The UK Government has announced plans to set up a traffic light system to classify international travel destinations based on Covid-19 risks.
The system will slot the foreign destinations into three categories, namely green, amber and red, based on which varying degrees of quarantine and testing requirements will be determined for arriving passengers.
For the Green category, the passengers need to take a pre-departure test and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day two of their arrival in the UK. However, they will not need to quarantine on return, unless they test positive for Covid-19.
Passengers arriving from destinations in the Amber category need to quarantine for a period of ten days. They are also required to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on day two and day eight. They can also opt for Test to Release on day five.
All arrivals from the Red category will be subject to restrictions that are currently in place for those countries.
The factors that will be assessed to determine the colour code of a particular country will include the rate of infection, the prevalence of Covid-19 variants and the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated.
It will also consider the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
The list is expected to be finalised early next month.
The approach was recommended by the Global Travel Taskforce, a government advisory body that has devised a framework to safely resume foreign travel from 17 May at the earliest.
Currently, the government has placed restrictions on non-essential international travels to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The task force also recommended the introduction of a ‘green watchlist’, which will include countries at risk of moving from ‘green’ to ‘amber’.
The development of a digital travel certification system is also under consideration to facilitate international travels.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “International travel is vital. It boosts businesses and underpins the UK economy, but more than that, it brings people together, connects families who have been kept apart and allows us to explore new horizons.
“The framework announced today will allow us to reopen travel safely and sustainably, ensure we protect our hard-won achievements on the vaccine roll-out and offer peace of mind to both passengers and industry as we begin to take trips abroad once again.”