Good morning everyone. I will be running the blog today so feel free to drop me a message on Twitter with any coverage suggestions.
Hopes are rising for foreign holidays to be permitted from next month, with the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, saying the public could now “start to think” about overseas breaks this summer.
As the Guardian reported yesterday, from as early as 17 May, countries will be placed in a traffic light system with green, amber and red lists that will set out whether, and where, travellers must isolate on returning to England.
Destinations with the highest vaccination rates at present include the US, Israel, Chile and the Maldives, though there will be a “watchlist” to identify countries that could switch from green to amber.
People arriving in England from green-list countries will have to take a pre-departure virus test and a PCR test on the day after their return, but will not need to self-isolate or take any other tests.
While doing the media rounds this morning, Shapps, who said he wants to drive down the cost of Covid tests required for international travel to resume, told Sky News:
I’m not telling people that they shouldn’t book summer holidays now, it’s the first time that I’ve been able to say that for many months.But I think everybody doing it understands there are risks with coronavirus and of course actually, I think people would want to be clear about which countries are going to be in the different traffic light system. So there is only two or three weeks to wait before we publish that list itself. But yes, tentative progress, for the first time, people can start to think about visiting loved ones abroad, or perhaps a summer holiday.
Many in the travel industry have reacted with disappointment to the need to test, even from green-list countries, with warnings the requirements could make holidays unaffordable for many.
People coming from amber-list countries will have to take a pre-departure test, isolate for 10 days at home, and get tested on days two and eight after their journey.
From red-listed destinations, passengers will have to pay for a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, as well as a pre-departure test and two PCR tests
Criticising the government’s double testing requirement for returning travellers, the Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, told BBC Breakfast:
Why if you’re fully vaccinated, and you’re coming back from a low-risk country where there are no variants of concern, that the Government in its own judgment has said, why do you still need to take a 150 PCR test after you have arrived? I think for most people that would make no sense, and this is where we need to make sure that travel is something anyone can do and is not just something for the wealthy.
The government has not yet said which countries will be green, amber or red – but said it would do by early May.
We’re expecting to hear more reaction to the “traffic light” plan throughout the day.
Here is the agenda for today (so far):
09.30am ONS figures on social impacts of Covid-19 on disabled people
11.45am: National Education Union annual conference continues, joint general secretary’s speech
12.00: ONS weekly UK Covid-19 infection survey
For global coronavirus news, do read our global live blog: