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World British holidaymakers could be allowed to travel to Europe within weeks

13:30  04 may  2021
13:30  04 may  2021 Source:   news.sky.com

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Ministers are reportedly considering a handful of countries people from the UK will be able to travel to initially in the coming weeks.

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Reports suggested the list could include about a dozen countries, although some newspapers have suggested it could be fewer than 10.

Several named Malta, Gibraltar, Portugal and Israel as likely destinations to be open to Britons, while the Daily Telegraph said Spain, Greece and France could be added by the end of June.

a large building: Greece could be one of the destinations named on the green list © Reuters Greece could be one of the destinations named on the green list

The Times put the Seychelles on its list, while the Daily Telegraph also included Iceland.

The European Commission is proposing "to allow entry to the EU for non-essential reasons not only for all persons coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation, but also all people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorised vaccine".

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It did not say which countries would be on its list, but one unnamed EU official said the UK remains a "question mark".

The UK government's "green list" of countries to which people can travel without having to isolate for 14 days on their return is expected to be released this week, although it is understood details are still being finalised.

It comes as Boris Johnson said the approach to foreign travel this summer will be sensible and cautious to avoid "an influx of disease".

The prime minister said there will be "some opening up" on 17 May, the next milestone in the roadmap for restrictions to lift, but that things must be done in a way "to make sure that we don't see the virus coming back in" to the UK.

Trade Secretary Liz Truss urged holidaymakers to wait for government announcements before booking.

Asked if we will see travel resume from 17 May, Ms Truss told Sky News: "We are doing all we can to make sure we follow the roadmap and open up the economy and travel gradually.

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"The really important thing is we don't move too fast and jeopardise the progress we have made - so people will have to wait a bit longer to be able to hear the news on what is happening on the travel front."

She said she would encourage people to wait before booking a summer holiday so they can see what the "details are based on the data".

The government fully supports safe travel but "we need to be cautious to make sure that we are not simply importing the virus after we have successfully dealt with it in Britain", Ms Truss said.

She added: "If we are able to have people go on holiday, I don't see any reason provided it is safe."

Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, who advises the government, said he was optimistic of something "a lot more normal" this summer.

However, he warned countries with high infection rates remained a travel risk and that COVID variants still had potential to cause a "major" third wave.

"I think if for instance, by the summer, infection levels in France and Italy are the same sort of level as they are here, then there's no risk associated with travelling overseas," he told the BBC's Today Programme.

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"The risk comes from going from a place like the UK with very low infection levels and going to a place with much higher infection levels and therefore having the risk of bringing infection back.

"If the two places are at comparable levels, and that's what the EU is saying, then there is no particular risks associated with travel."

Prof Ferguson said variants such as the one first detected in South Africa - which are believed to be more resistant to vaccines - were a "major concern" that could still spark a "very major third wave in the autumn".

He said it was essential to get booster doses, designed to combat these variants, rolled out once the main vaccination programmes ends in the summer.

Those in the top four priority groups should hopefully begin getting the extra shots from September, according to the government.

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