A total of 12 destinations have been added to the UK government’s new green list of destinations deemed as being safe for travellers to return to England from without having to quarantine.

The list – effective from May 17 – is as follows:

  • Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira)
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Brunei
  • Iceland
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Falkland Islands
  • Israel
  • Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Travellers arriving into England from these destinations will still have to take a test before they return , as well as on day two after their return, but they will not need to quarantine on arrival.

Most other countries will be initially be on the “amber list”, including popular summer destinations such as France, Greece and Spain. The lists are set to be reviewed every three weeks.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also confirmed that three new destinations will be added to the highest risk “red list” – Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal.

Shapps said that travellers will be able to access their vaccine records through the existing NHS app from May 17 – or will be able to request a paper letter.

Easyjet Holidays confirmed to Business Traveller that it is “set to restart its holidays as planned from May 17, with its first customers making the most of Portugal being on the green list, with breaks to Albufeira, Vilamoura and Alvor leading the charge”.

Several industry bodies have reacted to the news, with ABTA’s CEO Mark Tanzer, commenting:

“Although it was good to hear the Minister say he wants people to be able to travel this summer, this is a slower and more cautious approach than previously outlined by the Government and will delay the industry’s recovery.

“We understand that public health is the Government’s priority, and it was always expected that the return to international travel would be gradual, but the Government must use the next review to open up travel to more destinations, using the traffic light system to manage risk.

“We also need the Government to commit to supporting travel agents and tour operators through what will continue to be difficult times ahead. Travel will be one of the most restricted economic sectors coming out of the pandemic and this needs to be recognised through adequate grants to support these businesses.”

Meanwhile Karen Dee, CEO of the Airport Operators Association, said:

“UK airports are ready to welcome back passengers from May 17, with high levels of health and hygiene measures in place, and we welcome confirmation that international travel will resume. Given the success of the UK’s vaccine roll-out, it is disappointing that so few countries are on the green list. This is not yet the meaningful, four-nation restart UK airports and the economy need.

“Aviation is essential to connect families who have not been able to meet for so long, to provide well-earned holidays, and for businesses to reach new and existing customers abroad. To ensure this can restart effectively, the UK Government must play its part by adding countries to the green list, making testing more affordable, through the use of widely available rapid tests, and by simplifying the processes and providing sufficient resource at the border. The unacceptable queues passengers experience at the border in some airports put passenger welfare and safety and security in UK airports at risk.

“Pre-pandemic around a million UK jobs were supported by UK aviation so a full recovery must be a priority for Government. Ministers need to use the upcoming reviews to reduce restrictions for fully vaccinated people, just as the EU and the US are planning. This is particularly important for restarting the UK’s inbound tourism sector.”