Ministers say that from 17 May at the earliest international travel for leisure may be able to resume, and that countries would be placed in a traffic light system, with green, amber and red lists that would set out the rules for things such as testing and quarantining for those returning to England:
Green: passengers will not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) but must take a pre-departure test as well as a PCR test on arrival back in the UK.
Amber: travellers will need to quarantine for 10 days, as well as taking a pre-departure test and two PCR tests (on day two and day eight) with the option of paying for a private Covid-19 test on day five (the test to release scheme) to end self-isolation early.
Red: arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for red list countries, which include a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, as well as pre-departure testing and and two PCR tests.
The government says it is too early to predict which countries will be on which list over the summer. It has promised to set out “by early May” which countries will fall into which category, as well as confirming whether international travel can definitely resume from 17 May.
Which list a country is put on will depend on a number of factors including the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated, infection rates and the prevalence of “variants of concern”.
The plans have already been criticised by some in the travel industry, who said they risked creating a period when only the wealthy could afford to travel.