UK Government Plans ‘Shake Up’ of Travel Traffic Light System

It will have an impact on travel to the ski resorts this coming winter and could lead to a surge in bookings according to some. The precise details are somewhat less clear. So, what might we expect to happen?

The Green and Amber categories could be removed and replaced with a new system.

The full changes will be revealed by October 1st, but some insiders say the details may come perhaps as early as next week.

The new rules may allow fully vaccinated travellers to go to countries with similarly high levels of vaccination as the UK – without the need for quarantine.

It is not much of a change, despite the government spin.

The red category, which is for countries which the government says should not be visited, will remain.

Of the main alpine countries Austria and Switzerland are on the UK’s Green List with France and Italy on the Amber List.

Travellers coming from green list countries do not need to quarantine when they come back to the UK – whether or not they have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

They currently still have to be tested before their return to the UK and book a test for day two after their return.

They also need to fill in a passenger location form.

The other Green list ski countries include  Canada, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Innsbruck airport

Innsbruck airport, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Of the other main ski nations Andorra, Japan, Spain, Sweden and the USA are currently on the Amber list.

Fully-vaccinated adults do not have to quarantine on their return from amber list countries, but they do have to have tests before returning and two days after they get back.

Those who have not had both vaccines have to isolate at home for 10 days, as well as having Covid tests.

Some of the details of what might happen have been revealed by the BBC.

Our analysis at PlanetSKI is that the leaks and briefings paint a picture that is not much different from the current rules, despite the observations of the BBC and some selected newspapers.

The key to open up travel is not quarantine, but testing.

One senior figure at a UK ski agent went to Greece last week with his family.

“The testing, the stress, the cost and everything else was an utter nightmare. Unless this changes I have severe reservations about next winter as people will just not want all the hassle,” he said to us.

“Short breaks and weekend trips will be a non-starter.”

The government has asked senior travel industry leaders to make proposals for international travel to replace the current traffic light system.

One of the key demands from snowsport travel companies is the removal of Covid testing as a necessity of travel back to the UK ahead of winter.

They say the cost and the effort is putting people off booking ski holidays.

Such a change would bring the UK in line with much of EU which does not require testing for fully vaccinated travellers within the bloc.

The UK voted to leave the EU in 2016 and is now not bound by its policies.

A relaxation in travel rules would likely lead to a winter bookings surge, which may protect the snowsports jobs of those currently on furlough.

The furlough scheme finishes as the end of September.

“Decisions on our traffic light system are kept under regular review and are informed by the latest risk assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and wider public health factors,” said a government spokesperson to the BBC.

Related Stories:

Ski resorts in Europe start to announce opening dates

Italy ends quarantine for fully vaccinated people from the UK

US resorts announce opening dates

Switzerland, Finland and Canada go on the UK’s Green List

Here at PlanetSKI we are making further enquiries and will be updating as soon as we hear more…