It plans to categorise countries according to their risk based on their vaccination rates, the prevalence of Covid and its variants, and their capability to sequence the genome of the virus.
They will be rated green, amber and red with different restrictions on travel in each of the three categories.
Will I need to quarantine?
You will only be free from quarantining for 10 days when returning from a green list country – but you will still be required to take two tests. One must be taken within 72 hours of departure (and show a negative result) and one must be a PCR test on or before the second day after you arrive back.
Travel to amber countries will require you to quarantine for 10 days on your return. You also need to have a negative test before departure, and then PCR tests on days two and eight. You can take the second test on day five, and if negative, you can leave quarantine.
Foreign travel is banned from red list countries and returning Britons have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days at a cost of up £1,750 per person (including two PCR tests).
How do I get a covid test to travel?
The Government hopes to provide free rapid lateral flow tests for holidaymakers to take with them for use as pre-departure tests before they return.
If this cannot be agreed, you will be required to buy a pre-departure test – either lateral flow or the more expensive gold standard PCR version. But it will have to meet a standard set by the Government. Lateral flow tests can cost between £5 and £50, depending on quality.
On your return, you will need to use the Government’s approved list of private test providers to order and buy a PCR test, which cost between £100 and £150. This will need to be pre-booked before you return and confirmed on your passenger locator form.
Henry Smith, the Tory chairman of the all-party Future of Aviation Group, which represents more than 100 MPs and peers, said: “I remain concerned that this is unduly burdensome and costly for the average passenger.
“It won’t provide confidence for travellers to book up holidays from May 17. I think this will seriously impinge upon an aviation and travel revival, certainly for this spring and probably into summer.”
However, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, told Sky News that he was looking to “drive down the costs” of coronavirus tests required for international travel to resume.
What is the point of taking a test if I don’t need to quarantine?
PCR tests allow government scientists to collect and analyse samples of the virus which is why they are reluctant to allow the less accurate lateral flow tests be used. Ministers want the tests in place so scientists can check if any variants are coming into the UK from a green list destination.
Am I exempt if I have been fully vaccinated?
Vaccinated people are not exempt from taking the tests. The government has announced that PCR test results will be required from vaccinated travellers, amid concerns that new variants could emerge in safe “green list” countries.
When will I be able to travel and which countries can I go to?
The Government aims to replace the current ban on foreign travel with the traffic light system from May 17 but it is unlikely to make a decision until May 10 when it has more data on the progress of the virus abroad.
The Government will publish its list of “green” countries at that point but it is likely initially to be limited, possibly to single figures before increasing later in the summer. Ministers propose to review the country lists on June 28.
High vaccination rate countries that could be in the first wave include Israel, the USA, UAE, Bahrain, Singapore, Gibraltar and Malta.