Frustration Grows in British ‘Confusing’ Traffic Light System


In the government’s latest assessment on July 14, industry experts cite the “green list” of countries such as Italy, Germany and Canada, and Turkey and the United Arab Emirates “red,” based on the number of cases and vaccination rates of countries. However, only Bulgaria and Hong Kong were upgraded to green. No country has been off the red list since the traffic light system started.

The government dismissed criticism for its cautious approach, saying it was necessary to preserve the country’s successful vaccine program as it grappled with a new surge in Covid cases caused by the highly contagious Delta variant.

“Our international travel policy is driven by public health, which is an overwhelming priority,” a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation said in an email, speaking anonymously in line with government policy. “Traffic light allocations are based on a number of factors, including genomic surveillance capacity, transmission risk, and worrying variables.”

Britain’s travel operators have called for an immediate overhaul of the system, saying the lack of transparency and sudden changes are wreaking havoc among consumers and businesses and could put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, more than 300,000 jobs were lost in the British travel industry last year, and 218,000 jobs are more severely at risk if international travel remains restricted.

“While the local holiday market is reaping the benefits of ‘Liberty Day’ as accommodation explodes, we’re not out of the woods yet,” said Virginia Messina, WTTC’s senior vice president.

“International travel is either deportation or frustratingly difficult for many,” he added. “This means that the important overseas travel door still remains effectively closed.”


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