THE Government is expected to announce further countries to be added to the UKs 'green list' today - as speculation on certain destinations mounts. 

Ministers are tipped to be unveiling which new countries will be given green status meaning holidaymakers will not need to quarantine when they return.

It comes as the North-East last week saw jetsetters take to the skies on the region's first 'green list' flight to Portugal.

Meanwhile this week, holidaymakers desperate to get away were not deterred by amber-list restrictions as they flew from Teesside to Palma in Majorca.

Read more: Holidaymakers set off on FIRST Ryanair flight from Teesside in 10 years

But ahead of today's expected announcement, there is growing speculation that popular holiday destinations - Spanish and Green islands plus Malta could be added.

The Northern Echo:

Ryanair has started operating to amber list countries from Teesside Airport Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Robert Boyle, former director of strategy at British Airways’ parent company IAG, predicted that a number of summer hotspots will be added to the green tier.

He said: “It still seems very likely that whilst Spain and Greece will not make it onto the green list, many of their islands will, due to lower case rates and higher vaccinations than on the mainland.”

Mr Boyle added: “Malta, Finland and Slovakia are fairly safe bets, based on high testing rates and low reported cases.”

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said a number of popular holiday destinations “really deserve” to be moved to the low-risk tier.

He anticipates additions to the green list include the Greek islands of Zante, Rhodes and Kos, the Caribbean islands of Grenada and Antigua, plus Malta and Finland.

But he said he would be “surprised” if Spain’s Balearic Islands – including Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca – were added on Thursday.

“They’re hugely popular and I’m not sure the Government is ready to encourage so much travel at the moment."

Portugal is the only viable major tourist destination currently on the green list, but there have been early reports it could be downgraded to amber.

Since easing the rules on travel, the Government has been urging people to avoid non-essential travel to amber and red countries.

Travellers returning from amber list locations – which currently include popular hotspots such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece – must quarantine at home for 10 days and take two post-arrival tests.

More changes expected to red list countries

Several additions to the red list are also expected on Thursday.

Mr Boyle explained that Bahrain, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Kuwait “ought to be on the list” due to “very high infection rates”, whereas Mr Charles warned that Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia could be added as there are “signs of increased infection in many parts of Asia”.

People returning to the UK from a red country are required to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel, at a cost of £1,750 for solo travellers.

'We’ve got to take careful steps'

Assessments of travel lists are based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said the public should “exercise their common sense” about travelling abroad.

She said: “We all want to get back to normality, pre-pandemic normality - but I think (we) all understand we’ve got to take careful steps to do that.”

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the Government will have “no hesitation” over moving countries off the green list if necessary, and said it will “wait and see” what the recommendations of the Joint Biosecurity Centre are before announcing changes to the lists.

Mr Johnson has insisted there is “nothing in the data at the moment” to prevent ending domestic Covid restrictions on June 21, although he and his ministerial colleagues have urged caution.