Britons should “apply common sense” over whether or not they choose to fly to amber list countries, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says.
Since the ban on foreign holidays was lifted on Monday as part of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, people have been able to enjoy quarantine-free travel to a dozen destinations on the government’s green list.
But there has been confusion over countries on the amber list, destinations that require an isolation period at home after returning.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that “you should not be going to an amber list country on holiday”, saying travel to those nations should only for circumstances like visiting a sick relative or going to the funeral.
However there is no ban on travel to amber list countries – merely government advice against it.
Asked about the confusion over this, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News that the matter is down to personal responsibility.
“We’ve moved away from a situation where everything is ‘it’s banned it’s illegal’, I know we’ve got very used to this in the last year…
“We’re moving away from that and asking people to apply a bit of common sense.”
Last night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended the government’s moves to open up international travel via a traffic light system during Wednesday’s Downing Street press conference.
He said the messaging had been “crystal clear” that the public “should not go to an amber or red list country on holiday” and that any visits could only be in “exceptional circumstances”.
Travellers arriving from amber list countries are required to self-isolate for 10 days and take two tests, with Mr Hancock adding that 30,000 home visits had been carried out in the last week to check people were quarantining.
Reinforcing what he said he outlined at a Downing Street news conference two weeks ago, Mr Shapps said his messaging had been “consistent”.
He said: “If it’s an amber or red country, please don’t travel for holidays. It’s for exceptional circumstances. And red is only for essentially British citizens returning.
“So I can be completely consistent and say the same thing today… We are saying to people… there’s a heck of a lot of hassle involved in, for example, an amber country. You’ve got to take a pre departure test. You then have to take two further tests when you come home. Yet another one on top of that, if you want to have tests to release after five days.
“You’ve got to quarantine. People will come to your house to check your quarantine. It’s expensive. We’re not at the stage of saying to people, go to those places on holiday. Please don’t. Green lists are for holidays. And a little bit of patience as the world catches up with our vaccine programme, we’ll get more of those countries opened up as green countries.”