Popular island holiday spots could be moved to the green list of travel destinations, even if the mainland remains amber.
Ministers have hinted that islands, such as the Canaries and Balearics, could be given the green light to welcome visitors “where possible”.
‘An island approach’
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Aviation Minister Robert Courts has said that UK tourists could be allowed to visit islands through the traffic light system, even if high coronavirus infection rates prevent an entire country from being added to the green list.
Independent MP Margaret Ferrier asked transport ministers in a written question whether the traffic-light system would “include an island policy to reopen routes to relatively low-risk regions of nations as was implemented in summer 2020”.
Mr Courts’ response, first reported by the Telegraph, stated: “The government will take an island approach for border measures where possible.
“Changes to the traffic light country system will be reviewed and implemented every three weeks, unless concerning evidence means we need to act faster to protect public health.”
Such a move could mean holidaymakers will get the go-ahead to travel to the Greek Islands, the Canaries and the Balearics this summer, even if mainland Spain and Greece remain on the amber list.
Stick to green-list countries only
Low-risk regions and islands were added to the UK’s travel corridors list last year, independent of their mainland state, depending on their individual level of Covid-19 risk.
The opening of travel corridors led to a huge surge in bookings for the Canary Islands over the festive period, after it was added to the list in late October.
However, the corridor was short-lived as the Canaries was later removed again on 10 December, forcing thousands of holidaymakers to cancel their trips.
While some amber listed countries have opened their doors to UK tourists, including Spain, Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan urged the public to only visit destinations on green list.
Speaking to Times Radio, Mrs Trevelyan said: “The reality is, at the moment, amber countries are still not meeting the criteria for our scientists to say that they should be green.
“So the recommendation remains ‘don’t go unless you have to’, and remember that, if you do go, you will have to quarantine for 10 days and that will be monitored.
“The reason we ask people still not to go is because there is still too great a risk as far as our scientists are concerned.”
However, Fernando Valdes, Spain’s tourism minister, has said he is confident the country would be added to the UK’s green list following the next review of restrictions.
He told Sky News: “We do have some holiday destinations which are very loved by British tourists such as the Balearic islands, Costa Blanca or Malaga.
“With our notification rates which are pretty low and by the same notification range of the UK, so I have to suspect that on the next review that the UK Government can provide… Spain is going to change on its notification.”
When is the next travel update?
Government guidance states that the green, amber and red lists will be reviewed every three weeks.
The next review is expected to take place on 7 June, two week ahead of the final milestone in the lockdown roadmap in England.
A series of traffic light system checkpoint reviews will also be held in July and October, which will take into account the latest domestic and international data.
The briefing on international travel rules is expected to be given by Prime Minister Boris Johnson or Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.