An announcement is expected on Thursday of which countries, and perhaps some islands, will join the green list from Monday, June 7.
Media reports suggested Malta, some Greek islands, Finland and several islands in the Caribbean could join the list. Leading industry figures have demanded more.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren insisted “much of Europe could be opened to safe travel” and Tui northern region managing director Andrew Flintham argued: “Islands like the Balearics and the Canaries could move to the green list”.
However, an industry source noted the announcement had been expected just before the bank holiday and suggested the delay “indicates they’re holding off in light of the current uncertainty. It doesn’t bode well for a wider reopening, not that we expected much of an opening [from June 7].”
The source insisted “a number of destinations could meet the government’s criteria and be on the list”, but argued the June 28 review – which will combine the next review of the green list and the first ‘checkpoint’ of the traffic light system – remains a more important date.
The outcome appears increasingly bound up with whether the government decides to lift all domestic restrictions from June 21. That decision is due on June 14.
“Everything hinges on June 21,” said the source. “June 21 will dictate what is announced for travel and aviation from June 28. There will be no clarity until we know that decision.”
The hope is the June 28 review could see not only an extensive green list expansion but recognition of fully vaccinated passengers – reducing the need for repeated Covid tests and quarantine requirements – a review of PCR test requirements and a relaxation of controls on transit traffic via major hub airports.
One hope is an agreement can be reached to exempt vaccinated British and American travellers from quarantine restrictions when prime minister Boris Johnson meets US president Joe Biden at the G7 summit in Cornwall next week.
A quarantine-free air corridor with the US would be the first arrangement allowing vaccinated travellers preferential treatment by the UK.
The source noted: “The treatment of vaccinated passengers is key. Not being required to self-isolate if you’ve had both vaccination jabs would improve the situation for amber destinations. For green, you need a pre-departure test and a two-day test. Could that change? An awful lot could be done.
“We have a proportion of the public and the scientific community wanting a zero-risk approach and some who would like the whole thing opened up. None of us wants the government to blindly increase the risk to public health. Finding the sweet spot is the challenge.”
A second source described media speculation about the destinations likely to be added to the green list as “unhelpful”, suggesting “too many people have got it wrong”, and said: “We requested the government lock in the dates of the reviews to knock the speculation on the head. That was supposed to happen.”
However, the source argued: “We expect a dynamic few weeks with things changing weekly if not daily across Europe. It’s just the variants causing a problem now. We’re on the cusp of being able to unlock significantly, but we have this barrier of uncertainty.”
Source – travelweekly.co.uk