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Despite widespread briefing over the weekend that the Prime Minister was going to set out some more detail on foreign travel regulations this evening, there doesn’t really seem to be anything new yet.
Even when questioned, the furthest Mr Johnson would go was to say that he was, “hopeful that we can get going from 17 May, but I do not wish to give hostages to fortune or to underestimate the difficulties we are seeing in some of the destination countries.”
It still seems to be the case that a ‘traffic light’ system will be used, which is likely to work roughly as follows:
“GREEN: Anyone returning from these countries must take a pre-flight lateral flow test at their own cost, then take a “sequencing test” within days of landing to check for new strains.
AMBER: Like green, but those entering the UK must isolate at home for ten days after arrival. They can get out after five days with a negative test paid for privately.
RED: Arrivals must isolate on their return in an authorised hotel at their own cost — as they do currently.”
When will we know more?
The Global Travel Taskforce is due to report on 12th April. Assuming that the Government is broadly content with the proposals, things should be a lot clearer at that point.
The domestic situation here in the UK is very much on track (or ahead of schedule) in terms of the reduction in infection rates, hospitalisations, and the speed of the vaccination roll out.
However, many countries (particularly in Europe) are in considerably worse shape than the taskforce would have assumed even just a few weeks ago. It would therefore not be surprising if the taskforce is having to review some of its earlier conclusions.
Judging from the general tone of politicians here and from the infection rate data in Europe, I would be extremely surprised to see many countries on the ‘Green’ list as of 17th May. The Government will be very keen to stick to that date for symbolic reasons, but I’m pretty sure it will be a token number to begin with.