Brits hoping for a long-overdue holiday might have to wait until August before they can travel abroad.
At present, the Government’s road map out of the lockdown permits overseas travel to recommence from May 17 at the earliest.
But according to a Government source who spoke to The Times, overseas travel in June is ‘very optimistic’.
The source added that in fact “August is looking like the most likely moment.”
On Monday (March 29), a new law will come into force prohibiting anyone from leaving England before June 30 without a ‘good reason’, with rule-breakers potentially incurring fines of up to £5,000.
Even when the travel restrictions are eventually lifted, officials have warned travellers will only be able to visit countries with high vaccination rates and no virus mutations.
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According to The Sun, a Whitehall official said: “There will be a system of travel corridors to green-list countries with good vaccination rates.
“Israel, here we come!”
One option is for people returning from ‘green-list’ countries to take a lateral flow test when they get back to Britain.
Lateral flow tests can give results in just 15 minutes.
Ministers are said to be considering a three-tiered warning system that will see holiday destinations divided into Covid zones alongside rapid testing to allow people with vaccine passports or recent test results to fly and return safely.
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It is hoped the measures will streamline travel restrictions and prevent returning Brits from spreading new variants of the virus when they get home.
Referring to rising infection rates around Europe, culture secretary Oliver Dowden said there are ‘challenges around international travel’ but that ‘all options’ are being considered.
Asked about the traffic light system, he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “We consider all options as part of the travel taskforce.
“Clearly, there are challenges around international travel; you only have to look across the continent and see the rising case rates in many of our nearest neighbours.
“It has been in the past the case that those rising infection rates have seen their way to the UK, we’re hopeful that won’t happen this time around because of our progress with the vaccine and so on, but we do need to be cautious about that.”
Travellers from green-list countries would incur minimal restrictions such as a 15 minutes lateral flow test – likely taken when arriving in the UK.
Amber nations will likely require negative PCR tests before travel and some form of quarantine, as well as a lateral flow test on arrival.
But quarantine hotels will continue to be mandatory for all red-list nations.
The cost of the test – usually around £30 – will be charged to the passenger.
Vaccine Passports or recent tests are still likely to be needed for most holiday destinations, with Virgin Atlantic becoming the latest airline to announce a vaccine passport trial.
Unlike last year’s travel corridors, the system will be based on the prevalence of vaccine defying variants and jab rollouts rather than simple infection rates.