Government insiders have suggested a traffic light system is currently on the table as a way of allowing Britons to jet off on holiday this year while minimising the risk of importing variants of coronavirus. A study varied out by economics consultancy Oxera and Edge Health for Manchester Airports Group has found around 130 nations could be on the “green” list for travel.
According to The Times, green-ranked countries would see travel allowed without restrictions, including Britons being given the go-ahead to skip hotel quarantine.
However, arrivals from these nations will still be required to take a lateral flow coronavirus test (LFT) at the airport before departure, and then a “sequencing test” within days of landing to check for strains.
By looking at the risk of new infections from July and August 2020, when the travel corridor scheme was in place, Oxera and Edge found travellers from the UK could now visit overseas destinations with virus prevalence rates three times higher than they were in 2020, without increasing the risk or putting pressure on the NHS.
This is largely thanks to the successful ongoing roll-out of the Covid vaccine across the UK
The research also found the use of pre-departure antigen tests would enable safe travel to a range of countries with higher infection rates.
With this in mind, the experts predict around “130 countries” could be added to the list with the likes of Spain, the United States and Dubai among them.
Michele Granatstein, Partner at Oxera and Head of its Aviation practice, said: “The successful rollout of the UK’s vaccination programme, with 32 million people having received a first dose, is crucial to the safe re-opening of air travel.
“The vaccine role in significantly reducing not only the number of hospitalisations and COVID-19 deaths but transmission rates of the virus should give assurance that safe travel to international destinations is within reach.
“Given these promising results, the proposed green list countries could safely be extended this summer.
“Extending the travel corridor scheme would also give people greater peace of mind that they can travel safely while removing the obligation to undergo an inconvenient and potentially expensive quarantine period.”
The experts suggest that, if the vaccine had been available in the summer of 2020, it would have safely increased the number of countries on the travel corridor list from 62 to 102.
Had pre-departure testing been in place, it would have added almost 30 additional countries to the list, letting travellers safely jet off to 91 percent of nations worldwide.
Though no official update has been given on holidays, the Prime Minister is due to offer more insight on April 5.
The Global Travel Taskforce is then anticipated to resume meetings from April 12.
Charlie Cornish, Group CEO of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said: “Throughout this pandemic, MAG and the wider travel industry has supported the need for strict measures to prevent the spread of the virus and respond to new variants.
“At the same time, the case for restarting international travel safely and at the earliest opportunity is clear.
“Hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds worth of economic value hang in the balance, while families are desperate for a hard-earned holiday, or to be reunited with loved ones they have been separated from during the most challenging of years.
“The Government’s vaccination programme is the envy of the world and this study shows that unlocking travel to a wide range of destinations is one of the many ways in which the British public can benefit from its success.
“This research is a hugely valuable contribution to the work of the Global Travel Taskforce and paves the way for overseas travel to resume as soon as possible.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Taskforce ahead of the publication of its framework next week, and to playing our part in getting Britain flying again and driving our recovery from this pandemic.”