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It has been an unquestionably rocky road for travellers. However, thanks to stimulus packages, reopening economies, clearer awareness and better testing protocols, trips abroad might start becoming easier again.

With countries limiting the spread of COVID-19, the tourism industry has begun to look ahead to a brighter future where travel and hospitality are once again commonplace.

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Earlier in May 2021, the UK government released a new “traffic light system” for travel. Under the system, countries are divided into three categories based on their revival from COVID-19. The divisions are green, amber and red.

Since 17 May 2021, Wales, Scotland and England have allowed international travellers from green-listed countries with easy rules.

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What defines green-listed countries?

Countries in the green list are the ones that have low coronavirus cases, only a few emerging variants, high vaccination drives, and genomic testing accessibility. Currently, there are only 12 countries on the green list, like Singapore, Australia, Israel, etc. Travellers from the green-listed countries and UK travellers returning from these countries do not need to quarantine. Only a 72-hour covid test is required on arrival from the listed countries.

What about amber-listed countries?

Travellers coming from amber-listed countries need to get a COVID test on their arrival to the UK. A 10-day home quarantine is also required. At present, more than 170 countries are on the amber list. The list includes the most famous holiday destinations like Spain, France, etc.

Red-listed countries

Unlike amber and green list countries, travel from red-listed countries is completely banned. Only the UK’s residents can return home from these countries with an 11-nights hotel quarantine. Currently, the list constitutes more than 40 countries, like Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, etc.

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The green list: a boon or a bane?

The United Kingdom is entering a broad unlocking phase after meeting its target for vaccinating the over-50s.

ALSO READ: UK Economy Recovered from Pandemic Lows in March, Claims New ONS Data

On one hand, ministers announced the traffic-light system while on the other, health experts argue that the move seems to have been made quite soon. Travel firms pointed out that there are many issues with the new traffic-light system that are needed to be addressed.

Some firms might feel that a good number of destinations on the green list could be an overly cautious start. Besides, the UK’s success in combating the virus is not matched in many other countries- and given how the virus spreads, this could be a threat.

However, airlines can now finally be back in game with increased flights. The green list is also good news for tourist-dependant firms. Some industry people are awaiting the colourful atmosphere to all the restaurants, bars, and hotels.

What are the problems with the green list?

Due to mixed reactions from various parties, travellers are likely to feel confused about travelling in the new normal. The overall pandemic-hit travel industry is also concerned about the mixed messages that are coming from ministers, travel experts and the media.

Since most of the best travel destinations are on the amber list, more than the expected number of travellers have attempted to travel to amber list destinations. Some reports suggest that this resulted in as long as three-hour queues at Heathrow airport, causing chaos.

Copyright © 2021 Kalkine Media

To maintain social distancing, limited staff is available at the airports currently. Long queues and poor social distancing are putting many travellers at risk of getting infected. Health experts argue that it might be too soon to lift international travel restrictions as currently, the more variants are surging in the UK while cases are still rising internationally.

Travel to amber-list countries is no longer illegal, but health experts argue that it is still unsafe to travel to these places. The UK, from its side, has put 12 countries on the green list to encourage easy travel between the listed countries. However, things are not the same from their end.

Many countries on the green list by the UK government still have international travel restrictions, making the traffic-light system meaningless to some extent. Australia and New Zealand, along with three other countries, have not lifted international travel restrictions to the respective country-lands. For these countries, the UK list is entirely invalid. Only Portugal and Gibraltar are welcoming tourists from the UK.

While travel restrictions have eased across Wales, Scotland and England, the new traffic-light system might not be efficient until conditions get better in the other COVID-19 effected regions. Or it could be a blessing for the alarmed tourism industry.

Time will tell!