For the government’s final assessment, on July 14, industry experts had expected countries such as Italy, Germany and Canada to be moved to the “green list” and Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to be upgraded to “amber” from “red,” based on the countries’ case number and vaccination rates.But only Bulgaria and Hong Kong were upgraded to green.No country has moved off the red list since the traffic light system started.
The government has rejected criticism of its cautious approach, saying it is necessary to protect the country’s successful vaccination program while struggling with a new wave of Covid cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.
“Our international travel policy is governed by an overwhelming priority – public health,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Transport, who spoke anonymously in line with government policy, said in an email. “Allocation of traffic lights is based on a number of factors, including genomic surveillance capability, transmission risk and variants of concern.”
UK tour operators have called for an immediate overhaul of the system, saying the lack of transparency and sudden changes have devastated consumers and businesses and could put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk.
More than 300,000 jobs were lost in the UK travel sector last year, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, and a further 218,000 jobs are at serious risk if international travel remains limited, it said.
“While the domestic holiday market is reaping the benefits of ‘Freedom Day’, with residence cations thriving, we are not out of the woods yet,” said Virginia Messina, senior vice president of the WTTC.
“International travel remains either borderless or frustratingly difficult for many,” she added. “This means that the door to significant travel abroad is still effectively closed.”