Green-list countries: which destinations will be added next?

Government ditches controversial plan for ‘amber travel watch-list’

The Algarve, Portugal
(Image credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has U-turned on plans for the creation of an “amber watch-list” for international travel following a backlash from MPs and travel industry bosses.

Spain, Greece and France were all rumoured to have been in the running to be added to the watch-list, which would include countries that would remain under amber travel restrictions, but that could be moved to red at short notice.

The prime minister yesterday said he instead favours a “simple” and “balanced approach” to foreign travel, after Tory backbenchers and Labour MPs “hit out” at the plan, arguing that it would be a “disaster” for international travel, Sky News reports.

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How does the system work?

The travel traffic-light system is based on the Covid-19 risk levels posed by each country. Britons can travel to those on the green list without having to quarantine when they return. However, many of these destinations are not allowing foreign visitors.

Fully vaccinated Britons arriving in England from “amber list” countries no longer have to quarantine following a change to the rules that began on 19 July. Being fully vaccinated means “14 days have passed since your final dose of the vaccine”, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said last month.

Only jabs given by the NHS allowed quarantine-free travel under the amber-list system until 3 August, meaning UK residents vaccinated abroad were still required to quarantine on return from an amber-list country. However, a rule change now means people who have been fully vaccinated in the US and EU can travel without quarantining on arrival in the UK.

Under the new rules, fully vaccinated people travelling from amber-list destinations are still required to take a test three days before going home and on the second day after returning, but will now be exempted from a day-eight test.

Tory MPs and Labour responded with anger to the shelved plan to introduce another tier to the system known as an “amber travel watch-list”, Sky News says. The list would have comprised countries “which could move to the red list with little warning”.

One Tory MP told The Telegraph that the plan was “genuinely vote-losing stuff”, adding: “People are genuinely pissed off with this.” The plan to add a sixth tier also triggered a backlash from the travel industry, with bosses warning that holiday plans for countries on the list would be cancelled as travellers were unwilling to take the risk.

The government is still advising against any travel to red-list countries.

What countries are on the green list?

A “traffic light reshuffle” on 24 June “finally heralded some positive news for the travel industry”, with 16 new additions added to the UK’s green list, as The Independent reported when the changes kicked in.

The additions took the tally to 29 countries and territories, which are:

  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • British Antarctic Territory
  • British Indian Ocean Territory
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Cayman Islands
  • Croatia
  • Dominica
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Grenada
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Israel and Jerusalem
  • Madeira
  • Malta
  • Montserrat
  • New Zealand
  • Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
  • Singapore
  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
  • St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
  • Taiwan
  • Turks and Caicos Islands

More than half have been on the green “watch list”, which means that “if conditions change in any of the countries, they are at risk of being moved to the amber or red list”, the BBC explains.

The i says that a further 12 countries could also qualify to be added to the “green watch-list”, namely Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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 Sorcha Bradley is a writer at The Week and a regular on “The Week Unwrapped” podcast. She worked at The Week magazine for a year and a half before taking up her current role with the digital team, where she mostly covers UK current affairs and politics. Before joining The Week, Sorcha worked at slow-news start-up Tortoise Media. She has also written for Sky News, The Sunday Times, the London Evening Standard and Grazia magazine, among other publications. She has a master’s in newspaper journalism from City, University of London, where she specialised in political journalism.