UK Travel: Which Holiday Islands Could Be Green Listed This Summer From Portugal To Spain?
International travel from the UK has been given the green light to resume from May 17, the government said. From that date, the journey will begin under a traffic light system, in which countries are assigned green, orange, or red, depending on their perceived risk of spreading Covid.
Green countries will apply the lightest restrictions: no quarantine, but arrivals will have to pass a test before departure and a test after arrival. Arrivals from Red List countries must enter hotel quarantine for 11 nights at their own expense.
Countries will be sorted by color in early May, although the exact date is unknown.
However, the same color designation may not apply to the whole country. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said an “island approach”, similar to 2020, will be adopted this summer.
“I want to do this again,” Shapps said at a ConservativeHome online event. “I don’t want to go back, I want to move forward.”
So which vacation islands could be green?
What happened in 2020?
A handful of countries in Europe were given a ‘travel lane’ in July last summer, which did not require quarantine or testing upon their return to the UK.
In September, the approach was changed to classify islands that had a lower infection rate than their related countries as “green”.
Until the mandatory quarantine for all arrivals was reinstated, this meant that visitors to certain islands in Spain, Portugal and Greece did not need to self-isolate on their return to the UK.
Which countries are likely to be on the green list this summer?
While the list won’t be revealed until early May, there are some clear trailblazers.
Gibraltar, where most adults have already been vaccinated, is pretty much a certainty.
Directly across the Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco saw its already low number of cases drop sharply from November 2020 to the end of March 2021.
Israel is the main country with the best vaccine deployment, and partly due to the success of the program, the number of cases has fallen sharply from a peak in January. He announced that vaccinated British tourists will be able to visit from the end of May.
Travel industry expert Paul Charles estimates that up to 30 countries will be on the green list. He estimated that the following countries could be designated green from the start: Israel, Barbados, Morocco, Maldives, Seychelles, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Antigua and the British overseas territories of Bermuda, Turks and Caicos Islands, Falkland Islands and Saint Helena.
Which islands could be on the green list?
The German Robert Koch Institute, which advises the Berlin government on areas at risk, has taken a granular approach throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
His latest advice excludes the Balearic Islands – mainly Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza – from the “risk zone” status applied to most of Spain.
The number of cases in the Canary Islands, especially Tenerife and Gran Canaria, is higher than in the Balearics, but declining – Lanzarote and Fuerteventura being significantly lower.
The peripheral island of El Hierro, visited by very few tourists, has seen an increase in the number of cases in the past month.
Portugal’s health directorate says parts of Madeira and the main Azores island, Sao Miguel, currently have high levels of coronavirus. The other eight islands in the Azores are considered low risk.
The latest Covid map produced by the Greek government rates several islands as very high risk, including Chios, Evia, Kos, Lesbos, Poros, Thassos and Zakinthos (Zante).
But the warnings for Mykonos and Hydra have been relaxed at high risk, which applies to much of the rest of Greece.
Last fall, some of Greece’s most popular islands, including Corfu, Crete and Rhodes, were granted non-quarantine status.
What about other European islands?
The Italian islands of Capri, Procida and Ischia could be on the green list, thanks to a project by the Italian government to create “islands without Covid”. Authorities plan to vaccinate all residents of the holiday islands in order to bring back tourists.
The Italian plan prioritizes residents of the islands – including Sicily, Capri and the island of Elba in Tuscany – to get vaccinated in order to boost tourism.
The mayor of Capri, Marion Lembo, is also hoping that this could allow an “island without Covid this summer”.
And what about the Caribbean?
Mr Charles believes a handful of Caribbean islands could be on the green list, including vacation favorites Barbados, Antigua and St. Lucia.
Many Caribbean islands have very low infection levels, thanks to rigorous testing and quarantine requirements.
And even further?
Seychelles had a high-profile reopening to tourists, vaccinated and unvaccinated, in mid-March.
Micronesia, in the South Pacific, has recorded just one case of Covid and no deaths, while neighboring Tahiti has announced it will reopen to tourists from May 1. The island nation has fewer than 20 cases of Covid per week.
The Maldives also has a good chance of being on the green list, travel consultant Paul Charles has previously said.
The country reopened its borders in July 2020 and does not require tourists to self-quarantine – simply submitting a negative Covid PCR test result issued no more than 96 hours before departure. He also announced his intention to offer tourists the opportunity to get vaccinated upon arrival as part of his campaign to attract vacationers.