Traffic light reshuffle expected later today
Most of Europe sits on the amber list, including former green lister Portugal, which was downgraded at the last reshuffle at the start of June.
Ministers are understood to be cautious about the reshuffle.
Environment secretary George Eustice told Sky News that the government was “proceeding with caution”.
He said: “I want us to get back to a position where we can support those who want to travel to do so. Nobody likes the draconian restrictions we have had to put in place over this last year as we have wrestled with the pandemic.
“So, yes, we want to get to a position where we can support people who want to travel to be able to do so, but it is difficult.”
Busy day for Manchester airport
Manchester airport is predicting 5,000 passengers will pass through today.
The figure on the corresponding day in 2019 was 105,000. But at nearly 5 per cent of usual passenger numbers, the airport is doing significantly better than in April, when the figure was 3 per cent.
The top destinations are Spain and Portugal, both on the “amber list” requiring 10 days of self-isolation on return.
Angela Merkel calls on other countries to quarantine Britons
George Eustice, the environment secretary, claimed the move was not necessary – despite the UK itself currently requiring 10-day isolation on return from all EU destinations.
“I don’t think such a move would be justified, but obviously it’s for individual countries to make these judgments,” he said.
The row comes after the German Chancellor called for a united EU approach, after rocketing cases of the Delta variant in the UK put it at the top of the table for Covid infections.
The Independent’s Rob Merrick has the full report here.
Ministers are ‘cautious’, says environment secretary
Cabinet minister George Eustice said the government would take a cautious approach to changes to travel restrictions.
Changes to the traffic light system are due to be set out on Thursday and the environment secretary told Sky News: “I want us to get back to a position where we can support those who want to travel to do so. Nobody likes the draconian restrictions we have had to put in place over this last year as we have wrestled with the pandemic.
“So, yes, we want to get to a position where we can support people who want to travel to be able to do so, but it is difficult.
“We are being cautious because the biggest threat still to our progress against this pandemic and the great progress we have made on vaccination is that there will be another variant somewhere that maybe hadn’t been properly detected in another country and that that variant is more resistant to vaccination.
“That’s the great challenge that we have got, that’s why we are proceeding with caution.”
Reporting by agencies
What’s set for the green list?
Here are a handful of predictions.
According to Brian Strutton of the pilots’ union Balpa, a wide range of destinations: Malta, the Balearic and Canary Islands of Spain; some of the Greek islands; the US and some Caribbean islands.
“I am expecting expansion of the green list. In fact, there’s got to be. We’re nearly at the point of no return for travel this summer. If we don’t start getting some proper destination flying very, very soon, then we’re going to have bankruptcies and business failures.
“I’m hearing suggestions like, ‘Maybe in August’. Well, that isn’t going to be good enough. We need flying now.”
Analysts concur that Malta is a clear favourite. Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, adds that Madeira should be reinstated to green; along with the rest of Portugal, it was moved from green to amber three weeks ago.
He says he is expecting no more than five countries to be added, even though the data says more should be eligible.
Among Greek islands, Corfu, Kefalonia, Lesbos, Santorini and Zakynthos (Zante) are looking promising according to the analyst Tim White.
Cuba, which has the best health system in Latin America, is another possibility.
Robert Boyle of Gridpoint Consulting – formerly strategy director for BA’s parent company IAG – cautions: “There were several countries that ought to have been added at the last review based on their case rates, and none were.
“So whether the traffic lights will remain stuck on amber/red at the next review is anyone’s guess at this point.”
The ultimate lookahead to today
The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder has the ultimate everything-you-need-know about the announcement today.
When might it happen? Who decides the lists? What are the criteria? What could be on the green list? What about the red list?
Read his full report here.
Welcome to The Independent’s rolling travel coverage
Good morning, it’s traffic light reshuffle day! We’ll be bringing you all the latest updates on the green list, travel news and industry reaction today. Here’s hoping it will be less disappointing than the last update…