Europe to drop travel ban but PM remains cautious

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The Prime Minister will sign off “green list” destinations tomorrow but insisted his top priority is to stop an “influx of disease” hitting the UK. EU holiday hotspots are desperate to welcome back British holidaymakers and will drop a blanket entry ban by the end of the month for those who have had two Covid jabs. Mr Johnson will ease travel restrictions in two weeks but only a handful of countries are expected to be classed as safe.

He said: “We do want to do some opening up on May 17 but I don’t think that the people of this country want to see an influx of disease from anywhere else.”

The Joint Biosecurity Centre is assessing which countries will be classed as green, amber or red under the new travel traffic light system.

Its analysis will be finalised tomorrow but the public may have to wait for the results until Friday after the local elections.

The Government will launch a Travel Safely, Plan Ahead campaign to give holidaymakers advice about what they should do if they decide to venture abroad.

All travellers will have to take Covid tests but only those returning from the safest destinations will escape having to isolate at home or in a hotel.

But Mr Johnson insisted caution was paramount, adding: “We have got to be cautious and we have got to be sensible and we have got to make sure that we don’t see the virus coming back in.”

Brussels has been forced to accelerate its plans with states on the Mediterranean pushing hard to welcome Britons to kick-start their pandemic-ravaged economies.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “We propose to welcome again vaccinated visitors and those from countries with a good health situation.

“It’s time to revive the EU tourism industry.”

Talks on the plan will be held today and it is expected to be agreed by the end of the month.

A Commission official said: “The figures for the UK are good.

“Definitely those vaccinated in the UK will be eligible to travel to the EU.”

The move will allow travellers to enter any European country without the need for testing and quarantine.

It will also be open to people with a recent negative Covid test or evidence of antibodies as proof of immunity.

Plans are already being drawn up in Whitehall and Brussels for using vaccine passports to kick-start foreign travel in the coming months.

And Britain has opened talks with the EU to ensure Britons can prove they have been vaccinated.

Spain, Portugal and Greece have been lobbying hard for an overhaul of the bloc’s travel ban to ensure travellers from Britain can be welcomed back.

Airline chiefs urged ministers to follow the EU’s lead and accelerate plans for reopening international travel.

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, said: “The EU should be congratulated for recognising that the success of the vaccine rollout – coupled with sensible vigilance around variants – is a game-changer that can and should enable a risk-based and proportionate system of international travel to resume.

“It is frustrating that the UK has not gone down the same road.”

Only a small number of areas are expected to be judged safe enough in the first wave of new UK travel rules.

Malta, Portugal, Israel, Gibraltar, Iceland and some Caribbean islands are expected to be included on the list.

But the list will be reviewed every three weeks and it is hoped many popular European destinations will be on the green list by summer.

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