No new countries have been added to the list of green tier countries in the first review since the system was introduced last May, including Hungary, which is now, along with all other EU member states, among the yellow tier countries still under quarantine healthy.
On May 17, the British government introduced a colour-coded system similar to traffic lights, which uses the green, yellow and red categories to identify the conditions under which you can enter England from abroad.
The British government justified the reclassification of Portugal, the only EU country in green so far, to yellow on the grounds that Portugal recently doubled the proportion of positive coronavirus tests in all screening tests conducted.
As of Tuesday morning, seven countries – Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Trinidad and Tobago – had moved to the tougher red category.
Of the red category countries, only British and Irish nationals or foreigners with a UK residence permit are allowed in, but upon arrival they must complete a mandatory ten-day quarantine in a British government-guarded hotel.
This quarantine costs £1,750 (over £700,000) per participant and must be paid by passengers. There are a few countries in the green category: these include Israel, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Iceland, Gibraltar, and some of the Atlantic and Caribbean archipelagos.
The yellow category is the group of the most populous countries. The British government includes Hungary – with Portugal reclassified as of Tuesday morning – all other EU member states, including Spain, Greece, France and Italy, which are among the most popular holiday destinations for British tourists.
Those arriving from yellow countries must remain in quarantine for ten days, undergo one coronavirus test before departure and two after arrival, and order two English language screening machines at their own expense at their UK address on the UK government’s online interface.
Ahead of Portugal’s reclassification on Tuesday, a veritable air bridge was launched between the resorts of England and Portugal, where tens of thousands of British tourists were staying at the time the government decree was issued. As of Tuesday dawn, dozens of private planes had carried passengers, many of whom had to return home before the end of their scheduled stay.
BBC Radio reported on Tuesday that the last such special flight between Faro in southern Portugal and Doncaster Sheffield airport in northern England was made by Wizz Air before the austerity regulation went into effect on Tuesday morning.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of British Airways, the UK’s leading civil aviation organisation, told the BBC on Tuesday that with this kind of government risk management it was “very hard to imagine this being a summer travel season”.
Alderslade hinted that just three weeks before the current reclassification, Portugal was still in the green on the day the new color-coding system was introduced.
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