New travel traffic light system explained as PM set to announce plans for summer

Boris Johnson is expected to unveil a traffic light system determining which countries Brits can visit this summer under what conditions.

The Prime Minister is due to make a much trailed Easter speech on Monday in which he will address issues surrounding going abroad.

Under the current coronavirus lockdown roadmap, leaving the UK with one of a number of essential reasons is illegal until May 17.

At that point a traffic light system will come into force.

It will be based on a range of factors – including the proportion of a given country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

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The traffic light system will determine what measures must be taken on return to the UK
The traffic light system will determine what measures must be taken on return to the UK

Travellers arriving from countries rated “green” will not be required to isolate – although three pre-departure and post-arrival tests will still be needed.

One test must be no longer than 72 hours before you leave for Britain, and two – on the second and eighth day – after the traveller is back, the Daily Mail reports.

For those classed as “amber”, the restrictions will remain as they are with arrivals required to isolate for ten days on return to the UK.

The same testing regime must be carried out as for “green” countries, although those able to pay extra can pay to have a third test on day five, cutting isolation time.

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People coming back from “red” countries will have to follow the same testing protocol, but with no option for an early third test and hotel quarantine required.

Antigua is in contention to be on the "green" list
Antigua is in contention to be on the “green” list

It is likely that tests will be made cheaper than they currently are, so travellers aren’t required to fork out hundreds of pounds to get into the country.

While the government has not yet released a list of countries broken down by traffic light, using the likely criteria guesses can be made as to which nation is in which.

Israel is likely to be classified as “green” due to its high vaccination rate of 60 per cent and low infection rate of 27 cases per 100,000 people.

Other countries odds on to be in the same category are Malta, Portugal, Gibraltar, UAE, the US, Canada, Barbados, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Grenada, according to one analysis of vaccination and case rates.

At things currently stand countries like Turkey and Greece may be classified as “amber”, although the rate of infection on the European continent means the picture is rapidly changing.

Brazil, which recorded more than 90,000 cases in a single day on April 1 and is contending with its own variant, is a contender for the “red” list.

This all remains speculation however, and the government has said that the best course of action is to stay in the UK.

The Prime Minister is due to speak about the system on Monday
The Prime Minister is due to speak about the system on Monday

A spokesperson said it is “too early to predict which countries will be on which list over the summer”, adding: “as such, we continue to advise people not to book summer holidays abroad”.

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Under the current rules in England leaving the UK without a reasonable excuse risks a £5,000 fine.

Such excuses include work, studying, elite sports, medical reasons, care and assistance to a vulnerable person or a wedding of a close family member.

There is also a £200 fixed penalty notice for failing to fill in a travel declaration form for those planning to leave the UK.

Bosses from leading UK airlines have tried to dial up the pressure on Johnson to give them the green light for international travel within weeks, it has been reported.

The chief executives of British Airways, easyJet,, Loganair, Ryanair, Tui and Virgin Atlantic as well as trade body Airlines UK wrote to the PM as ministers made it clear the ban on foreign travel will be in place until at least mid-May.

Airline chiefs said in their letter, published by The Sun, they recognised restriction-free universal travel may not be possible by May 17.

“However there can be no economic recovery without aviation, and we are confident we now have the tools to enable a safe and meaningful restart to travel in May – allowing us to return to our job of reuniting friends and family, supporting trade and business and allowing Britons to enjoy a well-earned break again,” the letter stated.

It added: “We believe vaccinated passengers should not be subject to travel restrictions and that testing can also reduce the barriers to travel including for areas that are considered to present some risk.

“Only very high-risk areas would be subject to more stringent measures”

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