UK green list? Tenerife Level 2? How important is the next 48 hours for recovery
The next 48 hours could be the biggest turning point for the Canary Islands on the road to recovery during the pandemic, as there is due to be an update of the UK travel lists either today or tomorrow, and the Governing Council will have their regular meeting tomorrow (Thursday) when they will once again make any changes in the alert levels of the islands dependent on their epidemiological situation.
Last Thursday Gran Canaria was moved to alert Level 2 due to the decrease in the island's data which confused a lot of people as Tenerife’s data was more favourable. However, Tenerife was only reduced to Level 3 the week before, and the Public Health Committee insists that an island must stay at a level for two weeks to see the evolution of the 14-day indicators.
Eight parameters are monitored by the Ministry of Health to dictate which alert level an island should be in, which are:
- 7-day incidence rate in the general population
- 7-day incidence rate in the over 65s
- 14-day incidence rate in the general population
- 14-day incidence rate in the over 65s
- Occupancy of hospital beds by Covid patients
- Occupancy of ICU beds by Covid patients
- Positivity rate of PCR tests
- The R rate: Effective Reproduction Number
Currently, Tenerife’s and Fuerteventura’s data is within the bands required for Level 2, although as Tenerife continues with a downward trend, Fuerteventura has had an increase in four of the parameters, so it is fully expected that Tenerife will move to Level 2 and Fuerteventura will stay at Level 3 for another week, and the rest of the islands will stay in their current levels.
With the recent clarification of the alert levels, any changes are positive for business owners and holidaymakers when an islands alert level is reduced, as a move to Level means 8 people can meet or sit together in bars and restaurants, hospitality venues can use 75% of terraces and 50% indoors, and the can close at 2am. Obviously there are many other benefits for gyms, sports, excursions etc, but these are the main ones that tourists want to know.
UK TRAVEL REVIEW:
As is common knowledge the UK Government reviews their travel lists or traffic lights every three weeks, and as the last review was on August 26th, the next one is due tomorrow at 5pm, however the last two have happened the day before on the Wednesday, so we could find out any changes today.
The Government uses a range of factors to decide how to classify each country, including infections rates, whether there are any variants of concern there, the number of people who have been vaccinated, and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
Taking these into account, the Canary Islands meet the criteria to move on to the green list for travel, if they continue to review the islands separately to the mainland of Spain. The Canaries actually met the criteria at the first two reviews before the fifth wave of the virus, but at that time the UK didn’t separate the islands, not just of Spain but all territories, so we governed by Spain’s data not our own.
When this ruling changed for the third review, the Canary Islands data was unfavourable, however the Balearic Island did go green, which at least shows they do review the islands separately and will move them to a different list than the mainland.
Taking this into account, it is extremely viable that the Canary Islands will move on to the UK green list of travel in the next 24 or 48 hours. Many people will say that it doesn’t make a difference because of UK requirements when people return home, but there are two advantages. One is the confidence that people have in the destination, and the other is how the islands are positioned when the traffic light system in the UK is overhauled.
Confidence is everything as many people are tentative about booking or travelling, ‘just in case’ the destination goes on the red list. Being green gives that confidence to travel, especially for those who are fully vaccinated as it is safer, easier, and cheaper, plus they know that they are less likely to have to change their booking, cancel it, or ‘rush’ home if data does go the wrong way.
TRAVEL LIST OVERHAUL:
Many UK politicians and travel industry experts believe that this is going to be the last review under the current traffic light format, as under the UKs de-escalation plan the system is due for an overhaul on October 1st.
At the moment there are very few details of changes are available, but the traffic light system is expected to be replaced by simple go or don't go lists, with those on the latter being significantly reduced.
Also, the need for PCR tests could also be ditched for those who are fully vaccinated, and the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, all but confirmed this yesterday, saying that PCR tests for double-jabbed travellers will be scrapped in favour of cheaper lateral flow tests.
He told the Commons that changes to the rules for international travel will be announced by the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, "as soon as he is ready", because less than 1.5% of arrivals from amber and red list countries tested positive for COVID between August 26th and September 1st according to NHS figures.
All this points to an important couple of days for the Canary Islands, and we will bring you all we know as soon as we know it. In the meantime, fingers crossed for two positive announcements and a return to normality.