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Britishholidaymakers got a much-needed boost in Thursday’s traffic light review, which added Malta, Madeira and the Balearic Islands to the quarantine-free travel register.
A swathe of Caribbean islands including Barbados and Antigua were also added to the green list, which now numbers 27 territories in total – although most are inaccessible to Britons.
However, all new additions bar Malta have been added to the as-yet-unused “green watchlist”, which signals they are at risk of turning amber.
Former vaccine star Israel has also been shifted down a notch to the green watchlist.
As has become comically customary, a random assortment of inaccessible overseas territories were also thrown in: notably the Pitcairn Islands, deep in the South Pacific, and British Antarctic Territory, which has no permanent residents.
The green list changes will come into effect from 4am on 30 June. From that date, holidaymakers returning from those nations need not quarantine, but must instead take just one post-arrival PCR test.
In further encouraging signs for UK holidaymakers, the government confirmed its intention to allow fully vaccinated travellers to skip quarantine when arriving from amber-listed countries, although they will still be required to take a test.
It intends this change to take effect from “later in the summer”, and will provide further details in July.
However, the travel industry reacted angrily that the review didn’t go further.
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of Advantage Travel Partnership, described the chaotic revelation of the expanded “green list” as “disgraceful”.
Cheap green list deals
Holiday firms and airlines have kicked into gear to put on more capacity to green-listed territories including Malta and the Balearics.
BA Holidays says travellers can now save up to £300 on summer holidays when booking before next Wednesday (coincidentally, also the date that the traffic light changes come into effect).
Here’s a taster: it’s offering seven nights in Malta, staying at the three-star Topaz Hotel, with flights and accommodation from £359pp.
Cathy Adams25 June 2021 10:20
French MEP says there should be a ‘harmonised’ approach to travel curbs
French MEP Veronique Trillet-Lenoir said there should be a “harmonised” approach to travel rules across the European Union and “third countries” such as the UK.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The European Union is concerned by the Delta variant and wants to act in a united and co-ordinated manner as much as possible.”
She said discussions are ongoing over decisions regarding “third countries” such as the UK.
“Clearly Germany, France and Portugal have already said that they needed a quarantine; what I really would like is a harmonised and co-ordinated manner, although I understand that the vision is not the same for southern and northern countries in Europe,” she added.
Asked if she thinks it might be necessary to have quarantine for UK travellers throughout all the EU nations, Ms Trillet-Lenoir said: “It is necessary to have harmonised measure in order to prioritise the sanitary issues.
“I’m very well aware of the economical issues, but until now both the EU and the UK have prioritised the sanitary aspect of the crisis and that’s the way to do it.”
Transport secretary says the new list provides ‘relief’
While the travel industry has said the new green doesn’t go far enough, the transport secretary has said it provides “a little bit of relief”.
Fourteen new countries and territories have been added to the government’s green list of destinations from which travellers do not have to self-isolate on their return, although just Malta has been added to the “full” green list.
Spain’s Balearic islands, Madeira and a number of Caribbean destinations are on the “green watchlist”.
Mr Shapps told Sky News this morning: “It does mean there is a little bit of relief for the travel industry and for people who wish to get away.
“It won’t be quite like it was in 2019 and the old days, but we are moving in a positive direction.”
Additional reporting by agencies
Cathy Adams25 June 2021 10:15
Woo, we’re going to Ibiza!
If Ibiza’s inclusion on the green list isn’t enough to make you sing the Vengaboys’ tune, what is?
Helen Coffey has the download on what you need to know, from what the entry requirements are to whether you’ll need to wear a mask on the beach.
Cathy Adams25 June 2021 10:05
Balearic Islands welcome green list inclusion
Former president of the Balearic Islands Jose Ramon Bauza welcomed them being added to the government’s green travel list this month.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Spanish islands are “looking forward to” welcoming Britons again.
He added: “It is a safe destination and our industry is absolutely more than prepared to have safe tourism.”
Asked if Spain will have to agree to a harmonised approach to quarantine rules if this is decided upon by the EU, he said it is important that decisions are taken “based on science” and are not “political”.
He added: “We know that vaccination is working very well and in fact in (the) UK it’s working so far.”
Madeira travel tips
Portuguese-owned island Madeira is back on the green list once again.
I flew out there on 17 May, the grand travel restart day, to see what holidays to the island looked like for visitors this summer.
Here are my must-see spots, and read the full report here.
Ride a Carreiro do Monte
These vintage wicker toboggans are the most exhilarating way to race 2km down Madeira’s steep hills. Powered by two carreiros wearing hefty rubber-soled shoes and traditional straw hats, the baskets used to be used to transport fruit and vegetables from Monte (meaning mountain) down to the capital Funchal. The only way I can describe it is like a slightly out of control waltzer.
Sail up the mountain in a cable car
The most effortless way to get up to Monte is by cable car, which shimmies 3,000m up the mountain from Funchal. The ride itself provides some stunning views: across the Atlantic Ocean, all blue and wild; and over the top of orange-roofed houses and green terraces growing fruit and vegetables.
Walk the levadas
Due to my nosebleed-speed visit, I didn’t get the chance to walk one of Madeira’s levadas, a deep channel, typically for irrigation, that cuts through the mountains. Best I got was peering at one from the coach.
Marvel at the Cabo Girão Skywalk
Staring 580 metres down through a glass floor isn’t everybody’s idea of a good time, but it’s quite an impressive sight. From the Cabo Girão Skywalk, views across Funchal, the ocean and the Islas Desertas (the Ronseal of islands – the only inhabitants are a large spider colony) unfurl.
Book a table at Design Centre Nini Andrade Silva Restaurant
Interior designer Nini Andrade Silva lent her expertise to the eponymous restaurant, right by the cruise ship dock in Funchal (unsurprisingly empty right now). The restaurant is housed in a glass box atop a lifestyle store below selling all kinds of uber-cool trinkets and has the best views back over the bay.
Eat skewered meats
Espetadas are the skewers of meat that are a hallmark of the Madeira islands. Dressed in salt, laurel leaves and a lot of garlic, the skewers are hung from metal hooks on the table, and drip juices onto the table below. We ate at Vila de Carne in Funchal, but that’s just one of many places to try this speciality.
Gawp at the Ronaldo sculpture
Madeira’s most famous son, Ronaldo, is immortalised in bronze outside arrivals at the airport (currently wearing a face mask). This statue is not the first iteration, unveiled in 2017 by sculptor Emanuel Santos, which was widely mocked; it’s since been replaced by a better likeness of the footballer.
Cathy Adams25 June 2021 09:46
Simon Calder is doing an ‘Ask Me Anything’
Need to talk about the green list? Us too. Thankfully The Independent’s Simon Calder is on hand today at 12pm to do an ‘Ask Me Anything’ on everything to do with traffic lights and the green list.
All you need to do is comment in the box at the bottom of the article here, and join the conversation at 12pm.
Cathy Adams25 June 2021 09:39
Malta travel rules
Malta was added to the UK’s green list on Thursday – the only holiday island to receive “full” green status.
But what are its own entry requirements, and what are the rules when you’re there?
The Independent’s Helen Coffey has everything you need to know here:
Cathy Adams25 June 2021 09:32
Decisions are ‘all based on science’, says minister
The transport secretary has insisted the government approach to traffic light reshuffles is “all based on the scientific evidence”.
Just Malta was added to the “full” green list, with a swathe of other holiday islands added to the “green watchlist”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Grant Shapps said the Joint Biosecurity Centre is tracking epidemiological data such as a country’s vaccination levels, their ability to track the genome sequencing of Covid-19, and how open they are with data.
He was asked about arguments that some destinations, such as some Greek islands and the US, should be added to the green list according to data.
Mr Shapps said: “It’s all based on the scientific evidence”, adding that some islands often lack a genomic sequencing ability, while in the US the “picture is mixed”.
“There’s no circumstance in which there is not a scientific basis and I encourage people to look at the way that the Joint Biosecurity Centre do this,” he said.
Additional reporting by agencies
Cathy Adams25 June 2021 09:12
Fancy a trip to the… Pitcairns?
Well, some good news. Some random overseas territories are now on the green watchlist, including the super remote Pitcairn Islands deep in the Pacific Ocean or British Antarctic Territory (yes, on Antarctica).
In fact, the journey is so long to both that it might take you longer than the 10 days of self-isolation to get there.
The phenomenal distance of Britain’s far-flung territories is not the only drawback: the temperature at the British Antarctic Territory’s Rothera research station on Thursday was -1C (-10C in the wind) and it has been enduring midwinter darkness for weeks.
Cathy Adams25 June 2021 09:09