International travel to the U.K. could resume, at the earliest, May 17, 2021, according to a report produced by the U.K.’s Global Travel Taskforce. On Friday, the taskforce released a framework to chart The Safe Return of International Travel to the U.K., deciding on a “traffic light” system, which would categorize countries based on the level of risk.
Key factors, according to the framework, include:
The percentage of the population that have been vaccinated
The rate of infection
The prevalence of variants of concern
The country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing
Restrictions for inbound travelers, such as a quarantine and stringent testing, would remain in place but would apply differently deepening on whether the destination visited is categorized as “green,” “amber” or “red.” Currently, there is a list of countries in the “red” category, which requires a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and PCR testing on Days 2 and 8 (the United States is not on this list), but there is not yet an official list for “green” or “amber” countries. More details would be announced by May, the taskforce said.
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In a statement provided to Luxury Travel Advisor, Jason Oshiokpekhai, managing director for Global Travel Collection U.K., said: “While we are pleased the Global Travel Task Force has released its initial framework to safely reopen international travel, we believe further communication on the three-tier traffic light system needs to be prioritized sooner than early May, particularly in regards to which countries are likely to be on the Green List come May 17.
“This summer is the most critical time of recovery for our industry, especially as infection rates are lower and confidence to travel is higher. The continued absence of clarity and delay of concrete plans directly hinders both our clients and our industry’s ability to properly prepare before things reopen. Leisure, business and entertainment travel must have a clear roadmap and specific support in the way of exemption from quarantine with a negative test or vaccine protection.”
Oshiokpekhai added: “In order to create the best chance of a healthy recovery of travel and the vital role it plays in advancing the UK economy, we call for the UK Government to actively engage with the travel management community to build clearer framework guidance and provide targeted support for the business and leisure travel sectors.”
In separate but related news, the U.K. government also announced plans to digitize its passenger locator form, integrating it into the U.K. border system and enabling checks to take place at e-gates by autumn 2021.