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U.K. Declares Which EU Destinations Safe For Non-Essential Travel

In some excitement that holidays will soon be back on again for Brits, the U.K. Foreign Office has changed its travel advice–declaring which EU countries are now safe for non-essential travel.

Portugal, the Canary Islands, Corfu and Crete, as reported by The Telegraph, have been declared safe. Malta, a popular Mediterranean destination for British holidaymakers–and currently offering to pay travelers who visit over the summer–has also been declared safe. Israel has made the cut, as well as the Greek islands of Rhodes, Kos, and Zakynthos.

Non-essential travel is currently banned from the U.K. so it is widely anticipated that these are reliable indications of where holidaymakers will be allowed to go from 17 May onwards, when the U.K. allows the resumption of travel for tourism. The U.K. government is expected to unveil its travel light lists this week on 7 May, when countries will be grouped into either green, amber and red categories.

Visitors to countries on the green list are not expected to be required to quarantine upon return, although the countries themselves may place additional constraints on U.K. travelers when they arrive.

The green list is not expected to include more than 10 countries–all of which will be chosen because they are experiencing low Covid-19 infection rates, high vaccination numbers and low prevalence for variants. Iceland and the British overseas territory of Gibraltar are expected to make the cut.

The Guardian reported that despite a group of MPs advising against overseas travel this summer for fear of the risk of a third wave enveloping the country, there had been a surge in international bookings for the summer. U.K. travel company, Thomas Cook reported a 50% increase in bookings over the past week compared to the week before.

The all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus (APPG) has advised the government to not open up international travel over the summer summarising its fear in a report that “the UK government should discourage all international leisure travel to prevent the importation of new variants into the UK, in order to reduce the risk of a third wave and further lockdowns.”

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson urged caution. The BBC reported that whilst some travel would be “opening up” on 17 May, Johnson added that it was important to be cautious, saying “we have got to be very, very tough.”

Spain and mainland Greece are not expected to make the U.K.’s green list on Friday. It is widely believed that the U.S. and most EU countries will be on the amber list, meaning that any travel to these countries will require a 10-day quarantine upon return–and that this will probably be the case into June, at the earliest.

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