Europe

Holiday islands like the Canaries might be added to travel green list

The government could relax travel restrictions for holiday islands like those in Greece and the Canaries, even if the country they are part of is still on the amber list.

It means that trips away could be back on, despite the government saying that people should not be going to amber list countries unless they have an essential reason.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps gave the indication today, confirming that islands would be considered separately when travel rules are updated.

The approach means that popular holiday hotspots such as the Canaries and the Balearics could potentially be moved to the green list of travel destinations.

But Mr Shapps told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that no decisions had yet been made.

‘There’s a difference between the “in principle”, the way we want to make this work, and the actual data and what the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) are going to come forward to us with. That information I haven’t seen as yet,’ he said.

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The JBC looked at issues including the level of coronavirus, vaccination data and the ability to sequence the genome to discover variants.

‘Sometimes that facility can be a problem in smaller locations,’ Mr Shapps said.

At the moment, the traffic light system grades countries on an overall basis, and does not consider individual regions separately.

However, sepate Foreign Office travel advice does look at different areas within each country.

This means that while it advises against all but essential travel to most amber list countries, it does not say this for some destinations including the Canary Islands.

Travel company Tui has therefore not cancelled holidays to these areas, even though Spain overall is on the amber list.

International leisure travel from England was allowed to resume from May 17, but only 12 countries were put on a green list where people don’t have to quarantine when they return.

The list will be updated every three weeks, with Covid infection rates, vaccination progress and the presence of new variants among factors determining where a country is placed.

It is due to be updated next on June 7.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said: ‘The official government advice is very clear that people should not travel to amber or red list countries or territories. People should not travel to amber list countries for a holiday.

‘If it isn’t on the green list, then unless you have an exceptional reason you shouldn’t be travelling there.’

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