UK confirms Gibraltar on green list for travel
Gibraltar was yesterday confirmed as one of 12 destinations on the UK Government’s new green list for travel, raising hopes of summer recovery for a crucial sector of the Rock’s economy.
People in England can visit destinations including Gibraltar, Portugal and Israel from May 17 without self-isolating on their return, the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) announced.
The green list also consists of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland and the Faroe Islands and the Falklands.
This is in addition to the remote territories of the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha.
The news was welcomed last night by operators in the travel sector who hoped it would signal that start of the return of tourists to the Rock after a year of lockdown restrictions that has crippled businesses dependant on visitors.
Henry Catania, Director of Calypso Group, said the announcement was “definitely a step in the right direction” for Gibraltar, but hoped to hear more about other sectors such as cruise liners starting up again.
“We still need to see the cruises come back to Gibraltar, but hopefully the signs are that they will be coming back around September or October,” he told the Chronicle.
“Hopefully and more importantly, we also want to see the Costa del Sol tourists coming in through our coach park, but with Spain not being on the green list, it could be a drawback this time round for people visiting the Costa and making their way to Gibraltar.”
“Although it is good news, the bigger and best news is still to come.”
“This is the road leading up to normality but there is still a long way.”
The UK’s decision had been widely anticipated and was also welcomed last night by the Gibraltar Government, which has liaised closely with the UK Government in recent weeks to ensure the Rock was included in the first tranche of green list destinations.
Gibraltar’s effective vaccination programme means most of the adult population has been jabbed, allowing the cautious lifting of restrictions and a return to normality.
And intense test, track and trace campaign remains in place to ensure a swift response to any new infections, although there have been no new resident cases detected for over six weeks.
As of last night, there were just three active cases on the Rock, all visitors.
Likewise the ability to analyse the nature of any new cases in Gibraltar will enable the authorities to rapidly establish the type of strain and whether it is a variant of concern.
“This is great news for Gibraltar and reflects the great work done by our health and public health services, by Sam Sacramento and by Vijay Daryanani, as well as the support we have had from the UK on vaccines and from the FCDO and the Convent in Gibraltar,” Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the Chronicle.
Although there are 12 destinations on the UK list, Gibraltar is one of the few places where UK residents will actually be able to travel.
Despite being on the green list, people will not be able to go on holiday to Australia, New Zealand or Singapore as they are closed to UK tourists.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the removal of international travel restrictions was “necessarily cautious” and that the Government must “make absolutely sure” the countries the UK reconnects with are safe.
He said: “We in this country have managed to construct a fortress against Covid. But the disease is still prevalent in other parts of the world, most notably at the moment in India.
“In fact, more new cases of Covid have been diagnosed around the world in the last seven days than at any time since the pandemic began.”
He added: “That’s why today’s announcement, removing the stay in the UK restrictions from May 17, is necessarily cautious.
“We must make absolutely sure that the countries we reconnect with are safe, that their infection rates are low and their vaccination rates are high.
“It means making sure we are not incubating the most dangerous variants that they’re not and that they have safe and secure surveillance in place.”
The most popular European destinations with UK holidaymakers – such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece – are on the amber list.
That means people returning from those countries must self-isolate at home for at least five days.
But Mr Shapps said “you should not be travelling to these places right now”.