As the European tourism industry waits expectantly for Britain’s decision on international holiday travel this summer, Gibraltar is hoping to be one of the elite countries and territories immediately granted “green light” status.
Industry analysts quoted in the Telegraph newspaper said Gibraltar’s case was the strongest among eight destinations expected to be included on the UK’s green list for safe travel if the government lifts its ban on non-essential overseas travel.
The post-ban plan reportedly includes a traffic light system of green, amber and red. Fifty-two countries are said to have been analysed and ranked, based on a series of COVID-19 statistics including progress with vaccination programs, infection rates, the extent of variants, and capacity for genome sequencing.
A decision on whether or not to permit travel for foreign holidays is expected on 10 May, with a charter outlining measures to be followed by travellers published on 17 May. Currently, only seven countries in addition to the British overseas territory are expected to be given the green light: Australia, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Malta, New Zealand and the US. Travellers from these countries, and Gibraltar, would not be required to quarantine on arrival in the UK, although they would still need to take a pre-departure PCR test plus another one on or before the second day of their arrival in the UK.
People arriving from countries in the amber category – including, conceivably, Spain and most of the rest of Europe (at least initially) – would be required to self-isolate for 10 days, while those travelling from “red” countries would have to quarantine for the same period in hotels at their own cost (around £1,750).
Gibraltar Restrictions Eased
Earlier this month, Gibraltar’s government announced a further relaxation of COVID-19 measures, “as the result of the successful vaccination programme and latest infection rates”.
Regulations restricting gatherings have lapsed, and restaurants and catering establishments are now allowed to have live music and DJs. Masks are only required to be worn in retail shops, health services including private clinics, construction works, dwellings and offices, buses and taxis, funeral services and places of worship, but staff at restaurants, cafés and bars are required to wear a single mask until 1 May, when the measure will be reviewed.
Further relaxation measures allow for the gradual return of spectators and audiences to sporting and cultural events. Initially, this is 50 per cent capacity until 30 April, then 66 per cent up to 14 May, when, according to the government, “we should hopefully return to full capacity as long as the cases remain at very low levels”.
Announcing the new regulations, minister for health Samantha Sacramento said, “I am extremely pleased that the vaccination programme has allowed us to continue to ease restrictions. However, we need to remain alive to the situation around and note that things could change at a moment’s notice. We must therefore be prudent and not allow all the good work to go to waste, and we can do our own part by following public health advice in a post vaccination world.”
Gibraltar’s Office of Fair Trading has also launched a pre-summer campaign to enhance consumer awareness about “Travelling in the New Normal”, and to minimise disappointments with holiday plans in the post-Brexit era and in the light of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions around the world. The OFT’s full awareness document can be accessed here.