from May 17.
The green list is part of the UK's traffic light scheme allowing holidays to go ahead with few restrictions for British travellers – here is the latest.
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When is the next green list travel announcement?
No definite date has as yet been given for an updated – and hopefully expanded – version of the green list for overseas hols.
But it's clear that biosecurity experts are keeping a close eye on the risk posed by individual countries.
This will be "continuously monitored and the green, amber and red lists will be updated every three weeks," says the government.
The lists will be reviewed every three weeks “from early June”.
So the first update is expected to take place between June 1-4, reports the Independent.
Any changes could then come into effect a week later from June 8-11, it adds.
From Monday May 17, the ‘Stay in the UK’ regulation will cease and international travel will be allowed to restart, governed by a new traffic light system.
Health measures at the border vary depending on whether people are travelling from a green, amber or red country.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: "While the number of countries on the green list is initially low, I anticipate it will grow over time as the situation improves globally, meaning further opportunities for international travel will open up."
The Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) will produce risk assessments of countries and territories.
Decisions will be taken by ministers, who take into account the JBC's assessments, alongside wider public health factors.
The risk report of each country takes into account:
- Genomic surveillance capability
- Covid-19 transmission risk
- variant of concern transmission risk
Which countries are expected to be added to the green list?
It's feared that European holiday hotspots Spain, Greece and France are likely to miss out on the next green list update.
That's despite hopes they would be added in time for the summer season.
Spain's Tourism Minister Fernando Valdes said the country is "desperate to welcome" Brits and he was optimistic that travellers would be able to return to the country, depending on discussions with the UK.
Greece and Cyprus were left off the UK's green list last week – and soaring cases mean they might miss the June traffic light reshuffle too.
With France and Spain also not yet on the green list, it was hoped that they could be added from June 7 – but they are likely to be missed out until July or even August due to their Covid and vaccine situation.
However, next month several countries which almost made it on England's initial green list could be added, reports the Telegraph.
Fiji, the Cayman Islands, Grenada, Finland and Malta all have Covid infection rates which are low enough to possibly take a place on the list.
And The British Virgin Islands, a British overseas territory, has reported just 216 infections and one death in its 30,000 population since the very beginning of the pandemic.
If added to the list, they would require holidaymakers to test upon arrival and quarantine for four days in their accommodation.
Meanwhile Caribbean islands, like Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis and Anguilla have seen zero or close to zero infection rates.
Tourists arriving to these destinations would be tested before or on arrival.
Most of the islands are operating "bubble" policies under which visitors are expected to remain at their designated accommodation.
Which countries are currently on the green list?
Mr Shapps said that, given the need for caution, the green list is initially "modest with only 12 countries and territories when international travel resumes on May 17".
- Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira)
- Israel and Jerusalem
- Brunei Darussalam
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- New Zealand
- Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
While New Zealand and Australia are also on the list – they have their own entry requirements and are unlikely to let in tourists at the moment.
Also, thousands of British tourists hoping to head to Portugal next week could be turned away at the border due to EU rules banning non-member states.
Under current EU restrictions, only people from seven countries, including Australia and Singapore, are allowed to enter the bloc for non-essential reasons – this does not currently include the UK.
What is the government's criteria for green list countries?
Factors taken into account for green list countries include the number of people vaccinated and Covid infection rates.
Variants of concern and the ability of countries to identify them are also being taken into account.
The green rating means travellers do not have to quarantine when they return to the UK, making planning a trip easier this summer, explains Which?
The consumer champions add: "Holidaymakers returning from green list destinations will however need to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test and a PCR test on or before day two of their return."
The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has questioned the UK designating the UAE as a red travel destination.
The UAE is home to over 120,000 British citizens who work and live in the Emirates, and over 5,000 British businesses, with over 1.2million Brits visiting each year.
Mansoor Abulhoul, Ambassador to the UK, said: "We have the second-fastest vaccination rate, one of the world’s most intensive testing systems, and are combating the spread of concerning variants by restricting entry from high-risk countries.
"We are disappointed by this outcome and hope the UAE’s status will be reconsidered at the next opportunity.
"Summer is a key season for Emiratis and the hundreds of thousands of Britons living in the UAE to visit the UK.
"We hope to re-connect the families and friends separated by the pandemic as well as resume the vital trade and tourism links between our countries.”
Data from myGP revealed that 73 per cent of British holidaymakers are planning a staycation this summer, rather than travelling abroad.
Amongst those planning to go overseas, 84 per cent said they were happy to use any NHS-assured app to prove their vaccination status.
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