Johnson ‘hopeful’ about international travel for Britons from May 17

Key Borisgov
Boris Johnson Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

(dpa) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is “hopeful” international travel for Britons will be able to go ahead from May 17, following the unveiling of a new traffic light system.

On Monday, Johnson’s government published a document that outlines a new red, amber and green system for residents in England who want to go on holiday abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Each country will be given a rating that determines whether or not travellers will need to go into quarantine upon their return.

Residents heading to “green” countries will have to take coronavirus tests before and after departure but will not have to quarantine upon returning to England. For “amber” or “red” countries, citizens would have to take tests as well as go into quarantine upon their return.

The system will be based on how many people have been vaccinated in each country, its rate of infection, emerging coronavirus variants and access to “reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.”

However, it is “too early” to say which countries will be on which list, the document says.

During a Downing Street press briefing on Monday, Johnson also warned that the date when people can travel internationally for holidays again may change due to the changing nature of the pandemic.

“We don’t want to see the virus being reimported into this country from abroad,” he said.

He added that further detail about the new system will be published by the Global Travel Taskforce, which advises Johnson on how to tackle the issue of travel during the pandemic, later this week.

It is not clear how vaccines will be taken into consideration for the system. However, Johnson suggested vaccine passports would play a part in the future for travelling overseas.

“The idea that vaccination status being useful for international travel is something that all countries are looking at, I do think that is going to be the way that people deal with it,” Johnson said.

Despite rumours in recent weeks, Johnson said the vaccine passports – which he referred to as “Covid Status Cetification” – will not come into force in England for April 12, when hairdressers, pub gardens and non-essential shops reopen. He added this was the same case for May 17, when indoor restaurants reopen and concerts are allowed.

Johnson said his government had some ethical concerns surrounding letting people into places based on vaccine passports due to the potential for discrimination among people who can’t have the vaccine.

Should plans for vaccine passports go ahead, it would be put to a vote before British parliament before being made compulsory, he confirmed.

Managing director for travel company Tui UK and Ireland, Andrew Flintham, said he welcomed the traffic light system as it offered clear guidelines to the travel industry.

“We are all trying to reopen the UK, the economy, and travel is an intrinsic part of that,” he told the BBC broadcaster on Monday.

“All our teams are getting ready for restart, we believe and we hope the 17th [of May] will be possible,” he said. “With the amazing vaccine programme and the greater provision of testing, we think we should be able to get going.”

While the traffic light system is just for England, the British government is said to be in talks with the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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