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United Kingdom adds Bulgaria and Hong Kong to ‘Green list’, Balearic Islands back on ‘Amber list’

The government of United Kingdom has published the latest update to its traffic light travel lists, published one day before its usual slot for the week.

The Department for Transport said that the move – which is effective for travellers arriving into England from 0400 hours on Monday 19th July 2021 – had been taken ‘due to a sharp rise in the number of cases’.

Green list

From Monday 19th July 2021, two new countries will appear firmly on the UK government’s ‘Green list’. These two are Bulgaria and Hong Kong. Usually, these updates happen on a Thursday, but the announcement was brought forward by 24 hours for unknown reasons.

Additionally, Croatia and Taiwan have been added to the ‘Green Watchlist’, meaning they could be moved to amber at any time.

Amber list and Red list

Just two weeks after the Balearic Islands were moved to the Green list, the UK government has again revised this and moved them to the Amber list. A total of four Balearic islands will move to the amber list – Ibiza, Mallorca, Formentera and Menorca.

For those who are fully vaccinated, this won’t make much difference, since UK will allow quarantine-free travel to and from amber list destinations starting 19th July 2021. However, anyone who is presently on the islands and are not double-jabbed will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days, taking a PCR test on day two and day eight.

Also added to the amber list are the British Virgin Islands. Furthermore, Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone will be added to the Red list.

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Travel industry once again hit

Understandably, the travel industry is furious at today’s announcement. They have been once again hit by the travel restrictions. Just as airlines and tourism businesses were starting to ramp things up to green list destinations, the goalposts have moved again.

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, which represents British-registered carriers, said:

Today’s announcement reinforces the belief that the current government framework for international travel is not working as it was designed to … Moving countries between the tiers like this is shattering consumer trust during an already unpredictable booking season. It is time the government implemented a consistent and transparent travel policy, rather than the current rollercoaster ride of changes, which is condemning international travel to the status of second-class citizen.

Commenting on the news, Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said:

This will throw summer holidays into disarray for tens of thousands of people. Businesses given the lifeline of holidays to the Balearics will also be left floundering as bookings collapse and customers clamour for refunds, piling on further financial pressure. There may be some good news with Croatia and Bulgaria moving up the scale and being added to the green list. But the overall impact is one of confusion, which will only deter more Brits from holidaying abroad as the summer season slips away.

A spokesperson for travel association ABTA said:

Today’s decision to move the Balearic Islands to the amber list is a step back for the travel industry. Thousands of travel jobs and businesses are in desperate need of a successful summer season, and this further emphasises the urgent need for tailored financial support for a sector that has struggled to make any meaningful revenue for almost 18 months now. Helpfully, from Monday 19 July, fully-vaccinated travellers returning to England, Scotland and Wales from amber list countries will no longer need to self-isolate or take an additional test on day eight, so this will minimise the disruption for vaccinated holidaymakers, but quarantine for non-vaccinated travellers remains a significant obstacle. Consumer confidence is essential if the industry is to trade its way out of this crisis, so the Government must be more transparent about the criteria being used to move countries between the green, amber and red lists to allow travel businesses and customers alike to plan ahead. The Government also needs to continue to capitalise on the successful vaccine rollout by expanding the green list in line with scientific evidence and reducing the need for and cost of testing, which is a significant barrier to travel for many people. Sufficient border control resource must also be provided at our ports and airports to help make travel as smooth as possible.

Countries such as Poland, Hungary and Romania are maintaining an incidence of fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people and yet remain off the safe travel list which is the ‘Green list’. In contrast, the incidence in Croatia stands at 26.17 and in Bulgaria at 14.7.

What do you think of United Kingdom’s latest announcement? What do you think about the Balearic Islands being moved to the Amber list? Let me know in the comments section below.

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