Prices for flights to popular holiday destinations have skyrocketed after the government announced its updated 'green list' tonight.
The cost of heading to Ibiza, Majorca, Menorca and Malta surged by up to 60 per cent after they were added to the quarantine free areas.
Tickets for a return flight to Ibiza on July 3 and July 10 leaped from £92 to £139 while journeys on the same days to Malta surged from just £147 to £164.
The soaring costs came just minutes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced via Twitter which countries had made the cut for the green list.
He said the Balearic islands - Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca - along with Madeira, Grenada, Barbados, and Bermuda have all been downgraded from amber to green.
It means holidaymakers will be able to return from these countries without being forced into quarantine for 10 days when arriving back in the UK.
And, in a further boost to Britons, Mr Shapps said the Government will allow those who are double-jabbed to holiday in amber list countries later this summer without having to quarantine on their return.
The cost of heading to Ibiza (pictured), Majorca, Menorca and Malta surged by up to 60 per cent after they were added to the quarantine free areas
IBIZA: Tickets for a return flight to the party destination in the Balearic Islands on July 3 and July 10 leaped from £92 to £139
MAJORCA: A Jet2 plane out of the Essex airport to Majorca on those days leaped from £120 to £140 within moments of the announcement
MALTA: Ryanair's journey to Malta for the same dates - but at 4.55pm and 7.15am - also increased in cost from just £147 to £164
MENORCA: A trip with the same firm to nearby Menorca rose from £124 to £161
IN FULL: The UK's new travel green list
All changes will come into effect from Wednesday, June 30 at 4am:
The UK Government will move the following countries to the red list from June 30:
But within half an hour of his announcement prices for flights to the new green list destinations surged by up to 60 per cent.
Jet2's plane going from Stansted to Ibiza and back - at 6am on July 3 and 10.20am on July 10 - jumped by nearly 60 per cent, from £92 to £139.
Ryanair's journey to Malta for the same dates - but at 4.55pm and 7.15am - also increased in cost from just £147 to £164.
Meanwhile a Jet2 plane out of the Essex airport to Majorca on those days leaped from £120 to £140 within moments of the announcement. A trip with the same firm to nearby Menorca rose from £124 to £161.
Mr Shapps finally opened up parts of the world for sun starved British holidaymakers on Thursday night, with the several Mediterranean hotspots making the cut.
The list, which returning travellers are not required to self-isolate, was also extended to a number of Caribbean destinations including Bermuda, Antigua, Barbados and Grenada. The changes will be from 4am on June 30.
Mr Shapps cautioned all the additions, with the exception of Malta, had been added to the green watch list, signalling they are at risk of moving back to amber. Israel and Jerusalem have also been put on the watch list.
While the announcement came as some relief to the beleaguered travel industry, there was disappointment the Government had not gone further, with Greece, France, Italy and mainland Spain still on amber.
The Transport Secretary said the Government would continue to take a 'cautious' approach to reopening foreign travel.
But he said the rollout of the coronavirus vaccination programme meant they could start to look at plans for easing restrictions on travel from amber list countries as well.
He tweeted: 'Thanks to our successful vaccination programme, our intention is that later in the summer UK residents who are fully vaccinated will not have to isolate when travelling from amber list countries. We'll set out further details next month.'
He defended the decision not to go further, saying protecting public health remained the top priority.
He added: 'It's right that we continue with this cautious approach, to protect public health and the vaccine rollout as our top priority, while ensuring that our route out of the international travel restrictions is sustainable.'
Mr Shapps followed the administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland in adding Malta and Spain's Balearic islands to the ranks of green list countries.
French president joins Merkel's call for holidaymakers from UK to face quarantine in ALL EU states
France and Germany launched a joint push to make Britons quarantine on arrival in the EU today despite Boris Johnson hailing the 'real opportunity' of opening travel to double-jabbed holidaymakers.
Angela Merkel urged all EU states to follow Germany's lead by requiring travellers from the UK to quarantine.
'I will lobby for a more co-ordinated approach, particularly with regard to entries from regions where virus variants abound,' she said at a summit in Brussels today.
French president Emmanuel Macron echoed her hard line, saying: 'We must all be vigilant because the much-talked-about Delta variant is coming, which spreads much more rapidly than the other variants and affects people who are not vaccinated or who only have had one dose.
'For me, one of the issues of discussion is to be really taking co-ordinated decisions in terms of opening of borders to third countries and on recognising vaccines because at this stage we have to limit this to the vaccines that have been approved by the European medical authority.'
Environment Secretary George Eustice condemned the Franco-German stance. 'I'm not sure that such an approach would be justified given the highly advanced stage we are currently at now in terms of vaccination, with 80 per cent having had one jab and now 60 per cent having had the second jab,' he told LBC radio.
'I don't think such a move would be justified but obviously it's for individual countries to make these judgments.'
He said: 'Let's see where we get to with all this. I think that the real opportunity we all have now is to open up travel through the double jab.
'We've got more than 60 per cent of our population have now had two jabs, 83 per cent have had one jab, we're really getting through it now.
'I'm not going to claim that this summer, for travel purposes, is going to be like any other summer. I don't want to cast a pall over things but, as I said the other day, it will be different.
Earlier today Britons started gambling on booking foreign beach breaks to Malta and the Balearic islands before the changes were announced.
Hopeful tourists took to social media to reveal their plans for some summer sun abroad, with return flight prices as cheap as £21 for Malta and Ibiza and £26 to Mallorca over the next few months.
Even last-minute holidays were cheap, with Saturday-Saturday returns from July 3 to July 10 available through price comparison website Skyscanner for £87 to Ibiza, £120 to Mallorca and £147 to Valletta.
And one British tourist from Manchester, @speckysi, tweeted: 'It's Russian roulette time again, I've now booked Malta for next week - there's next to nothing cases and zero deaths. All I want is one week in the sun.'
Another, Tristan Dawson from Essex, tweeted that he had 'just booked Mallorca' and was 'determined to have a holiday' - while a third, Adam Courtney, said he had 'gambled and booked' a trip to Malta on Tuesday.
This morning, Cabinet minister George Eustice said the Government would take a cautious approach to changes to travel restrictions.
The Environment Secretary told Sky News: 'I want us to get back to a position where we can support those who want to travel to do so.
'Nobody likes the draconian restrictions we have had to put in place over this last year as we have wrestled with the pandemic.
'So, yes, we want to get to a position where we can support people who want to travel to be able to do so, but it is difficult.
'We are being cautious because the biggest threat still to our progress against this pandemic and the great progress we have made on vaccination is that there will be another variant somewhere that maybe hadn't been properly detected in another country and that that variant is more resistant to vaccination.
'That's the great challenge that we have got, that's why we are proceeding with caution.'
Mr Eustice also said Angela Merkel's call for more European countries to impose restrictions on British tourists was unjustified.
The German chancellor told the Bundestag yesterday that she would like other countries to follow her lead in placing quarantine requirements on Britons.
Mr Eustice told LBC radio: 'Each country is taking their own decisions on this, so it will be for them to judge what approach they want to take.
'I'm not sure that such an approach would be justified given the highly advanced stage we are currently at now in terms of vaccination, with 80 per cent having had one jab and now 60 per cent having had the second jab.
'I don't think such a move would be justified but obviously it's for individual countries to make these judgments.'
Opening up the Balearics is seen as a game changer as more than five million Brits visit Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca in a normal year.
Tory MP Henry Smith, chairman of the Future of Aviation Group, said: 'Frankly, these destinations should already be on the green list along with many others.
'It is a nonsense that people are not able to travel freely to countries that have lower rates of infection than we do.'
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: 'It's now or never if we are to have any sort of summer season and the data shows this can be done safely and proportionately with many more countries being added to the list.
'The future of our aviation industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports depends on it.'
Culture minister John Whittingdale hinted at positive news yesterday, saying: 'Hopefully it will be possible to increase that number' of countries on the green list.
Green list status is only allocated to destinations that can show they have low Covid rates and no significant problems with variants of concern. They also have to show that they can monitor for new variants.
Government scientists advised last month that Malta could be added to the green list, only to be overruled by ministers led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Latest figures suggest infection rates on the island are less than half those in the UK.
Asked about the prospect of restrictions being eased in the review, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: 'Of course I very much hope the world could open up.
'We've got to follow the data, and that's what we'll be doing in the meetings over the next few days.'
Ministers are also close to an agreement on the plan to end quarantine requirements for the fully vaccinated.
It is seen as the best chance for saving the travel sector this summer and would require travellers to prove their vaccination status either using the NHS app or with a paper record from their GP.
The Cabinet is split on the timing with some ministers favouring a July 9 start date and others wanting a more cautious approach.
A Government source said August is the most likely date but no final decision has been taken.
It comes after the vaccines minister revealed almost half of all adults aged 25 to 29 in England and a third of those aged 18 to 24 had now received their first dose of a coronavirus jab.
People arriving in the UK from green list destinations are not required to self-isolate, but there are currently no viable major tourist destinations in that tier.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this week that the Government is 'working on' plans to allow quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated Britons returning from amber locations.
It comes as the travel industry held a day of action yesterday to put pressure on the Government to reopen the sector and provide tailored financial support to businesses.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Nadhim Zahawi said that more than 14,000 lives had been saved by the vaccination programme, while 44,500 hospital admissions had also been averted in England - 2,500 in the past two weeks.
IBIZA: This Google Flights graph shows how prices drop to as low as £21 for a seven-day return by the start of August
MALLORCA: Flights to the island are available for just £26 if booking at the end of July, while there are also bargains in August
MENORCA: The Balearic island is a little more expensive to visit, with the return flights this summer available for £85
MALTA: Flights to the island can be very cheap if booking in August, but you must pick dates carefully to get a bargain
Referring to younger adults coming forward for their jab, the vaccines minister told a Downing Street press conference: 'The enthusiasm is making a huge difference.
'We have already given first doses to almost half of all 25 to 29-year-olds in England and only a week after the programme opened to all adults on Friday, one-third of people aged between 18 and 24 have had their first dose.
'To all of the young people who have stepped up, I want to say a huge thank you. You have protected yourself, you have protected your families, and you have protected your communities.'
The minister added that he was 'confident' that 66 per cent of adults could have had two jabs by July 19, which has been earmarked for when all remaining Covid-19 restrictions in England could be lifted.
As of 9am yesterday, there had been a further 16,135 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK - the highest reported daily toll since February 6.