Virgin Atlantic Wants Quarantine Free Travel From The US

This week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that a new traffic light system for international travel would be implemented. This system will sort countries based on COVID-19 risk, with travel restrictions and pre-flight procedures tacked on accordingly. The CEO of Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss, told reporters today that he thinks the US should be on the ‘green list,’ where arrivals should require pre-flight testing but avoid quarantine on arrival.

Virgin Atlantic Wants Quarantine Free Travel From The US
Transatlantic operations are a key market for Virgin Atlantic. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

United States: A key market for Virgin Atlantic

According to Reuters, Virgin Atlantic CEO has told reporters the US should be in the green category of the UK’s upcoming traffic light system. This system would presumably offer three different tiers, green, amber, and red, with green countries experiencing the lowest level of travel restrictions.

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Shai Weiss says that Britons shouldn’t have to self-isolate – presumably upon their return from the US, but should require a test before and after travel.

The United States is one of Virgin Atlantic’s major countries in terms of destinations, meaning a green rating would likely lead to many more passengers. According to the airline’s website, it flies to the following US cities:

  • New York
  • Boston
  • Washington
  • Orlando
  • Miami
  • Atlanta
  • Las Vegas
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles

Some of these cities are only seasonal services when flown out of Manchester.

Virgin Atlantic Wants Quarantine Free Travel From The US
The Airbus A350-1000 has become the go-to aircraft for the airline during this health crisis. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Should the US be on the green list?

According to NationalWorld, the government has stated that countries will be judged using a number of criteria, “…for instance on vaccinations, infection rates, the prevalence of variants of concern, and their genomic sequencing capacity (or access to genomic sequencing).”

While the United States has a higher case rate at the moment, 2,822 cases per million compared to the UK’s 846 per million, the country’s vaccination rate has been soaring. In fact, CTV News reported today that the US President announced that the May 1st deadline to make all adults eligible for vaccination was being moved forward to April 19th.

Thus, with the UK’s international holiday ban going until at least May 17th, the US could do much better in terms of cases and new infections in a month’s time. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see whether the UK itself will lift its non-essential international travel ban next month or extend it:

“Given the state of the pandemic abroad, and the progress of vaccination programmes in other countries, we are not yet in a position to confirm that non-essential international travel can resume from [17 May]”. – UK Government statement via Sky News

Virgin Atlantic Wants Quarantine Free Travel From The US
Non-essential international travel is currently banned by the UK government. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Countries likely to be on the green list

Countries considered low risk will need to have their case counts under control and vaccination programs moving swiftly. NationalWorld speculates that Iceland, Portugal, Israel, Egypt, and Thailand should be among the nations on the green list, considering their relatively low case counts.

Given the pace of vaccinations in the country, do you think the US should be on the UK’s green list for its upcoming traffic light system? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.