People from England can travel to Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel from 17 May without having to self-isolate on their return, the British government has announced.

They are the only popular summer short-haul destinations out of 12 countries and territories on the British government's new green list for travel.

Other countries include Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and Iceland as well as the Faroe Islands, Falkland Islands, Ascension Islands, Tristan da Cunha and St Helena, along with South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the travel list was not created based on where people "want to lie on beaches".

He told a Downing Street press conference: "This is not a list generated and created to think about where people want to lie on beaches and then twist the science to fit it. That would be completely wrong."

Meanwhile Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal have been added to the UK's red list. People returning from those countries after 4am on Wednesday will be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £1,750 (€2,105) for solo travellers.

Mr Shapps said that travel to red list countries was not allowed except for in "the most extreme circumstances" and anyone returning from a red list country has to enter and pay for compulsory hotel quarantine.

The status of the Champions League final on 29 May between Manchester City and Chelsea in Istanbul has now been thrown into doubt.

"It does mean that fans should not travel to Turkey," said Mr Shapps, who raised the possibility of the match being moved to England.

"The FA (Football Association) are in discussions with UEFA. We are open to hosting but it is ultimately a decision for UEFA," he added.


Read more: Latest coronavirus stories


Mr Shapps said travellers should not book holidays that do not include a refund policy if that country's Covid situation changes.

He added: "Green list countries will be placed on a watch list.

"If we start to have any concerns, and if it is necessary because of a new upswing in cases or a new variant, we will not hesitate to act fast and withdraw green status."

"Our strong advice is not to book any holiday which does not include a refund in the event that the Covid-related situation changes and you're able to cancel," he said.

"I'm afraid we do expect longer delays at airports."

Border Force director general Paul Lincoln warned that wait times to enter the UK were likely to take longer than usual as the country switches to a traffic light system for international travel.

He told the press conference: "Unfortunately we are not back to normality yet."

Mr Shapps said the Joint Bio Security Centre would review Covid data on other countries every three weeks.

He said foreign travel rules are expected to be "broadly similar in design" across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The minister said he had spoken with the devolved administrations and that England's traffic light system had been created with their agreement.

He said: "All of the four chief medical officers of the Joint Bio Security Centre have met and agreed the principles that sit behind the traffic light system, so there is a large degree of agreement and co-operation in developing the system."

He said he expected other UK nations' rules will be "broadly similar in design".

EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren has called on the British government to provide "clarity" about which countries could be added to its green travel list.

Mr Lundgren said in a statement: "The decision to put so few European countries into the green tier is simply not justified by the data or the science and is inconsistent with the approach to reopen the domestic economy."

He added: "So, we call on Government to provide transparency on decision-making and clarity on when we can expect other European countries to join the green list so that consumers and airlines alike can plan for this summer.

"In the meantime, they must drive down the cost of testing and review, and remove testing for green, low-risk countries. Green really should mean green."

British pilots' union Balpa accused the government of an "excess of caution" over its handling of the planned return of foreign holidays.

General secretary Brian Strutton said: "Almost all tourist hotspots in Europe including Spain, France and Greece are in the amber category, which is as good as red as far as most tourists are concerns, with potential 10-day quarantine needed on return."