Destinations in danger of being moved from “green” to “amber” status under the new traffic light system could be given two weeks’ notice under the “green watchlist” initiative.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps told the House of Commons that he had “concerns about when a country jumps from one category to another”, which was why the green watchlist category was being introduced for the proposed restart of international travel on 17 May.
“We are taking a couple of different steps to try to help with that,” he added. “One is to have a green watchlist where we are able to flag up – perhaps a couple of weeks in advance – to say that we are looking at a variation of interest, which could turn into a variation of concern, in order to help provide a bit more forward guidance this year.
Shapps again confirmed that the government would announce if non-essential travel could resume from England on 17 May in “early May”.
He added each country’s status would be determined by four factors: the level of Covid-19 infections, the number of vaccines dispensed, concerns over coronavirus variants, and the quality of data available.
Shapps also addressed the issue of testing and said that the requirement for arriving travellers to take expensive PCRs tests would be reviewed through three “separate checkpoints” with the first taking place on 28 June.
“It is a question very much for the scientists to let us know whether PCR or lateral flow tests would be the appropriate test for a day two [test],” he told MPs.
“I am very anxious to get the cost of those tests down. I can bring some good news: there are now test providers providing tests for £60 and, indeed, one now for £44.90.”
When asked about the current long queues to go through immigration at UK airports, Shapps said the government “will be addressing this issue through beginning to automate the e-gates with the pre-departure form” when international travel resumes.