Cayman has been excluded from Britain’s new quarantine-free travel ‘green list’ despite having a vaccination rate of almost double the UK and no community transmission of COVID-19 since last year.
The UK government has included four of its Overseas Territories on its new green list, but Cayman, along with all Caribbean countries, is included in the ‘amber list’, which requires people travelling to the UK to self-isolate upon arrival for 10 days.
Cayman’s Governor Martyn Roper acknowledged that that the news was “disappointing”, but said he hoped the Cayman Islands could be moved from amber to green when the lists are reviewed in three weeks.
Britons will be allowed to resume international travel from 17 May, though only 12 countries or jurisdictions are included on the green list of places where quarantine-free travel is allowed.
The UK is adopting a ‘traffic light’ system of ‘green’, ‘amber’ and ‘red’ destinations. Green means Britons can go on holiday to those countries without having to quarantine upon their return; amber means no leisure travel is allowed to those destinations and a 10-day quarantine period in an accommodation of the traveller’s choice is required upon return; and red means only British or Irish citizens are allowed to enter the UK from those countries, and are required to self-isolate at a government-managed quarantine hotel for 10 days.
Among the Overseas Territories on the green list are Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and Saint Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha. The list also includes Australia, Brunei, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal and Singapore.
People travelling from these green list destinations to the UK will still be required to provide a negative PCR test taken within two days of arrival.
Travellers coming from ‘amber’ jurisdictions, like Cayman, will be required, prior to departure, to complete a passenger locator form, take a COVID-19 PCR test, and book and pay for two more COVID tests for day two and day eight after arrival. Upon arrival in the UK, they need to quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a televised announcement Friday afternoon that the ‘traffic light’ categories would be reviewed every three weeks.
He said the reason that more places are not included on the green list was because “the rest of the world needs to catch up with our fortunate vaccine programme”.
As of Thursday, 6 May, 62.2% of Cayman’s adult population had received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 31.8% of the UK’s adult population.
Cayman, as of 6 May, had seven active COVID cases, all among incoming travellers. The islands have not had a community transmission case of coronavirus since last year.
In a statement issued Friday, Roper said his office had fed data relating to Cayman’s COVID situation and vaccination rates to the UK’s Department of Transport and “that informed the central UK Government RAG [red, amber, green] rating decision”, adding, “Cayman, and indeed the whole of the Caribbean have been placed on the UK’s Amber list.”
The governor said Cayman not being included in the green list was “disappointing news to some”, but he added that the new classification system was the first iteration of the red, amber and green lists and they will be reviewed every three weeks.
“Given Cayman’s excellent response to the Covid-19 crisis I am hopeful that Cayman will move onto the green list at the review point. My office will remain in close contact with the UK as the list evolves,” he said.
Some of the most popular destinations for UK travellers were also left off the green list and included in the amber list, such as Spain, France, Italy and the United States – the top four most-visited countries by UK residents in 2019.
“Today marks the first step in our cautious return to international travel, with measures designed above all else to protect public health and ensure we don’t throw away the hard-fought gains we’ve all strived to earn this year,” Shapps said.
Britons have been banned from going abroad without an essential reason since early January.
British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said earlier this week that he hoped a number of Caribbean destinations would be included in the green list, thereby enabling the airline to expand on its currently limited flights to the region.
News agency Reuters reported that experts are warning that prices could shoot up for bookings to the dozen countries and jurisdictions on the green list, and Shapps said at Friday’s press briefing that airports could also see longer delays as passengers have to show negative test results.
To see the full list of green, amber and red countries, click here.