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Green list: Which countries don’t require quarantine upon arrival in the UK?

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In this Jan. 17, 2021 file photo travelers arrive at Heathrow Airport in London
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Credit: AP

The UK has unveiled a small list of countries from which arrivals won’t have to quarantine after May 17.

Revealing the traffic light system for travel, the transport secretary Grant Shapps revealed Portugal, Israel and Gibraltar will be on the ‘green list’ of countries.

However holiday favourites such as France and Spain are not on the green list, due to their coronavirus status.

Meanwhile Turkey was added to the ‘red list’ meaning fans may not be able to travel to Istanbul for the Champions League final, which features Manchester City and Chelsea.

Countries are being placed in green, amber, or red categories, according to how bad their COVID-19 outbreak is, among other factors.

Travellers arriving in the UK from green countries will not have to quarantine. Those coming from red countries will have to stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 days.

Green countries

The list of green countries and territories is currently brief.

Those included are Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, and Israel.

Even with green countries, there will be some requirements that need to be met. Arrivals from green countries, for instance, will still need fill out a passenger locator form online and do a COVID test pre-departure as well as PCR test on day two after their arrival in the UK.

They won’t need to quarantine or self-isolate, though, nor will they need to take any additional tests.

The government will review the list every three weeks to see if more countries can be added – or if any need to be removed.

How are countries chosen?

The UK government has said they will be looking at various factors when it comes to assessing which countries are placed where on its updated traffic light system.

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Of course, the number and rate of infections in a particular country will be a keen focus of the assessment as well as the proportion of the population in each country that has been vaccinated so far.

Some are faring better than others on the latter, with countries like Israel having fully vaccinated more than 50% of their population.

The assessment will also take into account reports of coronavirus variants which are particularly concerning. COVID-19 variants from the UK and Brazil at the end of 2020 caused panic around the world with countries closing their borders to contain it.

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There are mounting concerns about clusters of an Indian variant in England.

In order to make an accurate assessment, the British authorities will also be looking at how credible and reliable the scientific data is that is being shared by each country.

What are the rules for red and amber countries?

Countries will be allocated a colour depending on the level of perceived risk. The level of restrictions travellers will face will depend on which grouping they are put in, with green being the least restrictive and red being the most.

Similarly, passengers arriving from amber countries will need to fill out the passenger locator form as well as take a pre-departure test. They will, however, have to quarantine for 10 days. Arrivals will also have to take a PCR test on day two and day eight but could leave quarantine early if they have a negative test on day five under the Test to Release scheme.

Countries on the red list will be subject to the tightest restrictions, including a 10-day stay in a quarantine hotel (which must be booked and paid for before you travel) as well as the testing regimen being applied to the amber countries. The Test to Release scheme will not be an option for red-listed arrivals.

How often will the list be reviewed?

While it is not clear just now how regularly the list will be updated after it is rolled out, the government initially said there would be a reviewed on June 28.

There will also be a “green watchlist” that will identify and monitor which countries on the green list are most at risk of moving to amber.

While the watchlist is advisory, the government has said it will take immediate action to move countries between the various levels of the traffic light system with no advance notice should the data for that country show an alarming change.

May 17 will mark the next stage in England’s reopening plans, with pubs and restaurants allowed to reopen indoor areas, and venues including theaters and cinemas opening to limited audiences.

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