MILLIONS of sun-starved Brits will today finally get the green light for travel to a slew of sunshine isles.
Holidaymakers can jet off for a week or more in Malta and Madeira and avoid quarantining when they get back as a new travel green list kicks in at 4am next Wednesday.
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The Balearic islands of Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca were last night also on the cusp of being added, with a final decision being made at a meeting today.
And in more good news, The Sun can reveal family holidays abroad could cost £500 less under plans to slash the number of expensive tests faced by double-jabbed Brits on their return. Instead of up to three, they may need just one.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to bump up the holiday islands in changes separate to the Government looking into allowing those who’ve had two vaccine doses, and their kids, to avoid quarantine.
Pressure is mounting for those measures to be unveiled when lockdown is due to end on July 19.
Travel expert Paul Charles, from consultancy The PC Agency, said: “The data proves most amber countries are safe to travel to and from now, so quarantine should be removed in line with the great UK unlocking.”
Currently, Brits have to get at least two tests when returning from green-list countries, while amber countries require a minimum of three. Gold standard PCR tests required for entry to the UK cost around £120, meaning a massive burden on travelling families.
But the Transport department has drawn up plans to slash the number of tests for double-jabbed returnees from amber countries in August.
Ministers are meeting today to hammer out the new rules, though they have been met with fierce resistance from the Home Office and Department of Health.
Last night, a Government source told The Sun: “We want to get things moving, but the usual suspects want to be more cautious.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of cabin crew, pilots and travel agents called on ministers to relax the rules to avoid a summer of “chaos”. They joined a day of action organised by industry body Abta outside Parliament in Westminster, Holyrood in Edinburgh and Stormont in Belfast.
The demonstrators, many wearing uniform, took over College Green in central London, carrying placards reading “speak up for travel” and “allow safe travel overseas”.
Paul Naylor, 49, from Steppes Travel, said: “We’ve got people crying out for a holiday whether short or long-haul, and our industry is totally and utterly dependent on the Government regulations.
“We understand safety comes first but we just need the help and support to get us through because an industry in demand should not be allowed to go under.”
Arron Mitchell, director of Syte Travel, said: “What we really need is a tourism minister that understands the entire outbound tourism industry, because no one in Parliament understands how travel works. They refuse to meet with the industry leaders.
“We need tailored support for the travel industry, an expansive green list and freedom to travel for those that are double vaccinated.”
Protesters also demanded transparency over why the Government has failed to put countries with low Covid rates on the green list despite them apparently meeting the criteria for inclusion.
Travel operators said they had been hit with costs and had not been able to take full advantage of support measures such as the furlough scheme because staff were needed to manage bookings and process refunds for cancellations.
Bharat Gadhoke, of the Association of Independent Tour Operators, added: “People have sold their house, their car, taken their pension out to pay money back and we are still in the position where the Government slops around what they’re going to do. It’s been chaos.”
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said: “They’ve created a traffic light systems which has tests, it has quarantine, it has checks and is risk-assessed and we understood that.
“And then it is suddenly overlayed by, ‘You shouldn’t be travelling anyway’ — and that has dented consumer confidence and bookings.”
While Brits are kept at home, Germans have been allowed to fly to islands such as Majorca. Last night, Mr Shapps said: “Of course I very much hope the world could open up.
“We’ve got to follow the data, and that’s what we’ll be doing in the meetings over the next few days.”
He spoke as the number of Covid cases in the UK rose by 16,135 — the highest daily number of new infections in almost five months.
The total since the pandemic began now stands at 4,667,870.
Deaths also rose, by 19, taking the toll to 128,027.
A total of 75,188,795 vaccinations have been given with 31,740,115 people having had two doses.
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