Travel news latest: Foreign holiday ban comes into force ahead of ‘red list’ review
Overseas holidays are banned under UK law from today as new legislation comes into force – the tightened rules come as the Government is expected to review the list of “red list” countries, from which direct flights are banned.
It is now illegal to leave the UK without a “reasonable excuse” and anyone who travels to a port or airport with the aim of leaving the country could face fines of up to £5,000. The ban will remain in place until June 30, although could be changed in order to permit foreign travel after May 17.
It comes into effect following the news that a four-tier traffic light system could save summer holidays, with the Government considering a plan submitted by Heathrow Airport. Airlines, including BA, Virgin, EasyJet and Ryanair, said that under this plan “green tier” countries should have no restrictions.
Red list countries would remain under the proposed system and ministers are to discuss on Tuesday if France should be added after Oliver Dowden hinted that the “very worrying” third Covid wave in Europe could prevent holidays abroad this summer.
Mr Dowden said there were “challenges” with resuming international travel. “You only have to look across the continent and see the rising case rates in many of our nearest neighbours,” he told Time Radio on Sunday.
‘Airlines back simple red, amber and green’ system for travel restart
Heathrow’s proposed plan for resuming international travel includes four categories: green (no restrictions), yellow (Covid testing), amber (testing and short quarantine), red (direct travel ban and hotel quarantine).
However, Airlines UK, the trade body for UK registered airlines, said airlines are back a simpler system. A spokesperson said:
Airlines are backing a simple red, amber and green system for restarting international air travel from 17 May. If a country has low rates of Covid or high vaccination levels like the UK, restriction free travel would begin. Amber countries would require rapid tests to guard against any risk of imported infection for those not vaccinated, and only red countries would be subject to the strictest measures, where there are genuine risks around variants of concern.
As the vaccination rollout continues around the world, more countries would move to green status. We know universal pre-Covid travel won’t happen from day one, but with May still two months away, we have a workable framework that will enable aviation to help kickstart our post-covid recovery, whilst keeping the public safe.
France will be among the countries discussed as possible additions to the “red list”. These are the 35 countries currently on the list of places from which direct flights are banned. Britons arriving in England who have been in one of these countries in the previous 10 days are subject to 11 days in a quarantine hotel at a cost of up to £1,750 per person.
The four-tier traffic light system that could save summer holidays
Government considering proposal put forward by Heathrow Airport that includes an ‘amber’ three-day quarantine option, the Telegraph reported this weekend.
Heathrow Airport has submitted plans to Boris Johnson’s global travel taskforce proposing a four-tier traffic light scheme with an “amber” option of a customised three-day quarantine and testing regime specifically designed to combat the threat from new Covid variants.
The risk of importing variants – such as the South African and Brazilian versions now spreading in mainland Europe – is regarded by government scientists and Mr Johnson as the biggest hurdle to restarting international travel on May 17 and saving summer holidays.
The airport, whose boss John Holland-Kaye is influential in government circles, proposes that the amber alert would be triggered where a “variant of concern” was identified in a country and there was uncertainty among scientists about the risk it posed to the efficacy of the UK’s vaccine programme.