Boris Johnson says travel red list is under 'constant review'
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It means Covid-weary families will be able to jet off to destinations such as Portugal, Malta, Gibraltar, the Maldives and some Caribbean islands as soon as mid-May. The Prime Minister will formally announce a “green list” of countries where non-essential travel will be allowed next week. “This is a small step on the road to normality,” a Downing Street source said.
It is the latest in a raft of good news as the UK roars back to life with Mr Johnson announcing greater freedoms for care home residents from next week.
And in a further boost, a leading economist has predicted the UK is about to experience its biggest economic boom since the aftermath of World War Two.
Barclays boss Jes Staley said the incredible coronavirus vaccine programme and combined with £200 billion built-up savings will help to drive the rebound.
“We estimate the UK economy will grow at its fastest rate since 1948. That’s pretty spectacular,” he said.
Mr Johnson’s roadmap to freedom could see foreign travel resume from May 17.
Under the new travel plans countries will be divided into green, amber and red lists which will determine rules for quarantine and testing when you return to the UK.
The green list is the most appealing for holidaymakers because it doesn’t require self-isolation or quarantine. It could include up to 24 countries.
France has already announced vaccinated Britons can travel to the country from early June, while Greece also offered hope of non-essential travel over the summer.
The source added: “Down the line more countries will be added to the green list.
“This is just the beginning – though we are hopeful that holidaymakers will have a wide variety of choice.
“We recognise how important holidays are for so many people and that people have been patient for a long time. The safety of the public is still paramount and these decisions will be taken carefully to ensure we’re protected from any new variants.”
But some countries like Australia, which Britain would want to allow travel to, are reluctant to admit British tourists in.
Further good news for tourists came as it was revealed that the cost of coronavirus tests for holidaymakers has dropped to as little as £45 each under government plans to force down prices.
Meanwhile, across England coronavirus cases have fallen to record lows, with every region in the country reporting reductions in the infection rate.
Experts say the UK as a whole is moving out of the pandemic and into a more manageable stage.
With the pandemic now receding in the UK the government has announced that all care home residents will be able to participate in more out of home visits without having to isolate on their return.
From Tuesday 4 May, residents will also be able to leave their care homes to visit a friend or family member’s garden, or go on walks in places such as parks, public gardens and beaches.
They will not have to self-isolate when they return.
Residents must be accompanied by either a care worker or nominated visitor and follow the government guidelines of washing hands regularly, keeping social distance and remaining outside, in line with step 2 of the roadmap.
The changes come as the data shows cases continuing to fall meaning it is now much safer for care home residents, who are among the most vulnerable to Covid-19, to leave their homes.
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Keeping visits outdoors will ensure any risk is minimised as much as possible.
The Prime Minister said: “We know how challenging this time has been for care home residents, so I am pleased that they can now leave their homes to reunite with their loved ones outdoors.
“With the data continuing to head in the right direction and as restrictions ease, it is my priority to keep increasing visits for residents in the coming weeks in a safe and controlled way.”
Minister for Care, Helen Whately said: “I know residents and their families have found the restrictions on trips out of care homes incredibly difficult. This is one more step towards getting back to normal, while protecting care homes from the continued risk of Covid-19.
“As part of this interim update before the next stage of the roadmap, care home residents will also be able to leave to spend time outdoors. I know this has been long-awaited for those who haven’t had a chance to enjoy trips out. I look forward to encouraging more visiting and trips out in future as we turn the tide on this cruel virus.”
To take part in outdoor activities, residents will be accompanied by a member of care home staff or one of their nominated visitors and they cannot meet in groups as care home residents are most at risk from COVID-19.
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Visits out of the care home should take place solely outdoors, except for the use of toilet facilities, with no visits to indoor spaces (public or private) and avoiding the use of public transport where possible.
An exemption will be in place for those who wish to vote in person in the upcoming local elections as long as they follow national coronavirus restrictions and measures in place at polling stations. While the majority of residents will have made use of postal votes or a proxy, those who prefer to vote in person can do so on May 6.
Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care, Professor Deborah Sturdy said: “The pandemic has been so incredibly challenging for those living in care homes and our social care workforce have done a heroic job of keeping their residents safe and supported. I know this change to the guidance will be hugely welcomed by many and give so many the chance to safely leave their home.”
Arrangements in areas with high, or rapidly rising, levels of infection in the local community and/or variants of concern (VoCs) will need additional local advice from Directors of Public Health.
Latest statistics show that 95 percent of residents have received their first dose of the vaccine and 71 percent have received their second.
Residents who have tested positive, or who have COVID-19 symptoms must self-isolate and would therefore not be able to leave the care home. In the event of an outbreak all residents must self-isolate, and visits out suspended to prevent the spread of the virus.
An analysis by the PC Agency, a travel consultancy, said that based on current rates of infection and vaccine take-up, as many as 24 countries or British overseas territories could be declared green for May 17.
This includes other destinations such as Israel and Morocco. Caribbean islands that could open up include Antigua, Barbados, Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and St Lucia, plus Bermuda in the North Atlantic.
Not all these countries have high vaccination rates but are still considered likely candidates because of low overall cases of Covid-19. Most require proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test before entry.
Ministers will keep the initial list limited but the PC Agency said it expected it to more than double from June 28 to include countries such as Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Poland and the US.
Paul Charles, chief executive of the PC Agency, said: “While most European countries will be in a position to reopen in June, there are still some countries which are in a safe and stable enough position to reopen in May, namely the likes of Malta, Gibraltar, Barbados and Portugal. Vaccine rollouts are picking up pace in Europe and also in the Caribbean.”
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