Turkey tipped to come off Covid red list in time for half-term

Turkey tipped to come off Covid red list in time for half-term
Ministers are reportedly opening up dozens of countries and scrapping the amber list

British holidaymakers will be told on Friday that they can now travel to Turkey, it is reported, as the government announces its much-anticipated review of the Covid travel lists.

Dozens of other countries, including the Maldives, South Africa and Sri Lanka, are also rumoured to be moving off the government’s no-go list, with transport secretary Grant Shapps expected to announce a simplified version of the traffic light system that removes the amber classification altogether.

Countries will instead be divided into either a green list or a red list, eliminating the “grey area” travellers have complained of since the system was introduced earlier this year.

As a result, the red list that bans international travel to 62 countries is expected to be more than halved, The Times reports, in what will be the government’s most significant easing of travel restrictions since they were first imposed.

Red list travel currently requires passengers to pay £2,285 to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 11 nights on their return to the UK.

Turkey, which was added to the red list in early May, is expected to be among the countries that will be opened up for international travel again.

It is one of the UK’s most popular winter sun destinations, particularly in October half-term destinations with average highs of 26C. In 2019, more than two million Britons holidayed in the country, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Meanwhile, the requirement for pre-flight tests to be PCR standard could be relaxed to allow cheaper lateral flow tests, saving money for thousands of travellers, it was reported.

While the cost of the “day 2” PCR test has fallen under intense scrutiny, by both travellers and Britain’s competition watchdog, health secretary Sajid Javid recently indicated they could be scrapped for fully vaccinated travellers returning to the UK. A cheaper and quicker lateral flow test will be required instead.

Similarly, the requirement to take a pre-departure lateral flow test up to 72 hours before boarding UK-bound flights and ferries could also be scrapped for vaccinated travellers, saving them about £30 each.

Data expert Tim White said on Thursday he thought at least 12 countries were being taken off the red list, under a new system focusing on variants of concern.

“The countries are Argentina, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Turkey,” he told Sky News.

“If cautious, Mexico may need to stay a while longer and Dominican Republic needs help to conduct genomic sequencing.”