Travellers’ hopes of a European summer getaway will be boosted with the expected addition of Malta and the Balearic islands to England’s travel green list.
The move, likely to be announced by transport secretary Grant Shapps on Thursday, is conditional on ministers signing it off at a Covid operations committee meeting.
But a senior government source said it was highly likely – provided there was no last-minute alarming data.
A handful of African countries are also expected to be put on the red list, from where travel is banned from for all but British residents and nationals.
Malta was tipped to be added to the green list – meaning travellers could avoid quarantine – three weeks ago, but its status remained unchanged, while Portugal was downgraded to the amber list.
Currently, those arriving from amber-list countries must quarantine for 10 days – or six if they use the test-to-release system. The need to isolate will be dropped for those who are fully inoculated against Covid, but the Guardian has been told that some ministers are understood to be nervous about introducing the change too quickly.
They want to push back the relaxation from July until August, worried that if too many people try to bring forward their second coronavirus vaccine, this could threaten supplies when the government is racing to offer all UK adults their first jab by 19 July.
The Guardian also understands that the government will try to align the traffic-light system with the Foreign Office’s separate travel advice, which takes account of risks other than Covid. Whitehall insiders admit the advice has caused confusion for those looking to go abroad.
Steve Baker, a Tory MP and the deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group, said: “If Boris Johnson doesn’t let us take personal and collective responsibility by trusting the vaccines imminently, we face a hollow and haunted society without much that makes life worth living, like travel and tourism.”