Why is Turkey still on the red list? What stopped it from turning orange and if that will change in the next travel update


Vacationers hoping to return to Bodrum’s bars or the endless beaches of Antalya will have to wait a little longer, after Wednesday’s travel review left Turkey stranded on the red list.

Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps made no mention of the vacation favorite during his tri-weekly traffic light review, which moved just 10 destinations into new categories of green, amber or red based on the severity of the risk of Covid.

With relatively low Covid rates in Turkey, no new variants of concern, and high testing rates, there has been some confusion over why UK holidaymakers are still banned from visiting.

Hub issues

The answer seems to lie in the nation’s status as a global transportation hub.

Before the pandemic, Turkish airlines flew to more destinations than any other airline in the world, connecting everywhere from LA in the west to Tokyo in the east. While its main base, Istanbul Airport continued to operate a large number of flights during the pandemic, becoming the busiest airport in Europe in 2020.

Turkey, along with Dubai, were initially redlisted in May over fears that, as travel hubs, the two destinations could spread the emerging Delta variant.

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Although the Delta variant now accounts for over 95% of Covid infections in the UK, the government appears to be cautious about opening up to Turkey due to its excellent transport links with passengers around the world.

Robert Boyle, former chief strategy officer of British Airways, who claims to have deciphered the algorithm the government uses to make decisions about traffic lights, successfully predicted that Turkey would remain on the red list despite the fact that it did not technically belong to it.

The country’s position as a transport hub could affect its status for travel from the UK (Photo: Getty)

Waiting for the next checkpoint

He grouped Turkey together with 10 other countries, including Qatar, Sri Lanka and Kenya, which he said could only have been left on the red list because of the high rates of the Delta variant.

Robert believes Turkey’s best bet for escaping the Red List is the government’s next “checkpoint” to examine how the current system for managing international travel is working, which the government has pledged to meet at the latest. July 31.

The review must take into account everything from the state of the vaccine rollout in the UK to the effect of the restrictions on the travel industry.

If the Delta variant rate is still used as an important metric in government equations, this could be the time it is removed.

This would then pave the way for Turkey to move to the Amber List during the next traffic light review scheduled for Thursday, August 5.

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