Families desperate for a sunshine holiday should finally learn which destinations are ranked green, amber or red for travel on Friday – as seven out of 10 Britons back forcing all passengers into hotel quarantine when they return.
People are so scared about importing vaccine-resistant coronavirus variants that they support sending arrivals from all foreign countries straight to self-isolation at Government-approved facilities, according to a poll.
The study comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is due to unveil the “traffic light” regime, grading countries’ risk for non-essential overseas travel from May 17.
Passengers returning from red countries will have to quarantine at Government-sanctioned hotels.
Those coming back from amber nations must self-isolate at home for 10 days.
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People landing from green zones will not have to quarantine but must test negative for Covid-19 after arriving home.
Some 79% of 2,002 adults Ipsos Mori quizzed online between April 30 and May 2 were worried about vaccine-resistant strains being brought into Britain,
including 39% who were very concerned.
Only 18% were not anxious.
An overwhelming 79% backed stopping people entering the UK from countries with higher levels of infections, while 67% supported stopping people returning from any other country.
Seven in 10 favoured making people quarantine in hotels when they return from any foreign country.
The pollster’s public affairs managing director Kelly Beaver said: “Our latest polling on the pandemic shows that whilst people are generally less concerned about coronavirus, the public remain concerned about the potential for vaccine-resistant strains knocking our recovery off course.
“We are even prepared to sacrifice foreign travel if needed, with a majority of Brits saying they would support stopping people entering the UK from any foreign country in order to stop variants spreading at home – which may impact people’s summer holiday plans for another year.”
Ministers, experts and officials have spent weeks examining data as they prepare to publish the traffic light system which travel chiefs hope will revive the industry.
Assessments will be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
Green list nations are expected to include Portugal, Malta, Gibraltar, Iceland and Israel. Demand for flights to Portugal – visited by about 2.5
million Brits in 2019 – is surging. British Airways is charging £530 for a flight from Heathrow to the Algarve on May 17. Flying the same route two days earlier costs just £234.
A Ryanair flight from Stansted to Portuguese capital Lisbon on the day overseas leisure travel is due to restart is £152, compared with £15 on May 16.
EasyJet is charging £234 for a flight from Luton to the Algarve on May 17, but just £73 the following day.
Senior airline figures have urged the Government to slash the cost of coronavirus tests needed for travel – and called for clarity around vaccination passports.
Britain’s biggest holiday firm Tui ramped up the stakes in the battle of the sunshine breaks by launching bargain £20 Covid testing kits.
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The package of a lateral flow test and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test which passengers will need to carry out even if they visit a green country has cut the cost by £100.
It means a family of four booked for a holiday to a nation deemed “safe”
will pay £80 for tests to show they are free of Covid-19 on the outward and return journeys instead of a wallet-busting £480.
Tui will also offer passengers affordable Covid tests for travel to amber countries – expected to include Spain, France, Greece and Italy – for £50 per person.
The kits have all that is needed under new rules with a pre-departure lateral flow test and two PCR tests for back home to be carried out two days and eight days after returning.
Airlines and consumer groups voiced fears the cost of Government-approved tests, which can be as steep as £500, would make holidays the realm of the rich.
Tui’s UK managing director Andrew Flintham said they would “make travel a possibility this summer and beyond”.
He added: “Our research has shown that customers are looking forward to their much-needed holiday overseas, but affordable and easy testing solutions was imperative to make this a reality.
“The new exclusive testing packages have been developed with our customers in mind – they’re offered at greatly reduced prices, include certification to travel and will be a simple process from start to finish.
“Also, should testing requirements change between purchase and travel, for example if an amber package is purchased and the destination moves onto the green list, we’ll simply refund the difference.”
Consumer group Which? welcomed the cut-price tests but called on the Government to make the kits affordable for all so smaller holiday firms did not miss out.
Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: “Tui launching an affordable testing package for holidays to green list countries is great news – but only for Tui customers.
“Other larger holiday companies that can afford to subsidise test costs may follow suit, but medium and small travel firms may struggle to compete, and holidaymakers could face reduced choice as a result.
“People should not have to shop around for mandatory tests if they want to travel, or have their hand forced as to who they book with based on limited provision of cheap tests.
“The Government must work to reduce the cost of testing across the board,
rather than have consumers rely on a system that is currently fragmented and flawed.”
Minsters are desperate not to jeopardise the success of the UK’s vaccination scheme when international travel reopens.
Figures last night(THU) showed another 139,097 people received first doses and 404,226 their second, taking the total of fully vaccinated Brits to 16,291,719.
Some 34,934,171 have had their first jab.
Another 2,613 people tested positive for Covid-19, with 13 more deaths – taking the toll to 127,583.