Britons can ‘start to think about’ booking foreign holidays

Brits eager to go abroad to see family, travel for business or go on holiday can now “start to think about” booking flights, the UK’s transport secretary has said.

Grant Shapps said he is “not telling people they shouldn’t book foreign holidays”, but added that it will be another two or three weeks until each country has been categorised on the government’s new traffic light list.

The list will categorise countries based on their Covid risk level. Green countries will only require a privately-paid laboratory PCR test before travel at both ends with no need to quarantine, while red countries will require a 10-day quarantine in a designated quarantine hotel. All tests and quarantines must be booked and paid for prior to departure.

Meanwhile, a “green watchlist” of countries will tell people which countries with green status could quickly slip into amber, in a bid to avoid people having to cancel plans at the last minute.

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“We can kind of flag that up to people and then they have a little bit of notice, rather than what we saw last year which was things changing very quickly,” said Shapps in a 9 April interview with Sky News.

The transport minister was himself caught out last year, holidaying in Spain with his family at the same moment that the UK government placed the country on a travel ban.

“We’re trying to find ways to improve the situation,” said Shapps. “But for the first time there’s a framework, and for the first time people are starting to think about not just international holidays, but the number of people with families abroad… and of course getting business restarted as well.”

The categorisation of countries for the system will be “under constant review”, the transport secretary said. However, there are three dates at the end of June, July and October at which the government will “review the system itself”, giving a chance for green countries to not require a test before travel, for example.

The government has yet to confirm whether foreign holidays will be permitted from 17 May — the date at which England’s lockdown system is set to ease. The list of countries will be set out by early May, Shapps said, at which time he will also confirm whether international travel can resume.

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To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Emily Nicolle

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