Boris 'won't hesitate' to add more countries to amber and red list
Boris Johnson has dealt another blow to Brits hoping for foreign getaways this summer, as he confirmed the government will have ‘no hesitation’ in adding more countries to the red list.
The Prime Minister said the Government will move countries around the red, amber and green lists of travel restrictions ‘when necessary’.
That means travellers could face similar scrambles to get home as last summer, when the quarantine list was updated regularly, leaving some facing unexpected self-isolation at home as case numbers changed abroad. But this year, returning Brits face having to pay to stay in ‘quarantine hotels’ if the country they are in gets put on the red list.
Asked whether there may be more countries added to the green list soon, where there are no requirements to quarantine on returning to the UK, Mr Johnson said on Wednesday: ‘You’ve got to wait and see what the Joint Biosecurity Centre say and what the recommendations are about travel.
‘We’re going to try … to allow people to travel, as I know that many people want to, but we’ve got to be cautious and we’ve got to continue to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary.’
He continued: ‘I want you to know we will have no hesitation in moving countries from the green list to the amber list to the red list, if we have to do so.
‘The priority is to continue the vaccine rollout, to protect the people of this country.’
His comments come as several Greek islands, Malta and parts of the Caribbean, were tipped to be added to the green travel list on Thursday, according to an industry expert.
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.
Holidaymakers returning to the UK from green locations are not required to self-isolate, and only need to take one post-arrival coronavirus test.
Mr Charles told the PA news agency he expects additions to the list to include the Greek islands of Zante, Rhodes and Kos, the Caribbean islands of Grenada and Antigua, plus Malta and Finland.
The transition of those locations to green status would be ‘a boost’ to the struggling travel industry, he said.
‘We need to see the Government widening the number of green destinations to help the sector recover and to help protect jobs and livelihoods, which the Prime Minister promised.
‘It would be a boost to see those added. I still think we’re going to get the majority of European countries added at the end of June, but it would be an encouraging step forward.’
Assessments 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.
Portugal is the only viable major tourist destination currently on the green list.
Mr Charles said he would be ‘surprised’ if Spain’s Balearic Islands – including Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca – are added in Thursday’s update.
He also warned that Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia could be added to the red list, which means people returning to the UK are required to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel.
Travellers returning to the UK from an amber list location – which includes popular hotspots such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece – must quarantine at home for 10 days and take two post-arrival tests.
The Government has urged people against non-essential travel to amber countries.
The PM said the Government will ‘wait and see’ what the recommendations of the Joint Biosecurity Centre are before announcing changes to the travel lists.
The Government has faced widespread criticism for its border policy, which has the allowed the Indian variant – which has now become dominant and is being blamed for rising case numbers – into the country.
Meanwhile, Labour is calling for the amber list to be scrapped.
As he expressed concerns about more travellers arriving in the UK Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said on Wednesday: ‘Ministers need to scrap the “Amber List” urgently, to limit travellers reaching the UK and ensure that Border Force have the resources they need to manage arrivals from the “Green List” safely.’
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