Update: During a Downing Street press conference on Friday afternoon, British transport secretary Grant Shapps revealed which countries would make the UK’s quarantine-free Green List. Only 12 countries made the cut, of which the United States was not one.
Shapps said the list would be reviewed every three weeks using data provided by the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
The initial Green List is as follows: Australia, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha.
The UK and USA are set to announce a quarantine-free travel corridor later today as part of the British government’s highly anticipated publication of ‘Green List’ countries according to sources who claim to be familiar with the matter. Only a handful of countries are believed to be making the Green List today, with Portugal, Gibraltar, Iceland and Israel the most likely destinations to be added.
Travel industry analyst Paul Charles who runs the PC Agency claims the 5 pm (London time) announcement of the Green List has been specifically chosen to enable a joint announcement by the Biden administration in Washington DC at midday.
Brits haven’t been able to travel to the United States since March 2020 after then-President Trump issued a travel ban just days after issuing a similar proclamation on travel from Europe.
Trump attempted to rescind the travel ban just before leaving office in January but President Biden reissued the ban just after entering the White House. Administration insiders did, however, claim Biden was looking at lifting the ban on Europe and the UK by mid-May.
This would coincide with the UK’s restart of non-essential international travel on May 17.
But just two days ago, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki refused to be drawn on when the travel ban could be lifted. “This is a case, which I know is endlessly frustrating to people — and I will acknowledge that,” Psaki said in response to a question about allowing foreign tourists to come to the United States this summer.
“We will rely on the advice and the recommendations by our health and medical experts on what is safe for the American public,” Psaki continued. “And they are constantly evaluating that, but I can’t get ahead of their process and what I anticipate in terms of any changes to travel restrictions.”
Earlier on Friday, British Airways owner IAG said it was relying on the resumption of long-haul international travel for it to make some headway in its recovery from the pandemic. The reopening of borders between the UK and USA would potentially turbocharge the airline group’s recovery.
Some analysts don’t expect current travel restrictions between the UK and US to be lifted until September – partly because case rates in the United States still remain comparably high despite the country’s successful vaccine rollout.
Virgin Atlantic plans to recall 1,000 cabin crew for a potential September reopening between the UK and USA but these plans could be brought forward if a travel corridor is announced sooner.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Chng via Unsplash
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.