Travel: Calder discusses potential green list countries
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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that islands would be looked at separately when travel rules are updated on June 7. The approach has raised hopes that popular holiday hotspots such as Tenerife, Majorca, and Corfu could be moved to the green list even if the rest of the country is rated amber. Other Mediterranean and Caribbean islands could also be bumped up the list under the plan.
Mr Shapps told the BBC’s Today programme: “I’ve always said that of course it’s desirable where an aircraft can fly direct to an island, for example, and that island is therefore accessible in that you don’t need to go via the mainland, that you look at that differently. That’s what we did last year as well.”
Frontrunners are also understood to include Malta, Grenada, Cayman Islands, Fiji, British Virgin Islands.
The Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos and Anguilla are also being considered.
Aviation Minister Robert Courts told MPs that the Government would treat popular tourist islands with low Covid rates separately “where possible” as it prepares to reveal the next tranche of destinations that could be added to the quarantine-free list at the start of next month.
The latest seven-day rate of infection for the Balaerics is 19 cases per 100,000 of the population – half the rate in the UK.
Infections in the Canary Islands are on a par with the UK, at 42 cases per 100,000.
The Greeks have reportedly prioritised vaccination of its island communities – with some boasting an admirable 100 percent rate.
The approach would align with current Foreign Office advice; that the Greek Islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu and Crete as well as the Canary Islands, were safe for non-essential travel.
Mainland Spain and Greece were not currently considered safe to UK holidaymakers.
However, because Spain is on the amber list, Number 10 warned people against making plans for a holiday to the country.
It comes as airline bosses again piled pressure on the Government to relax restrictions for outbound and inbound travel in the wake of a successful Covid-19 vaccination programme here and growing confidence in the jabs rollout in Europe.
Jet2 boss Stephen Heapy and Easyjet CEO Johan Lundgren said the green list needs to be expanded as soon as possible.
Mr Heapy said originally the Government pledged to reassess the traffic light list for approved countries every three weeks, meaning the next announcement would be due next week, but the timeline has already slipped.
“The green list could be expanded with very little risk,” he said.
Mr Lundgren said the UK Government was not even following the framework it created via the Global Travel Taskforce.
Regarding the islands policy, Manchester Airports boss Charlie Cornish said summer destinations with low infection rates and high vaccination rates should be allowed.
“The Canaries and Balearics should be on the green list,” he said.
Mr Cornish said even if destinations make it to the green list, the current restrictions for these countries are cumbersome.
“Green should mean green. Four [Covid] tests for travel to green countries is wholly unnecessary,” he said.
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