From the moment UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, mentioned in his Road Map for England that 17 May could be the earliest day for the restart of holidays, the entire travel industry has struck a ready to take off pose.
Yet, it seems, there is still a long road ahead before any certainty could settle on the question of foreign travel.
When will international travel be allowed again?
Today (5 April) at the Downing Street briefing, the PM remained very cautious and indicated that the resumption of foreign holidays could be pushed back beyond 17 May saying:
“We can see waves of sickness afflicting other countries.
“I do not wish to give hostages to fortune or underestimate the difficulties being experienced in countries people might want to go to.
“The Global Travel Taskforce is going to report later on this week. We will be then setting out before 17 May what we think is reasonable.”
Currently, France, Germany and Italy are experiencing steep rises in incidences of Covid.
Going forward, there will be a risk assessment and countries will be judged on factors such as the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, the presence of emerging new variants, and access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
Once the risk assessment has been formulated countries will be tagged as follows:
GREEN: No quarantine, but a test must be undertaken before and after travel
AMBER: Quarantine at home for 10 days and tests before and after 5 days after returning.
RED: UK residents only will be allowed to enter the UK, and those that do will have to quarantine in a designated hotel at their own expense.
The government said that it still too soon to predict which countries will make it onto the green list and continues to advise against booking holidays abroad this summer.
The reaction from officials at Heathrow airport expressed disappointment that the government did not take the opportunity to give definite dates for travel. The government says it
“will confirm in advance whether non-essential international travel can resume on 17 May, or whether we will need to wait longer before lifting the outbound travel restriction”.
Covid Status Certification (aka Vaccination Passport)T
Covid certification will most likely play a part in getting foreign travel off the ground and for the mass events. This will be developed in the coming months with trials starting as soon as mid-Apri. In due course and this certificate would consider three things: immunity i.e. those who have had the virus before and have antibodies, vaccination status and proof of a negative covid test.
The global travel task force will be revealing its report on April 12 about the way forward.
In the mean time, lateral flow tests are now freely available from the NHS and the PM encouraged everyone to take a test twice a week if they can.
At the moment it is illegal to travel abroad and flouting this rule invites a hefty fine of £5,000. Domestic travel will be allowed from 12 April.