Residents of the UK in much need of a holiday abroad will find some solace in the fact that England, Scotland, and Wales (Northern Ireland is yet to announce a date) will begin to allow some international travel again on May 17. A new traffic light system will provide structure for travel.
This traffic light system and categorizes each country as either green, amber, or red with specific travel policies and protocols based upon the color classification. A nation’s classification is dependent on a consideration of a variety of factors including the following:
- Percentage of population who is vaccinated
- Current rate of infection
- Prevalence of more infectious variants
- Access to reliable genomic sequencing
It was expected that the green list would be relatively short which was in fact the case when the lists were finally released. The green list contains only 12 nations including the following:
- New Zealand
- Faroe Islands
- Falkland Islands
- South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands
- Helena, Tristan de Cunha, & Ascension Island
For countries that find themselves on the green list, UK residents will be able to travel to these nations without the need to self-isolate when they return. Travel will simply require a pre-departure COVID-19 test as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 48 hours of arrival back in the UK.
One surprise is that no Caribbean nations were included in the initial green list as it was expected that at least British Overseas Territories like Bermuda and Turks & Caicos would make the cut.
Additionally, a bit disappointing is that two nations on the list, Australia and New Zealand, currently have very limited travel exceptions. This unfortunately locks out British tourists from traveling to these nations, dropping the list of available green destination to only ten.
It is not known how often the UK will update the traffic light lists. As vaccinations rates rise, it can be hoped that more countries will be added.