‘Traffic light’ system for holidays could slash quarantine times and save summer

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The Government will reportedly consider a "traffic light" system for international travel in an effort to save summer.

The plans were submitted to the global travel task force by Heathrow Airport and outline four grades of travel restriction based on the current Covid threat in a destination and the presence of new variants.

These include an "amber" restriction which requires a three-day quarantine and testing regime targeted at limiting the spread of new strains of the virus, the Daily Telegraph reports.

New strains of the virus are viewed as the biggest obstacle to restarting global travel, as even with an extensive vaccination programme new variants could develop resistance to antibodies.

According to Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye, the amber alert would be triggered when the possibility of a new “variant of concern” was spotted in a country.

If you were returning from an amber country, you would need to have a negative test result within 72 hours of departure, and a test on arrival in the UK. You could then leave quarantine after giving a negative test on the third day.

The different grades range from “green”, which means a country has low covid rates, a high vaccination rollout, and no new variants, to “red”, which has high infection rates and low vaccination.

Countries classed as red would also count even if you had passed through them on the way to the UK.

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Between these two are the “amber” and “yellow” lists, which show medium infection rates and strong surveillance of the disease.

Travel to and from red list countries would be completely banned, whilst quarantines and tests would need to be produced for destinations in the lower categories.

Green list countries meanwhile would not have any travel restrictions in place.

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Whilst the scheme has been touted as a way to rescue summer holidays, it is also crucial for businesses importing and exporting to the UK.

A spokesperson for Heathrow airport said: “The UK’s progress in the global vaccine race coupled with advances in testing, means that Ministers no longer need to choose between public health and the economy – a risk-based approach to international travel will allow us to protect them both.

“Restarting trade and travel to key markets like the US after May 17th will be key to the Government achieving its Global Britain ambitions and helping communities across the UK to level up.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said:

"The Government’s objective is to see a safe and sustainable return to international travel, for business and pleasure.

"The Secretary of State for Transport is leading a successor to the Global Travel Taskforce to develop a framework that can facilitate greater travel when the time is right, while still managing the risk from imported cases and variants."

  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown

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