UK Covid Travel List May Allow Foreign Trips to Just a Handful of Places

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The U.K. is set to lift the ban on international leisure travel from mid-May but only a handful of countries are likely to be approved as holiday destinations, as ministers seek to keep control over the pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s officials are studying the latest data on infection rates in other countries with a view to adding those with low levels of Covid-19 to a new “green list” of approved destinations for foreign travel.

The details are expected to be announced on Friday, and to take effect from May 17, according to officials. Initially only a small number of nations and territories are likely to be approved but the list will be revised every three weeks to take account of the changing pandemic situation.

It is currently illegal to travel overseas for holidays, under British law. Destinations that could be placed on the green list as rules are eased in the weeks ahead include Malta, Iceland, Israel, the Canary Islands and Gibraltar.

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive officer of London’s Heathrow airport, said in an interview last week that Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and some Caribbean destinations, could also be assigned green status, and that he hadn’t given up on the U.S. featuring.

Mainland Spain and Greece, both among the most popular holiday destinations for Britons, might not be green-lighted until June and July respectively as the European Union vaccination program picks up pace and the pandemic recedes, he said.

Tourism Boost

The easing of rules on international travel will provide a desperately needed boost to the British and European aviation and tourism sectors which have been battered by national lockdowns and travel bans.

As the U.K. eases its pandemic restrictions with a vaccine rollout program now having reached two-thirds of all adults, ministers are turning their attention to how to allow foreign travel to resume with the use of Covid certification — known as vaccine passports.

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