British PM Johnson outlines May 17 for possible return to international travel

Apr 5, 2021

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On Monday, April 5, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the path for England to return to international travel. Johnson said the data suggests a gradual reopening can begin, but “We can’t be complacent.”

Still Johnson, is advising people not to book foreign holidays right now, “We’re hopeful,” but “we’ll be setting out what we think is reasonable.” He suggested that there would be final details soon.

He also said all countries are looking at vaccine passports, but he didn’t have anything new to report on vaccination certification for now.

Holiday-starved Britons may be able to get away on a holiday to destinations that are set to open their borders as soon as May 17, but no guarantees at the moment.

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Johnson, said, “We see nothing in the present data that suggests we will need to deviate from our roadmap.”

The prime minister and his team say the country will introduce a “traffic light” system for international travel beginning as early as May 17. Passengers coming from so-called “green” countries will not need to quarantine on their arrival in the U.K., but they will need to test prior to and on the return from travel.

People from “red” or “yellow” countries will still need to quarantine. The prime minister said it’s too early to list which countries get which color code, but those details will come soon.

“Red” countries are likely to be the same ones that are currently on the red travel ban list (there are 39 countries right now). And only British residents will be allowed in from those countries and they will still have to hotel quarantine.

Related: All the countries on the UK red list

Those who have been vaccinated, have had a recent negative test or can show proof they already had COVID-19, may be allowed to attend live events. There will be a test program in mid-April at nine upcoming gatherings. Those include Liverpool’s Hot Water Comedy Club, the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield and the FA Cup semi-final and final at Wembley.

Starting April 12, nonessential shops, hairdressers and beauty salons can reopen. Outdoor restaurants and other hospitality venues can also reopen and will be limited to groups of six, or larger groups from two or fewer households. Johnson said he would be going to a pub himself of April 12 and would raise a glass.

Just last week, Johnson announced that everyone in England would be able to get twice-weekly rapid coronavirus tests beginning 9 April.


Johnson’s announcement will be followed with additional details that are set to be outlined on April 12 by the Global Travel Taskforce, led by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Related:  White House won’t require vaccine passports

When Johnson first outlined England’s roadmap out of lockdown on February 22, he said that the government would rely on “data, not dates” for reopening England. As such, the dates for a return to travel have largely remained up in the air.

In the initial roadmap out of lockdown, Johnson said that some domestic travel could resume April 12 at the earliest, when vacation rentals, like Airbnbs, will be permitted to reopen. On April 12, the new Global Travel Taskforce is set to reveal its findings to the prime minister for a safe return to international travel. The earliest date for that return is May 17, though it could be pushed back.

Related: Everything you need to know about visiting the UK

In the aftermath of that announcement, the beleaguered aviation and travel industries saw some immediate relief. Notably, travel providers saw booms in bookings by as much as 600%, showing that the pent-up demand from travelers is there.

Several airlines – specifically low-cost carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet — have announced that they plan an expanded summer season. In order to capitalize on the pent-up demand of travelers, they have announced new routes from the U.K. to Europe in anticipation of the return to international travel.

Related: Despite third wave fears, Ryanair expects to fly at 80% capacity in Europe this summer

It’s worth noting that May 17 is still more than a month away. If the third wave of the pandemic spreading across Europe continues at the same rate, it’s possible that England’s return to travel could be pushed back. Because of that, it’s still important to take note of the rebooking and cancellation policies on any travel you plan to book ahead of this summer season.

It’s also worth noting that Monday’s announcement applies to the resumption of international travel for England only. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales largely have their own plans for a return to travel. However, if summer 2020 is any indication, we can expect to see similar travel corridors and policies between the involved nations.

Additional reporting by Clint Henderson.

Featured image from news conference on Downing Street on April 5, 2021 in London, England by Stefan Rousseau-WPA Pool/Getty Images.

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