Heathrow and Birmingham airports to allow direct flights from banned 'red list' countries in trial from next week

TWO UK airports are to allow direct flights from banned 'red list' countries from next week as part of a limited trial.

The Government today announced anyone landing at Heathrow or Birmingham from one of the 'banned' destinations will be able to travel to straight to England from June 8.

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It means travellers arriving from places such as India and South Africa will avoid the need to travel via an amber or green list country, providing they land at a dedicated terminal.

The red list locations were previously subject to complete flight bans.

Other countries holidaymakers will be able to arrive directly from include Turkey, Costa Rica and Sri Lanka.

However, people will still be required to quarantine in a specialist hotel on arrival.

A mandatory 10-day stay costs £1,750, and passengers face fines of £5,000 if they leave before their time is up.

The price includes the cost of the hotel, transport from the airport and Covid testing.

There is a discount if a second person is sharing the room, with them only needing to pay £650. The rate for children is £325.

It was also announced today that Portugal is to be taken off the green list over fears surrounding the Nepal mutation of the Indian variant.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps this afternoon sent thousands of travel plans up in smoke by advising Brits NOT to go to the popular destination – and making returning passengers self-isolate from 4am next Tuesday.

Confirming the "difficult but decisive decision" – first revealed by The Sun – Mr Shapps warned 68 cases of the Indian "Delta" Variant had been identified in Portugal.

They include cases of the emerging Nepal mutation – and the minister said it was currently unclear if vaccines were effective against the strain.

Mr Shapps said: "We just don't know the potential for that to be a vaccine-defeating mutation and simply don't want to take the risk as we come up to June 21 and the review of the fourth stage of the unlock."

It comes as

  • No new countries were added to the green list
  • Seven countries including Egypt, Afghanistan and Costa Rica were added to the red list
  • Brits scrambled to refund their flights to Portugal
  • Families head to Greece despite the Government's amber warning – as one Brit mum says ‘my kids deserve a holiday’
  • Heathrow finally opens a separate red list terminal after weeks of India arrivals mixing with others in long border queues
  • Holidaymakers will be hit with soaring prices if green list additions are 'kept secret', says an airport boss
  • Brits are now banned from entering France unless they have ‘compelling’ reason to stop spread of Indian variant

Whitehall sources said Public Health England were also scrambling to assess if the emerging strain is more infectious.

Other changes to the travel guidance were made, including whacking Egypt and Sri Lanka on the red list in another blow for Brits hoping for a summer getaway.

The Sun revealed this morning that no more countries are being added to the green list in a further gut punch for Brits aching for a post-pandemic holiday.

The changes come into force from 8 June.

Britain finally opened up its international travel again from May 17, and the green list is set to be updated at least every three weeks.

The Department for Transport has previously warned that Brits should be wary that countries can be taken off the green list with little notice – which could spark holiday chaos over the summer months.

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