Tourists shouldn’t pin their hopes on a host of additional countries that will be added to the quarantine-free green list when it is updated later this month, government sources warned.
With ministers monitoring data daily on the spread of the Delta variant, after the fourth stage of the reopening roadmap was postponed for a month to July 19, Whitehall experts say the mood remains. extremely cautious.
Cases of the Delta variant are increasing rapidly in the UK, with 11,007 new infections reported on Thursday, the highest number since February 19.
Portugal was the only mainstream European vacation destination on the original green list, then removed on June 3 when the Delta variant was rolled out.
The government has promised to update the list again before June 28, with details likely to be announced next week so travelers and vacation companies have time to adjust their plans.
“My feeling is that we will continue to be very cautious when thinking about how to take measures that could increase transmission,” said a government source.
Another said the decision would be made by No. 10, not the Department of Transportation, and that it would be based solely on public health considerations. Boris Johnson has described the July 19 date as a “term” and is willing to avoid taking any action that may risk further delay.
It came as Ireland’s medical director advised the public against nonessential travel to the UK amid concerns about the Delta variant. Dr Tony Holohan said no formal decision has been made on advice on travel to Northern Ireland from the Republic, but said they are “concerned” about the situation across the border.
Meanwhile, Downing Street has confirmed that ministers are examining the idea that doubly vaccinated people could be allowed to return from amber list countries without quarantining themselves, although any changes are unlikely to take effect in the future. next.
The prime minister’s official spokesman insisted that “no decisions have been made.”
“We want people to be able to travel abroad as soon as it is safe to do so. We have currently established a traffic light system for international travel. We are always learning more about the virus and its variants. At this stage of the pandemic, our current approach is correct, but we keep our measures under review, and that was clearly stated in both the roadmap and the report of the global travel task force, ”he said.
The government’s four-step roadmap for reopening, released in February, said the vaccines “could offer a route” for the “safe and sustainable return” of foreign travel.
“Once more is known about the evidence of vaccines in transmission and their efficacy against new variants, the government may seek to introduce a system that allows vaccinated people to travel more freely internationally,” the roadmap said.
The NHS app has been updated to include the user’s vaccine status so that British travelers can show they are protected against the virus.
Currently, travel to Amber List countries is strongly discouraged, apart from exceptional circumstances. Travelers returning from red-list countries must self-quarantine in a hotel.
Johnson has been repeatedly criticized by Labor for what they say are his lax border policies. Keir Starmer argued in the Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday that the rapid rise of the Delta variant in the UK could be attributed to the fact that Johnson failed to add India to the red list, from which travel is effectively banned, earlier. of April.
“The British people did their bit by following the rules and getting vaccinated, but the prime minister wasted it by letting a new variant enter the country. That was not inevitable. It was the consequences of his indecision, ”he said.
Johnson insisted that the UK has “the toughest border measures in the world,” a statement that is difficult to square with the fact that some countries, including Australia and New Zealand, prohibit almost all overseas arrivals.