The much-anticipated announcement on the new-look UK green list has seen Malta, Madeira, the Balearics and some Caribbean islands added to the list of destinations from which travellers will not have to quarantine from next Wednesday, 30 June.
The other green-list destinations are Anguilla, Antigua, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Israel, Madeira, Malta, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands.
However, all these destinations with the exception of Malta are on the UK’s ‘green watchlist,’ which means that while they don’t have a quarantine requirement they can be moved into amber at a moment’s notice, as happened with Portugal earlier this month.
Northern Ireland Steals a March on Grant Shapps
Although the changes announced by transport minister Grant Shapps apply to all four nations of the United Kingdom, the Northern Ireland Executive got ahead of the curve and published their list a couple of hours beforehand.
The new list includes 27 destinations – nearly all of them islands – although some of these are not easily accessible to travellers from the UK or Northern Ireland, including the Pitcairns or the Antarctic.
No Reason to Celebrate
The announcement came as something of a damp squib to many in the UK travel industry.
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “Any extension of the green list is welcome, however small, but we also have to be realistic: this is not yet the meaningful restart the aviation industry needs to be able to recover from the pandemic.
“While this is not yet the vaccine dividend people in the UK had hoped for, it is welcome that Government intends to exempt fully vaccinated travellers from quarantine.
“We urge the Government to publish details on its plans and implement them as soon as possible to save what remains of the summer season.”
ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer, said: “Every addition to the green list is welcome, but in reality – with several of these popular holiday destinations being placed on the green watchlist – this will not on its own deliver the meaningful restart of international travel that the industry desperately needs.
“If the government is going to continue to place such tight constraints on our ability to trade, we need them to commit to a package of tailored financial support for the sector, which recognises that the travel industry’s recovery will be slower than that in other sectors of the economy.
“Travel companies are facing increased furlough and business rates costs next week and – with travel to the most popular holiday destinations still largely restricted – they will simply not have the money to do so.”
Malta Tightens Restrictions for UK Holidaymakers
Malta is the only green-list country not on the UK’s watchlist, but it has moved quickly to tighten restrictions on UK arrivals by requiring h0lidaymakers to be vaccinated.
Those that aren’t will have to self-isolate on arrival.
Malta has yet to make clear whether it will accept the NHS app as a ‘vaccination passport.’