Travel: Richard Madeley questions the 'point' of list system
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Ministers are unlikely to increase the number of destinations Brits can travel to without quarantine as they look to try and prevent an influx of Covid cases from abroad. Instead, the number of countries added to the red list of banned travel locations is set to increase.
The Government is poised to set out its first review of travel restrictions later today after committing to re-assessing data every three weeks.
Up until May 17 travel was illegal under coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
The decision on whether to add or remove countries on lists in the green, amber, red travel system is taken following guidance from bio-security experts.
Aviation industry leaders and tourism businesses had been hoping to see the green list expand beyond the 12 countries it currently contains when the announcement is made later today.
But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is understood to be set to deliver a heavy blow to expectations by refusing to add more holiday destinations to the list, according to The Sun.
An increase in cases or the emergence of a worrying coronavirus mutation will see stricter travel measures placed upon a country.
There are currently 43 countries subject to the UK’s strictest measures, with those travelling to Britain from red list countries required to pay to quarantine for 10 days in specialised isolation hotels.
Boris Johnson first hinted at the move yesterday afternoon when he appeared to indicate there was more chance of countries being removed from the list than added to it.
He said: “We are going to try and allow people to travel as I know many people want to, but we’ve got to be cautious.
“We’ve got to continue to put countries on the red list, on the amber list, when that is necessary.
“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.”
Portugal is currently the only popular European destination where Britons can go without needing to quarantine on their return, although it is believed there are discussions underway about removing the country from the green list later today and place it on the amber tier.
While travel to and from amber countries is legally allowed, ministers have warned Brits against using the destinations for holidays.
Those returning from amber list countries are required to isolate at home for 10 days upon return.
There were reports earlier today of a new Cover variant first thought to have originated in Nepal and spread to parts of Europe which could impact thinking on Portugal’s travel status.
However, the World Health Organisation said it is “not aware” of a new variant being detected in the Himalayan nation.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning refused to be drawn on what would be announced this afternoon but said the Government was focused on reducing cases of coronavirus.
He said: “We have got to follow the data and of course, I understand why people want to travel but we’ve got to make sure we keep this country safe, especially because the vaccine programme is going so well.
“We have seen hospitalisations and deaths come right down and we have to got to protect the progress we have made here at home, whilst allowing for travel where it is safe.
“You have got to follow the data.”
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