Watch live as Grant Shapps announces green list countries
Travel firms are urging the government to expand the number of countries on its green list for quarantine-free travel. Just 12 destinations are on the list, including Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel, and not all of them are accepting international visitors.
Trade group Airlines UK said that the government must make “major additions” to the list, which comes into effect on 17 May, in coming weeks. Chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “This is a missed opportunity and, with so few countries making it on to the green list, represents a reopening of air travel in name only.”
EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren said that the lack of European destinations on the list is “not justified by the data or the science”, while British Airways boss Sean Doyle called the move “disappointing”. Transport secretary Grant Shapps said that the steps the government are taking to resume international travel are “necessarily cautious”.
Meanwhile, the outgoing chief of the UK’s vaccine task force has said that he doesn’t believe Covid-19 will be circulating the country in summer. Clive Dix told The Telegraph: “We’ll have probably protected the population from all the variants that are known. … We’ll be safe over the coming winter.”
Health experts praise cautious approach to resuming tourism
Another health expert has praised the government’s cautious approach to reopening the international travel sector.
Linda Bauld, professor of public health at Edinburgh University, told Times Radio: “We’ve had more cases of Covid-19 last week globally than we’ve had at any point of the pandemic.
“I know people are disappointed that they can’t go to France or Spain, but at the moment if I could point to one area that I’d be most anxious about it would be variants and importation of infection.
“I think that’s the territory we have to be most cautious and move most slowly.”
Joanna Taylor8 May 2021 10:47
Health expert welcomes government’s ‘sensible’ travel measures
Travel bosses expressed disappointment in the government’s cautious approach to resuming international tourism after just 12 nations were added to the green list.
But some health experts have backed the government’s “sensible” measures, warning that foreign variants have the potential to scupper the “good work” done to suppress the virus in the UK.
Virologist Dr Chris Smith told BBC Breakfast the measures that international travel is “an unknown bit of territory”, so it’s “important we take small steps and have measures in space to measure what we’re doing”.
He added: “A lot of good work has gone in to putting us in the strong position we’re in in this country, and we don’t want to potentially endanger … that good work by importing back to our country cases of coronavirus that could bypass the [vaccine] protection we’ve given our population by being a variant of some kind.”
Dr Smith also called for patience among those who have criticised the government’s approach, saying “we just have to sit tight for a little bit longer” while measures are in place.
Joanna Taylor8 May 2021 10:44
Bookings for trips to Portugal ‘surged’ after nation was added to green list
Bookings for trips to Portugal “surged” after the government announced that the nation will be on its green list for international travel from 17 May, a Thomas Cook representative said.
David Child, head of PR at the airline, said that bookings went “through the roof” after transport secretary Grant Shapps revealed the countries on the list.
“We took in the first hour from 5pm to 6pm as many Portugal bookings as we took in the whole month of April,” he said.
He added that despite the “surge”, the market is still down from where it would ordinarily be at this time of year.
Visitors to green list countries do not have to self-isolate or quarantine before travelling and will be subject to minimal testing.
Portugal is among the most popular summer holiday destinations for Brits on the list, which also includes Israel, Iceland and Gibraltar.
Not all of the twelve nations on the list have opened their borders to international travellers.
Joanna Taylor8 May 2021 10:27
“I’d much rather sit on a plane full of just-tested and likely vaccinated people than queue up in an unventilated shop with dozens of unchecked shoppers.”
Jade Bremner explains why she’s glad some international travel is resuming from 17 May.
Joanna Taylor8 May 2021 10:03
‘Pity’ that Italy is on UK’s amber list, tourism board says
The marketing director of the Italian Tourist Board has said that it’s a “pity” the country is on the UK’s amber list for international travel.
Maria Elena Rossi told BBC Breakfast that was “disappointed” by the announcement because the UK is a “very important source market”.
“Italy is developing several Covid-free zones, especially in islands, which is a policy that has been enforced in other countries,” she added.
Visitors to countries on the government’s amber list must self-isolate for 10 days and pay for two PCR tests before travelling after tourism begins to resume on 17 May.
Brits have been advised not to travel to amber destinations for leisure purposes.
Joanna Taylor8 May 2021 10:00
EasyJet Holidays chief believes travel green list will be expanded
EasyJet Holidays chief executive Garry Wilson has called the government’s travel green list “disappointing”, adding that he’s expecting more European destinations to be added to the list in future.
“We think [the list] was very cautious … and we don’t think it is backed up by the science or the data,” Mr Wilson told BBC Breakfast.
“So we’re really expecting to see very soon a lot of the other major European holiday destinations opening up.”
Mr Wilson added that he believes popular holiday spots like the Greek islands, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands meet scientific requirements for resuming tourism and that they should be on the green list.
Joanna Taylor8 May 2021 09:49
Vaccine chief predicts Covid-free summer in UK
Covid-19 will no longer be “circulating” in Britain by August, the outgoing head of the government’s vaccine task force has said.
“Sometime in August, we will have no circulating virus in the UK,” Clive Dix told The Telegraph, adding that the booster programme could be pushed back to next year.
He added that “we’ll have probably protected the population from all the variants that are known” by the end of of July and that everyone will have had at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
Dr Dix was appointed interim leader of the The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in December, and stepped down last week.
Joanna Taylor8 May 2021 09:31
British Airways boss calls travel rules ‘disappointing’
British Airways boss Sean Doyle has called the government’s new international travel rules “disappointing”.
He added: “We cannot stress more greatly that the UK urgently needs travel between it and other low-risk countries, like the US, to restart the economy, support devastated industries and reunite loved ones.”
Announcing the countries on England’s green, amber and red lists, transport secretary Grant Shapps said that the restrictions are “necessarily cautious”.
He added that the UK has “managed to construct a fortress against Covid”, but that it remains prevalent elsewhere and that the government must be “absolutely sure” that countries to which travel is allowed are safe.
Joanna Taylor8 May 2021 09:04
Airline firms urge government to expand travel green list
Industry body Airlines UK has said that the government must make “major additions” to the green list for international travel when the rules are reviewed in three weeks’ time.
Chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “This is a missed opportunity and, with so few countries making it on to the green list, represents a reopening of air travel in name only.
“By contrast, the EU has said vaccinated people will be able to travel without restrictions, which leaves the UK at risk of falling behind and not opening up international travel to key markets across Europe as well as the United States.”
Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, accused the government of taking “excess caution”.
“ [It’s] extremely disappointing for everyone who works in the travel sector and the millions of people who are desperate to jet away on holiday or business,” he said.
“Almost all tourist hotspots in Europe including Spain, France and Greece are in the amber category, which is as good as red as far as most tourists are concerned, with potential 10-day quarantine needed on return.
“Tourists are sat gazing at the amber light, revving their engines, desperate to travel safe in the knowledge that their jabs will protect them. The government must flick those amber lights to green as soon as it possibly can.”
Joanna Taylor8 May 2021 08:55
Holiday rules ‘not justified by science’, EasyJet boss says
Airline bosses have criticised the government’s green list for international travel, claiming that the list is too short and “not justified by science”.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “The decision to put so few European countries into the green tier is simply not justified by the data or the science and is inconsistent with the approach to reopen the domestic economy.
“So, we call on Government to provide transparency on decision-making and clarity on when we can expect other European countries to join the green list so that consumers and airlines alike can plan for this summer.”
Green list countries are destinations to which Brits are allowed to travel for leisure from 17 May without undergoing self-isolation or quarantine. There are 12 countries on the list, of which several aren’t yet accepting international visitors.
Joanna Taylor8 May 2021 08:22