Ryanair and an airport owner are taking legal action over the traffic light system for international travel.
They are unhappy about how decisions are made on which countries to add to the green list. How does the system work?
What is the traffic light list?
You do not have to quarantine after visiting green list countries.
The government says you should not holiday in red or amber destinations, which means most countries. Visiting them means extra Covid tests and quarantine.
Ministers review the traffic light lists every three weeks. The next update is due on 28 June.
Who decides if a country is green, amber, or red?
Ministers are responsible for deciding which country goes in each list. They are informed by the work of the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and “wider public health factors” in the UK.
The JBC looks at the spread of coronavirus and any concerning variants in a particular country. Vaccination rates are also taken into account.
Destinations are put on the amber list unless there is specific evidence to suggest they should be on the green or red lists.
A formal review takes place every three weeks. A country can be put on a “watchlist” when it could move to another list.
When Portugal was moved from the green list to amber, the government said it was partly down to the emergence of a “Nepal variant”. However, such a variant has not been recognised by the World Health Organization.
What are the rules for green list countries?
If you’re returning from a green list country, you must:
You do not need to quarantine unless your day-two test is positive, or NHS Test & Trace says you have travelled with someone who tested positive.
What are the rules for amber list countries?
The vast majority of countries are on the amber list.
The government advises people not to travel to amber destinations, although the holiday industry has accused it of sending out mixed signals.
If returning from an amber list country, you must:
It may be possible to end quarantine early in England if you pay for an additional test under the test-to-release scheme.
What are the rules for red list countries?
Red list countries are those the UK government says are at the highest risk from Covid, and should not be visited “except in the most extreme of circumstances”.
Dozens of countries are on the red list, including India, Pakistan, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa.
If you have been in one in the last 10 days, you can only enter the UK if you are a UK or Irish national, or UK resident.
If you’re returning from a red list country, you must:
- 10 days (11-nights) for one adult – £1,750
- Additional adult (or child over 11) – £650
- Children aged five to 11 – £325
Where can I get a Covid test for travel from?
Before returning to the UK you will need to pay for a private test with high accuracy, such as a PCR or antigen test. Further tests are also required after you return.
Failure to provide proof of a negative test before travelling to England could result in a £500 fine.
Are there flights from red list countries?
A limited number of direct flights from red list countries are operating, as part of a trial at Heathrow and Birmingham airports.
The airports have “dedicated facilities” to keep red list passengers separate from other arrivals, and then transfer them to quarantine accommodation.
Is travel insurance valid for amber and red list countries?
Anyone planning to visit an amber or red list country should check their proposed destination on the FCO country advice pages.
If the FCO advises against travel, insurance would almost certainly be invalid.
If not, the cost of medical treatment abroad would be covered, usually including Covid.
But few policies, including those for green list countries, will cover your costs if you contract Covid and can’t fly home.
How can travellers prove they’ve been vaccinated?
People in Scotland can also request a vaccine certificate from the NHS inform website or by calling 0808 196 8565, if they are due to travel in the next 21 days.
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