Spain’s Balearic islands, Malta, Madeira, and some islands in the Caribbean – including Barbados – have been added to England’s travel green list, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced.

The Balearic islands are made up of Ibiza, Menorca, Majorca and Formentera.

The move means those heading to some popular holiday hotspots will not have to quarantine on their return following the latest review of the travel traffic light system.

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‘We’ve got to be guided by science’ on travel

The changes come into effect at 4am on Wednesday 30 June.

However, all of the new additions to the quarantine-free travel list, with the exception of Malta, will also be added to the government’s ‘green watchlist’, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

The ‘watchlist’ will also include Jerusalem and Israel.

It means these countries “are at risk of moving from green to amber”, the department said, noting that “passengers are urged to take extra care when thinking about travelling to green watchlist countries”.

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People sunbathe and swim on El Arenal beach in Palma de Mallorca
Image: Travel companies have been pushing for more destinations to be added to the government’s green list

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added it is “right” to say a country on the so-called ‘green watchlist’ could be moved back to amber before the next official travel review point in three weeks’ time.

“Where there have been maybe cases where we… wanted to flag up that there may be issues down the line we have used the green watch list just to let people know, and remind people really, that it is possible in this pandemic for things to move and change quickly,” he said.

“But nonetheless, for the time being, they are on the green list and that means you can come back without quarantining – subject to a test on return.”

Mr Shapps added the government hopes to be able “to do more” in the future, but “will only ever be guided by the science”.

Caribbean islands that are going on the green list are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Also on the go list are Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, and the Pitcairn Islands.

Mainland Portugal and Spain remain on the amber list.

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The COVID situation around Europe

Meanwhile, Eritrea, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda have been added to the government’s red list, where visitors face a 10-day mandatory hotel quarantine period on their return.

These countries have transitioned to the red list “to safeguard domestic vaccine rollout”, the Department for Transport said.

It added that they “present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern”.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said Labour support a “limited, safe green list and it expanding” but want more data on the case rates in each of the new countries added.

“We all want to see the safe reopening of international travel but at the same time securing our borders against variants – so we do support having a limited, safe green list and it expanding,” he said.

But Mr Thomas-Symonds added that MPs need “the proper opportunity to question this whole proposal”.

“Secondly, we also need to see full clarity on the data, precisely why some countries are on the green list and others are not – because that clarity has been missing in the past,” he said.

The traffic light rules mean:

Green list: Those returning from green locations are not required to self-isolate but they must take one post-arrival coronavirus test.

Amber list: People arriving in the UK from amber list countries have to take two post-arrival tests on day two and day eight after arriving and self-isolate at home for 10 days, although they can reduce that time if they take an additional negative test on day five. The government does not recommend people go to amber list nations, unless it is essential.

Red list: Only British and Irish nationals are allowed into the UK from red list countries and quarantine at a government-approved hotel is mandatory.

Mr Shapps said it is right that the country continues with a “cautious approach” when it comes to international travel.

“We’re moving forward with efforts to safely reopen international travel this summer, and thanks to the success of our vaccination programme, we’re now able to consider removing the quarantine period for fully vaccinated UK arrivals from amber countries – showing a real sign of progress,” he said.

“It’s right that we continue with this cautious approach, to protect public health and the vaccine rollout as our top priority, while ensuring that our route out of the international travel restrictions is sustainable.”

The measures will be kept “under review”, the department warned, adding that “further action may be taken to protect public health”.

Travellers looking to embark on a foreign holiday this summer will likely face longer wait times at airports, the department also said.

The same changes have been in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

At present, UK tourists can travel to Malta without quarantine on arrival as long as they present a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure and complete a passenger locator and public health declaration form.

File photo dated 22/08/20 of passengers in the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport, London. The much-anticipated green list of countries that tourists can visit without quarantining on their return will be published on Friday. Issue date: Friday May 7, 2021.
Image: The changes will come into effect on 30 June at 4am

Tourists heading from the UK to the Balearic islands do not have to provide a negative COVID test on arrival, although some accommodation may require proof of a negative test.

In Malta, face coverings remain mandatory in public places for those aged over three and are recommended to be worn on beaches.

People must sit in tables of up to six people in cafes and restaurants and bars and clubs are open until midnight.

In the Balearics, most shops, bars and restaurants remain open but face coverings should be worn in the majority of public places.

Spain’s Balearic islands and Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal, are on the UK government green list.

This is the second review of the government’s travel lists since the traffic light system came into force on 17 May.

It comes after the PM postponed the easing of domestic restrictions in the UK by four weeks to the 19 July earlier this month due to rising cases of the Delta variant.

At the government’s last travel list update at the beginning of June, Portugal moved from the green list to the amber list, forcing many travellers to scramble back to the UK before the quarantine deadline.

Each country is assessed based on a range of factors, including what proportion of a population is vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Tourists queue at Faro airport
Image: Tourists had to rush back from Portugal to avoid quarantine after the country was moved to the amber list earlier this month

There have been calls from holidaymakers and travel firms for more countries to be moved from the amber list and for the government to drop the self-isolation rules for those who have had both jabs.

ABTA chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said the industry must receive a package of “tailored financial support”.

“Every addition to the green list is welcome, but in reality – with several of these popular holiday destinations being placed on the green watchlist – this will not on its own deliver the meaningful restart of international travel that the industry desperately needs,” he said.

Meanwhile Grenada’s minister for tourism, civil aviation, climate resilience and the environment Dr Clarice Modeste Curwen said she was “delighted” the country has moved to the UK’s green list.

“With just 161 cases of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic and zero new reported cases locally since February, we are ready to welcome UK visitors back to our beautiful islands,” she said.

Fully vaccinated people in England will be able to travel to an amber list country without having to quarantine on their return “later this summer”, the government plans.

Virgin cabin crew were among those protesting outside parliament
Image: Members of the travel industry protested against the restrictions placed on international trips earlier this week

But those hoping to book a late summer getaway could face another obstacle – with German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling for travellers from the UK to be quarantined wherever they arrive in the EU, due to growing fears over the spread of the Delta variant.

“In our country, if you come from Great Britain, you have to go into quarantine – and that’s not the case in every European country, and that’s what I would like to see,” she said.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News that Mrs Merkel’s comments were “unjustified”.

The announcement came after Boris Johnson indicated earlier on Thursday that a relaxation of travel rules for those who have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine is on the horizon.

There is a “real opportunity” to “open up travel through the double jab”, the prime minister said.

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The prime minister said there is a ‘real opportunity’ to ‘open up travel through the double jab’

The UK reported 16,703 new COVID-19 cases and another 21 coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period, according to government data.

A total of 43,656,327 first jabs have been administered in the UK, while 31,908,103 people have been fully vaccinated.

Earlier on Thursday, Public Health England said that cases of COVID continue to rise in all parts of the country.

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