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Here's The Covid Situation In The UK’s Top 10 Holiday Destinations Ahead Of Global Travel Taskforce Announcement

Here's The Covid Situation In The UK’s Top 10 Holiday Destinations Ahead Of Global Travel Taskforce Announcement

Brits will have to wait until Friday to find out where they can holiday to without having to quarantine upon their return (Alamy)

8 min read

The government is set to announce on Friday where UK holidaymakers can travel to without having to quarantine, but there are fears many popular vacation destinations will not be on the “green list” of countries.

The next stage of Boris Johnson’s roadmap is due to arrive on 17 May, and include the resumption of foreign travel for the first time since the third lockdown came into force.

However it is believed potentially only a handful of countries will be in the lowest category, which means Brits arriving back will not have to self-isolate, after the PM played down expectations for the government’s ‘traffic light’ system, warning reopening borders too quickly could lead to “an influx of disease”.

The green list, where travellers will simply have to take two tests, one before taking off and another on arrival home, is expected to include the Seychelles, Gibraltar, Malta, as well as Israel and much of Scandinavia.

Most of Europe is likely to be on the “amber list”, with people required on top of the tests to isolate for 10 days at home, although they can be released after five days if they have a third negative PCR result.

The existing “red list” countries are those where UK citizens must pay £1,750 to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days on arrival to prevent the import of new variants, with India the most recent addition to the category.

Advice on which will be in each category will be presented to the Prime Minister by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, and is based on the level of coronavirus in destination countries, the vaccination rates, the prevalence of mutant variants and their testing capability.

The system will be reviewed every three weeks, so potentially more places could be available for travel by the middle of summer, but this is the current situation in the top 10 destinations for UK holiday-makers from pre-Covid times:

Spain

Number of UK visitors in 2019: 18 million

Percentage of country vaccinated: 25%

Average case rate per 100,000 people: 55

By far the most popular country for UK travellers in the past decade, Spain is desperate to get its tourism industry back on track, but it seems very unlikely to be placed on the “green list” this month.

Despite having dramatically reduced the number of new cases from a third wave early this year, and seeing monthly deaths in April fall to its lowest level since last summer, the 7-day average of positive tests is still around 10,000, and the case rate is at 250.

The nation’s tourism minister Fernando Valdés said a pilot of the EU-wide digital Covid certificate would take place this month, in the hope of travel returning in June, but for UK tourists any trip is expected to come with a mandatory period of self-isolation upon return.

France

Number of UK visitors in 2019: 10 million

Percentage of country vaccinated: 23%

Average case rate per 100,000 people: 221

The second-most popular destination has been struggling with a devastating rise in cases this year, and coupled with a sluggish vaccine rollout had prompted speculation France may be placed on the government’s “red list”.

That was dismissed by ministers, citing the UK’s reliance on travel to and from the country for trade, with most food imports arriving through the port at Dover and the Channel Tunnel.

As for holidays France has already begun removing lockdown measures and hopes to be able to welcome visitors for its vital tourism industry from next month, but it looks set to be on the “amber list” for a while.

Italy

Number of UK visitors in 2019: 5 million

Percentage of country vaccinated: 24%

Average case rate per 100,000 people: 131

Another western European country which has been struggling with a third wave of coronavirus in recent weeks, Italy appears to be over the worst of it but is still averaging 11,000 new cases per day - while Britain is down to 2,000.

It also seems unlikely to be on the green list this month, despite prime minister Mario Draghi declaring: “Italy is ready to welcome back the world” at a press conference this week as the country announced it will also join the EU-wide Covid pass.

USA

Number of UK visitors in 2019: 5 million

Percentage of country vaccinated: 44%

Average case rate per 100,000 people: 101

The only country in the top 10 destinations that is outside of Europe, it also has a much higher vaccination rate than the other nations, prompting speculation a travel corridor could be put in place with Britain.

But with the US State Department increasing their “do not travel” list to 200 countries last month, plus the UK government sounding cautious about opening up tourism to a nation divided by state on how seriously it is taking the pandemic, the trips to New York or Disneyworld may have to wait until later in the summer.

Ireland

Number of UK visitors in 2019: 5 million

Percentage of country vaccinated: 23%

Average case rate per 100,000 people: 61

The UK’s nearest neighbour presents a trickier prospect on travel given its land border and deep human and trade ties, but tourism seems off the cards until July after the country's prime minister Micheál Martin unveiled plans to come out of lockdown.

While relaxations in a number of areas come into force from Monday, his televised address gave no date for the resumption of international travel.

But deputy PM Leo Varadkar hinted a specific rule for Britain could come sooner than for other countries, saying: "We may need to consider free travel between the UK and Ireland before we open up to wider international travel."

Holland

Number of UK visitors in 2019: 3.5 million

Percentage of country vaccinated: 22%

Average case rate per 100,000 people: 269

Another popular destination destined for the amber list, it is still suffering from a very high case rate, while many of its neighbours appear to be on the downslope of a third wave, Holland is still not over the hump.

Having ended its controversial nightly coronavirus curfew last week, the caretaker Dutch government has now had to postpone the next stage of national reopening, scheduled for Tuesday, and despite an increase in vaccination rollout it appears likely to miss its target of jabbing 1.5 million people a week in May.

Greece

Number of UK visitors in 2019: 3.5 million

Percentage of country vaccinated: 22%

Average case rate per 100,000 people: 126

Despite hefty amounts of lobbying by the Greek government it is likely to find itself on the amber list this month, but like Spain and France it is being pencilled in to join the green list by the time summer holidays are set to begin in earnest.

There had been hopes the country’s popular islands, like their Spanish counterparts, could separately make it onto the green list as they are reporting fewer Covid cases than the mainland - and the i newspaper is now reporting Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, Kos and Zante will be in the first tranche of countries allowing quarantine-free travel.

Germany

Number of UK visitors in 2019: 3.5 million

Percentage of country vaccinated: 28%

Average case rate per 100,000 people: 158

On 16 April Germany removed the UK from its own “red list”, meaning arrivals will no longer need to quarantine for up to 10 days.

But with less than 30% of Germans vaccinated and the country still not past its third wave peak the British government is not set to reciprocate, with the country all-but certain to be on the amber list.

Portugal

Number of UK visitors in 2019: 3 million

Percentage of country vaccinated: 25%

Average case rate per 100,000 people: 28

The only country in this list which seems certain to be on the green list, Portugal’s vaccination rate is no better than its European neighbours - but critically its case rate and number of deaths is comparably very low and has stayed low since infections peaked at the end of January.

Last year their foreign affairs minister Augusto Santos Silva told the BBC the UK’s decision not to create a travel corridor with his nation as “absurd… senseless and unfair”, but despite being on the red list in February due to links with Brazil and its dangerous variant, British holidaymakers will be able head back to the Algarve within weeks without having to self-isolate on their return.

Poland

Number of UK visitors in 2019: 3 million

Percentage of country vaccinated: 24%

Average case rate per 100,000 people: 114

Poland sneaks onto the top 10 destination list thanks in part to the large Polish population in the UK, but the 800,000 expats will not be able to travel between the countries quarantine-free this month.

The seven-day infection numbers are a quarter of their 28,000 per day high at the start of April, but the case rate is still five times that of Britain currently, with half the level of vaccinations.

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