Tuesday, November 30News That Matters

What are your holiday options? COVID-19 infection and vaccination rates for tourism hotspots revealed

The UK government is set to relax restrictions for visiting a handful of countries under a new traffic light system, with ministers expected to say which countries will be on the “green list” as soon as Friday.

Those returning to England from nations on the green list will need to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test and also a post-arrival test, but they will not need to self-isolate.

People coming from countries on the amber list will have to take a pre-departure test, and tests on day two and day eight of their arrival.

They will also be required to self-isolate for 10 days, unless they receive a negative result from an optional private test on day five of their arrival (test to release scheme), and can end their quarantine early.

The red list requires a 10-night stay in a government-sanctioned quarantine hotel at a cost of £1,750 for travellers who will also need to take COVID tests before and after they arrive in England.

Many European nations are doing all they can to attract tourists this summer. But for many Britons, a destination with a low infection rate might be the clincher.

The UK’s rapid vaccine rollout and the long winter lockdown means infection rates are lower here than many holiday destinations.

PORTUGAL

Portugal, which imposed a lockdown in January to curb what was then the world’s worst COVID-19 surge, also has a relatively low infection rate.

The country started lifting restrictions last month and has since reopened some schools, restaurant and cafe terraces, museums and hair salons.

GREECE

However Greece, where a fifth of jobs and GDP depend on tourism, is battling one of Europe’s highest coronaviruslinked death rates.

Greece’s prime minister has blamed vaccine hesitancy among the elderly for the persistently high rates of death and hospitalisations.

Meanwhile, the country has said it will invite vaccinated Britons into the country without the need for tests, while Spain, Portugal and France have said they will offer similar in the coming weeks.

European nations are also speeding up their vaccinations ahead the summer travel season.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said the bloc has now administered 150 million doses.

She added: “A quarter of all Europeans have had their first dose.

“We’ll have enough doses for vaccinating 70% of EU adults in July.”

SPAIN

Spain, the most popular tourist destination for Britons prior to the pandemic, has varying infection rates throughout the country.

Some regions in northern Spain have restrictions on travel while others have reopened bars until 1am.

SPANISH ISLANDS

Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera, which make up the Balearic Islands, have a relatively low level of infections compared to mainland Spain.

Earlier this week the Foreign Office stopped advising against non-essential travel to Portugal, excluding the Azores, the Greek islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zante, Corfu and Crete and the Canary Islands in Spain, which include Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Grand Canaria and Lanzarote.

UNITED STATES

The US, also among the most visited by British tourists prior to the pandemic, is seeing varying levels of infection rates across the country.

It was also among the first to relax rules around COVID-19 as it sped up its vaccination programme.

In some areas of the US, more people in their 20s are now being treated in hospital for COVID-19 than people in their 70s.

Ministers plan to review the traffic light system for international travel at the end of June, before the holiday season begins, which could see vaccinated people able to avoid quarantining.

The hope is that more of Europe will be on the “green list” by this point as many countries impose tougher restrictions to control a third wave of infection.