Breaking: Portugal, Gibraltar, And Israel Make UK Green List

The UK Government has confirmed that Portugal, Gibraltar, and Israel will all be placed on its green travel list from May 17th. The change will mean that travelers from these destinations will not need to quarantine on rearrival in the United Kingdom.

British Airways, United Kingdom, Green List
The UK’s Transport Secretary has revealed that 12 countries will be placed on the country’s green list. Photo: Getty Images

Over the past weeks, the travel industry has been eagerly awaiting the UK Government’s green list announcement. On May 17th, non-essential travel will be allowed to resume from the UK, hopefully allowing airlines to start to benefit from a late summer travel season. Twelve countries are set to be opened by the UK for quarantine-free return from May 17th.

Complete list of green countries

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary of the UK Government, revealed that 12 countries had been placed on the UK’s green list. These are,

  • Gibraltar
  • Israel
  • Portugal
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Brunei
  • Iceland
  • Faroe Islands
  • Tristan Da Cunha
  • St Helena
  • Ascension
  • Falkland Islands
  • Singapore
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
British Airways, United Kingdom, Green List
Most of the world remains amber or red. Map: (click the image to enlarge)

A limited number of holiday destinations

Sadly for many Brits keen to get away after being locked in the UK since the start of the year, the number of countries where they can realistically travel remains incredibly limited. Many of the countries that have made the green list will be pretty inaccessible from the UK. Looking at the map above, you can see that the main green area that stands out is Australia and New Zealand. Both of these nations remain closed to travelers from abroad.

The main destinations that stand out as suitable for travel for most Brits are Israel, Iceland, Portugal, and Gibraltar. As COVID numbers continue to fall and vaccination rates increase, other countries should make the green list in the coming months. The list will be reviewed every three weeks.

What does British Airways think?

British Airways is targeting travel to Israel, Portugal, and Gibraltar following the new announcement. It will likely be one of many airlines to see a massive surge in bookings due to the statement.

British Airways, Long-Haul, Revenue
Previous similar announcements from the UK government have seen considerable surges in bookings. Photo: IAG

Commenting on the announcement, British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said,

What’s clear is that with high levels of vaccination in the UK being matched by other countries, we should see more destinations going ‘green’ before the end of June. It’s disappointing to hear that despite the stringent safeguards introduced for travel from ‘amber list’ countries, the Government is now suggesting travellers avoid these. We cannot stress more greatly that the UK urgently needs travel between it and other low-risk countries, like the US, to re-start the economy, support devastated industries and reunite loved ones.

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How does the traffic light system work?

The traffic light system means that travelers will be treated differently depending on where they’ve come from. All travelers must still undergo two COVID-19 tests. Before traveling to the UK, a negative test must be obtained. Rapid tests such as those offered for free in Germany are generally accepted. All travelers must also take a PCR test on day two.

Green list arrivals won’t need to quarantine or do anything else apart from the above. Those from amber countries must take a second PCR test on day eight and quarantine for ten days. With a third negative test on day five, quarantine can be ended earlier.

Finally, travel is still restricted from red countries. Typically, only British citizens can travel from these countries, and direct flights aren’t permitted. Upon arrival in the UK, they are segregated and must quarantine in a hotel at their own cost for ten days.

United Kingdom, Stansted, Quarantine
It currently takes five to ten minutes to process each arriving passenger. Photo: Heathrow Airport

Five to ten minutes to check every passenger arriving in the UK

According to Paul Lincoln, Director-General of UK Border Force, it currently takes five to ten minutes to process each passenger entering the UK. Lincoln confirmed that the strict checks that have been brought in since the pandemic started would continue.

To streamline the entry process into the United Kingdom, Lincoln revealed several changes to the entry process are being made to speed up the entry process. This includes digitizing the passenger locator form to be used at eGates and increasing the number of Border Force agents manning immigration desks.

What do you make of the UK’s new green list announcement? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!