Holidays abroad will be permitted in just over two weeks, it was claimed tonight – but tourists to most parts of the world will have to quarantine when they return.
A government insider said that Downing Street will announce this week that international breaks are permitted from May 17.
Non-essential travel is currently banned under Covid laws brought in to stop the spread of the virus.
A traffic light system is set to be introduced when holidays abroad are allowed again – with a “tiny handful” of countries on the green list – meaning people do not have to isolate when they get back.
Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel and Malta are expected to be included, while the United States could also be classed as green.
Those classified as amber will require holidaymakers to isolate at home on their return, while people entering the country from red list countries will be forced to isolate in a hotel.
If the lifting of restrictions is signed off, it will be a first step towards reopening the UK’s travel industry, which has been savaged by the pandemic.
A government source told the Daily Telegraph that ministers are confident they can “keep tight controls in place at the border while taking a significant step forward on international travel”.
Even people who have been vaccinated will be required to take a PCR Covid test when they return, the Telegraph reports.
Tonight a Department for Health (DfT) spokeswoman told The Mirror no decisions have been made yet, with an announcement due in “early May”.
A review will be held a month after restrictions are listed – by which time a lot of Europe could be classified as green ahead of the busy summer holiday period.
Greece, France, Spain and Portugal are among the countries which have said they will allow vaccinated Brits to visit without being tested following a sharp fall in infections.
Up to this point, people have been encouraged not to book foreign holidays this summer – but this is expected to change.
The Telegraph says news that non-essential travel is once again allowed could be announced this week by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
People travelling to the UK from any part of the world will be required to provide a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure.
Those coming from green list countries will have to pay for a PCR test within two days of arriving but will not have to quarantine.
Anyone travelling from amber countries will have to stay at home for 10 days, and do two PCR tests in this time.
Those coming in from red countries will be forced to stay in hotels approved by the government at their own expense for 10 days – at a cost of around £1,7000.
A source told the Telegraph: “This is going to be slow and gradual rather than starting with lots of countries on the list.”
They continued: “Obviously we want to support the aviation sector but it needs to be done in a safe way that is sustainable.”