Where’s safer to holiday – countries with huge jab programmes and low Covid cases

The UK government has said that summer holidays abroad will be on the cards for Brits – but it hasn’t yet confirmed which destinations will be on the list.

Foreign travel could resume in England from May 17 at the earliest, and when it does this will be under a traffic light system with countries placed on a green, amber or red list. These determine if Brits returning to the UK will need to self-isolate or quarantine, as well as any extra Covid testing measures (all travellers returning to the UK, regardless of destination, will need to take a pre-departure Covid test).

The green list will no doubt be the most appealing for holidaymakers, as it won’t require self-isolation or quarantine when you return to the UK.

Currently we don’t have a confirmed list from the government, although a destination’s number of Covid cases and its vaccination programme are likely going to be key factors on whether Brits will be able to head there for holidays.

We take a look at some of the strongest contenders where vaccine roll outs are high and Covid cases are low…

Gibraltar

A monkey sits on a rock at the top of Gibraltar Rock
A monkey sits on a rock at the top of Gibraltar Rock

Gibraltar has had a very successful vaccine roll-out with over 85% of its adults already having received their jab. (In fact, it’s one of the first countries in the world to vaccinate the majority of its population).

This and the fact that there are very low case numbers has meant lockdown restrictions in Gibraltar have been lifted almost completely , with bars and restaurants open and no limits on the number of people who can gather.

There are still some rules in place such as face mask rules – you can find out more in the Foreign Office advice – but this is one that we’d be very surprised not to see on the green list for Brits this summer.

Malta

Marsaxlokk market in Malta with traditional Luzzu fishing boats on a beautiful summer day with blue sky and green sea
Marsaxlokk market in Malta

Malta has relatively low numbers of Covid cases, has a successful vaccination roll-out and has started to ease its lockdown restrictions, so it could be in shape for the green list come summer.

Malta, Gozo and Comino are due to reopen to tourists from June 1, 2021, including Brits who are vaccinated against Covid-19. You won’t need to take a Covid test, but you will need to show proof of your vaccine.

Oh, and the fact that the island is offering to pay tourists to visit this summer is something to take note of for your holiday planning!

Greek Islands

Amazing view on remote church with red roofing on the Cliff of the sea, Greece
The Greek islands could be on the cards

While Greece overall has been seeing a third wave of Covid cases, it’s worth noting that the islands have smaller populations, and lower Covid numbers.

In fact, under the travel corridors system the Foreign Office advised against travel to Greece, but exempted the likes of Rhodes, Kos and Corfu.

There is currently a push across the islands to vaccinate their population in time to welcome Brits back in May, to keep both residents and tourists safe.

The scheme, dubbed Operation Freedom, could see over 60 islands’ populations vaccinated ahead of the planned May restart.

Anguilla

A couple walk holding hands on the Shoal Bay East beach on the Caribbean island of Anguilla
Shoal Bay in Anguilla

The Caribbean islands have generally had lower case numbers because of their smaller populations – and Anguilla is a prime example.

The island has only had 25 cases of Covid during the pandemic, and no deaths.

Currently, it’s estimated that between 65-70% of the population will have been fully vaccinated by the end of June 2021.

There are some restrictions in place for foreign visitors such as quarantine – but the island has introduced dedicated resort bubbles so guests can enjoy their hotel, pool, beach and even restaurants during their isolation period.

(If you’re fully vaccinated, you can also cut your quarantine time down from 14 days to 7 days).

Barbados

A view of the beach huts and palm trees in Oistins in Barbados
Oistins in Barbados

Last year when travel corridors were in place, Barbados was one of the destinations open to holidaymakers, so it could be that a similar scenario is in place when the green list is unveiled.

The island is currently rolling out a vaccine programme and has low Covid case numbers – not to mention that these are currently decreasing.

The Maldives

A boardwalk leading to over-the-water villas with thatched roofs in the Maldives and the turquoise ocean waters
Maldives is famous for those over the water villas

Most of the island resorts are naturally socially distanced, so it’s no surprise that the Maldives has previously remained on the cards for Brits when some international travel was possible last year.

The islands are still open to foreign tourists so if restrictions do lift in the UK they could be a strong contender for holidays. (You’ll just need to show proof of a negative PCR test to gain entry).

Portugal

A view of Carvoeiro, Portugal
Carvoeiro, Portugal

Portugal was previously on England’s existing red list, but was removed in March along with Madeira and the Azores.

The country plans to welcome Brits back from May, provided they can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test or proof that they have been fully vaccinated.

Although there has been an increase in Covid case numbers, the country is rolling out a vaccination programme, so it could be that come summer time it’s one of the destinations on offer for Brits.

Mauritius

A beautiful beach in Mauritius
A beautiful beach in Mauritius

Like Portugal, Mauritius was removed from England’s red list earlier this year.

The island has relatively low numbers of cases and it has a fairly successful vaccine roll out.

Currently international flights are suspended to Mauritius, so it will be dependent on the island’s own restrictions when the UK’s restrictions lift, but there are hopes that the country could be looking to reopen to tourists from late June if its vaccination programme continues to be successful.

Iceland

A woman swimming in Iceland's blue lagoon
A woman swimming in Iceland’s blue lagoon

Iceland has already reopened its borders to vaccinated Brits, so when UK restrictions lift it could be one of the hotspots on the green list.

The country has low numbers of Covid cases which are steadily continuing to decrease, and its vaccination programme could see the majority of its population having received their jab by the end of July.

The Seychelles

Coconut Palm trees on a sandy beach in the Seychelles with turquoise ocean waters on a sunny day
The Seychelles boast some ridiculously beautiful sandy beaches

The Seychelles have had low case numbers throughout the pandemic, and it’s already estimated to have vaccinated over half of its population, so it could be one for the green list when travel reopens.

The islands are already open to tourists – vaccinated or not – who can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours before travel.

The USA

Aerial view of Liberty island in front of Manhattan. New York. USA
US holidays could be on the cards too

Vaccines are being rolled out across the USA – and Joe Biden has said that all US adults would be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine by late April.

Meanwhile, Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency has previously said that the UK and US governments are currently in talks regarding introducing a form of ‘travel corridor’ between the countries – and it could be in place by June.

Some states have already been preparing for a return of tourists, although this has predominantly for US residents only. For example, the Hawaiian island of Kauai launched ‘resort bubbles’ which allowed visitors to cut their quarantine time down from 10 days to just three days – and they can spend those three days exploring their hotel.

What country are you hoping features on the green list? Let us know in the comments below.




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