Scottish Daily Mail
12 HOLIDAY HOTSPOTS GET GREEN LIGHT
But with travel ban lifted at last, Turkey’s added to dreaded ‘red list’
HOLIDAYMAKERS were finally able to make plans for summer trips abroad last night – but only 12 destinations made the quarantine-free ‘green list’ and Turkey was placed under even stricter restrictions.
Portugal was the sole major European destination to make the cut for breaks from England after May 17, including its islands Madeira and the Azores.
In a massive blow for regular visitors to traditional hotspots Spain, France, Italy and Greece, the rest of Europe was ranked amber on the list, meaning travellers must isolate on their return.
Turkey, visited by two million Britons a year in pre-pandemic days, was added to the ‘red list’ along with the Maldives.
The Scottish Government is expected to give an update next week on whether it will follow the UK Government’s approach.
Airport bosses north of the Border have held meetings with ministers and believe Scotland will take part in a four-nation approach to international travel.
Last night, the tourism industry reacted with fury to the tally of green countries, branding it ‘a reopening of air travel in name only’.
Travellers to amber countries will have to self-isolate at home for at least five days on return, putting holidays to these destinations out of reach for many. Anyone travelling to red list countries must quarantine in hotels for 11 nights upon return at their own expense.
The news sparked a scramble among airlines to lay on more flights to Portugal.
Other countries that made the green list were Israel, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Brunei, the Falkland Islands, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
Hope remains that much of the rest of Europe will be upgraded to green status by July, as the list will be reviewed every three weeks. UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday confirmed that the ban on non-essential travel will be lifted on May 17.
He said the Government’s approach was ‘necessarily cautious’ to stop variants entering Britain, adding: ‘We in this country have managed to construct a fortress against Covid but the disease is still prevalent in other parts of the world. Nobody wants to go back into lockdown, not ever.
‘We must make absolutely sure that the countries we reconnect with are safe, that their infection rates are low, and that their vaccination rates are high.’
He sounded a note of optimism that more countries will be added to the list, saying ‘the signs overseas are now promising as a result of their vaccination programmes beginning to crank up’. He added: ‘As the summer progresses we hope more traditional tourists destinations will be unlocked. But we have to turn the key slowly.’
There was a furious reaction from the travel industry, which has been brought to its knees by Covid.
Tim Alderslade, chief of industry body Airlines UK, said: ‘This is a missed opportunity and, with so few countries making it on to the green list, represents a reopening of air travel in name only.’
Gloria Guevara, president of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said: ‘While we understand protecting public health should be the priority, the UK is being too cautious and risks losing its hard-won competitive advantage achieved by the early vaccine rollout.’ Virgin Atlantic said the reopening ‘fails to go far enough’, while British Airways chief Sean Doyle said it was ‘disappointing’ the Government was urging people not to visit amber countries.
He said the airline would be putting on additional flights between London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh to Faro.
Ryanair announced it would be laying on 175,000 more seats on planes to Faro, Lisbon and Porto.
But the cost of flights to Portugal surged ahead of last night’s announcement amid speculation it would make the green list, with some doubling in 48 hours.
In a further blow to holidaymakers, Border Force chief Paul Lincoln warned there could be lengthy queues at ports and airports due to Covid paperwork checks.