COVID-19: Is it OK to book a holiday to an amber list country?
Mixed messages from the government has led to confusion over whether it is safe or appropriate for people to travel abroad to an amber list country for a holiday.
As part of the easing of coronavirus restrictions, international leisure travel resumed in England on Monday – and foreign countries have been given a red, amber or green grading for travel based on their COVID situation.
So why has there been confusion?
In a briefing with reporters, the prime minister’s official spokesman said leisure travel should still be restricted to the limited number of countries deemed safe by ministers, such as Portugal, which feature on the quarantine-free “green list”.
But environment secretary George Eustice then told broadcasters people could go to amber-listed countries such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece as long as they observed quarantine rules on their return.
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart told Times Radio the public should ask themselves whether a trip to a country on the amber list was “essential” before conceding that “some people might think a holiday is essential”.
Then health minister Lord Bethell told peers he considered all foreign travel to be “dangerous” and urged Britons to holiday at home this summer.
Skills minister Gillian Keegan told Sky News that amber list countries are “not somewhere where you should be going on holiday” and it was a “time for cautious personal responsibility” and to “be sensible”.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps echoed that advice when he said “you should not be travelling to these places right now”.
Health secretary Matt Hancock told Times Radio people should not travel to places on the amber or red lists “unless it’s absolutely necessary, and certainly not for holiday purposes”.
And to further add to the confusion, advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on places where not to travel is failing to include some European holiday hotspots, such as Crete and the Canary Islands.
What has the prime minister said?
“I think it’s very important for people to grasp what an amber list country is: it is not somewhere where you should be going on holiday, let me be very clear about that,” Boris Johnson said.
“Please bear in mind that you will have to self-isolate, you’ll have to take tests and do your passenger locator form and all the rest of it.”
What advice is being given by the FCDO?
It continues to advise “against all non-essential international travel to some countries and territories”.
The FCDO also says to “prevent new COVID variants from entering the UK, you should not travel to amber or red list countries”.
However, there are loopholes and discrepancies in the FCDO advice which are being exploited by holidaymakers and the booking companies.
For example, FCDO’s specific advice for amber-listed Greece “advises against all but essential travel, except for the islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu and Crete”.
FCDO advice surrounding another popular destination is also causing confusion when it again advises “against all but essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic Islands but excluding the Canary Islands”.
Is travel insurance coverage available for amber list destinations?
It will not be possible to get holiday insurance for amber list destinations which the FCDO advises against travelling to.
And if you book a green list destination and that country is moved to amber, the insurance will no longer be valid.
Some providers will refund the costs, but some might not.
It means insurance to amber list countries would be invalid – and the changing situation in other nations could lead to customers seeing their coverage go the same way.
But the discrepancies in the FCDO advice is leaving open some holiday destinations – and making valid insurance possible.
What are the travel companies saying?
Millions of British holidaymakers have reportedly already booked to travel to amber list countries this summer.
Europe’s biggest package holiday company, TUI, has already published information which shows it has more than 2.5 million forward bookings.
In a statement, the firm said: “We want to offer our customers flexibility and choice this summer, so where borders are open and FCDO advice allows travel, we will operate to those destinations.
“We know some customers may be unsure about travelling this summer, so we’ve offered free changes 14 days before travel for anyone due to travel before the end of August.”
The UK’s largest independent travel agent, Hays Travel, is advertising holidays to amber list countries such as Greece on its website.
In a statement, the holiday firm said: “Hays Travel always follows government advice and we will only book holidays for our customers to destinations that are allowed according to the FCDO published guidance.
“There are some amber destinations that are allowed and in these cases we are ensuring our customers are fully informed with the best and most up to date advice so that they are aware of any requirements or restrictions from FCDO and the destination country.
“Flights or holidays to countries that are not allowed currently may appear on our website however they cannot be booked either online or by phone for dates where restrictions are in place.”
What has the EU said about UK holidaymakers?
Ambassadors have backed plans to allow vaccinated British holidaymakers to visit the bloc this summer.
They recommended that rules should be changed to allow non-essential visits into the EU by people who have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, a spokeswoman for the Portuguese presidency of the EU Council said.
The policy will need to be signed off by ministers of member states.
People in England are able to use an NHS app to display proof of their vaccination status.
Source: Read Full Article