UK adds Balearic Islands to amber list in blow to younger tourists

·2-min read
Arriving passengers queue at UK Border Control at the Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London

LONDON (Reuters) -Travellers returning to England from the Spanish islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca will have to quarantine at home unless they have had two COVID vaccine shots, following a change in policy that could spell bad news for young holidaymakers.

Britain has one of the fastest vaccination programmes in the world but so far the government has effectively prevented travel to most countries through quarantine and testing rules.

It has introduced a traffic light system that grades countries based on their COVID-19 risk. People returning from those countries must follow different rules - from producing regular tests to quarantining at home and in expensive hotels.

From next Monday it will allow fully-vaccinated passengers to travel without quarantine to all countries except those with the highest COVID-19 risk, which are on a red list.

However, the government said on Wednesday the Balearic Islands would be added to the amber list, which means that those younger adults who have not yet had two shots would need to quarantine at home for 10 days on their return.

The islands are hugely popular with young British tourists.

Britain's battered airline and tourism industry is desperate for a full summer holiday season. While the industry has welcomed the lifting of quarantine for amber countries, it said the latest change to the list would hammer confidence.

"Moving countries between the tiers like this is shattering consumer trust during an already unpredictable booking season," said Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body.

The British Virgin Islands were also moved to amber, while Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone were put on to its red list, meaning anyone travelling back from there would need to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.

The government added Hong Kong and Bulgaria to the green list from July 19, the statement said.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Alistair Smout and Gareth Jones)