Travel to popular holiday islands in Spain, Greece and Portugal could be given the green light as early as next month, according to reports.
As many as 30 countries may make the green list for UK holidaymakers from May 17, with Boris Johnson expected to give the go-ahead for overseas travel to resume a week earlier.
Israel, Barbados, Morocco, Maldives, Seychelles, Grenada, St Lucia, Antigua and a number of British Overseas Territories such as Bermuda and Turks & Caicos are among the nations thought likely to be opened up for quarantine-free travel.
Holiday islands such as the Canary Islands and the Azores in the cases of Spain and Portugal, and Greek islands such as Crete and Santorini could also be added to the list even if their respective mainlands are off-limits.
Travel corridors to islands with lower Covid infection rates than their country’s mainland are likely to be implemented again this summer, transport secretary Grant Shapps said this week.
The government is expected to announce the list of countries in two weeks using a traffic light system to categorise them as green, amber or red.
A blog by Paul Charles, chief executive of the travel consultancy PC Agency, cited “high-level sources” that had given a list of mainly island destinations with high vaccination rates and low Covid-19 infections.
He suggested that it is “highly likely” that 20-30 countries could be on the green list from the outset.
Charles said: “I understand the government will reveal which countries are in the new traffic light colours of red, amber and green on either 6th or 7th May.
“As global data is updated on a Thursday each week, this enables the government to take stock of the latest data on 6th May and then publish its thoughts on how countries will be rated.
“It doesn’t want to reveal the country ratings before then and be held responsible for making the wrong call.
“I still understand from my high-level sources, and believe, that all of Europe, and countries such as Turkey, will be either amber or green in the first coloured-in a traffic light map.”
Charles suggested that the US will also go on the green list as part of a reciprocal deal before July 4 despite the US State Department issuing a warning against travel to Britain. Its advice said: “Because of the current situation in the United Kingdom even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19 variants.”
Charles added: “On top of this flurry of imminent announcements, it’s certain the government will reveal more about how those who have been fully vaccinated will be able to escape some of the restrictions such as self-isolation at home for 10 days when returning from an amber country.
“A test may still be needed but people who are fully vaccinated will not need to face the same, onerous stay-at-home order as those who haven’t been fully jabbed. Cabinet Office papers confirm this is being studied in detail.
“The US has already led the way here, saying that US citizens who’ve been fully jabbed don’t have to quarantine at all when they get back to the US but merely have to take a PCR test on day 3 of their return.”
He predicted that long-haul countries will be opened up at each overseas travel review stage, if all goes to plan on vaccine rollout and infection/variant reduction.
This suggests June 28 would see the US opened up, July 31 would see transit hubs such as Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi re-opened and October 1 would see a plan for re-opening access to Australia and New Zealand.
A ‘Covid-19 charter’, outlining consumer rights on travel, will cover off what consumers can expect if a country changes colour at short notice and how they can seek a refund or rebook.
Spain ‘desperate’ to welcome British holidaymakers
Meanwhile, Spanish tourism secretary Fernando Valdes said he wanted UK holidaymakers to “restart holidays” in six weeks.
He told The Telegraph: “We are desperate to welcome you this summer. We’ve been having constant conversations with UK authorities.”
Valdes said a travel corridor between the two countries, allowing quarantine-free holidays, was on the table but only with Covid passports “easing” the return of safe travel.
He added: “I believe that certificates is going to help us. Since the beginning of the pandemic we have been trying to put in place different means to help safe tourism.
“It is true we have passed through some waves of this pandemic, this virus, but now I think we are ready because we do have vaccinations.
“We have been having constant conversations with UK authorities, these certificates are going to ease travel and help tourism from this summer on.”