Seventeen countries could join the green list for quarantine-free travel this week, according to an analysis of the latest Covid-19 infection and vaccination rates.
The research by The PC Agency, a travel consultancy, suggests 12 destinations, including Germany, Poland, Canada, Austria and Romania could go fully green, allowing even unvaccinated holidaymakers to visit them without having to quarantine on their return to the UK.
All 12 countries have infection rates below 30 cases per 100,000 of the population, compared with the UK’s 286 per 100,000, and most have also fully jabbed more than half their adult populations. The list also includes Bosnia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
A further five - Bhutan, French Polynesia, North Macedonia, Norway and Saudi Arabia - have low enough infection rates to join the “green watch list”, defined as being at risk of going amber and enabling only fully jabbed travellers to visit them without quarantining on returning to the UK.
The data will be analysed by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) this week before ministers decide which countries should be red, amber or green based on the risk of importing Covid-19 and its variants. The JBC is believed to be reviewing an initial long list of 77 countries as possible “green” additions.
Pressure on ministers to significantly expand the green list has increased after it emerged that Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, wrote to Boris Johnson last month urging him to lift restrictions on foreign travel to allow the UK to compete with EU countries which have relaxed their border controls.
Senior backbenchers and the travel industry are also urging ministers to review countries on the red list, which requires any arrival from them to quarantine in a Government approved hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1,750.
The PC Agency analysis suggests four countries - Bahrain, India (the source for the delta variant now sweeping Europe), Kenya and Pakistan - have seen their infection rates fall sufficiently to be moved from red to amber.
“No one has moved off the red list since its introduction despite falling infection rates. We need to open up the Middle East. The [international exhibition conference] starts in Dubai in two months and we can’t have a situation where British people cannot go and showcase their businesses,” said a senior Tory MP.
Ministers are expected this month to lift the travel ban on major airport hubs that serve the Far East, Middle East and Australia, including the currently red-listed Istanbul, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Bahrain.
Passengers who transit through the airports without leaving airside will no longer be required to hotel quarantine in the UK - and instead will be treated according to the last destination they left such as green-listed Australia.
However, Iceland, Malta, Madeira and Israel are at risk of switching from green to amber because of rising infection rates.