Aviation and maritime minister Robert Courts has played down the prospect of a so-called "island policy" being introduced to complement what is expected to be a tentative resumption of international travel this spring.
Last year, the government maintained direct travel corridors with the likes of Spain’s Balearic and Canary Islands, and Portugal’s Azores and Madeira archipelagos, to allow quarantine-free leisure travel to these destinations to continue while travel to both the Spanish and Portuguese mainland incurred a self-isolation requirement upon return.
The government has since announced a formal traffic light regime to govern international travel, which will come into effect when international travel is permitted; 17 May remains the "at the very earliest" date for any such resumption.
It means, though, that if Spain is placed on the "red" or "amber" list when countries are assigned a traffic light status early next month, those travelling to the Balearics or Canaries will be required to self-isolate when they get home – even if the Covid situation on those islands is preferential to the mainland.
Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South, asked Courts – who appeared before the government’s transport committee on Wednesday (14 April) – if the government would treat islands differently under the traffic light framework outlined by the Global Travel Taskforce on Friday (9 April), citing the Canary Islands as an example of where such a policy could be beneficial.