Holiday travel rules explained as ministers set to announce changes to restrictions this week
BRITS are facing fresh uncertainty over holiday plans amid new changes to travel restrictions this week.
Senior ministers and officials are set to conclude their findings on countries such as France and Spain, which could have huge implications to the traffic light system.Brits are set to find out where they can travel to this month[/caption] Grant Schapp will reveal the new travel restrictions in an announcement on Thursday[/caption]
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to announce which countries are safe to visit on Thursday – and which could face tougher quarantine rules.
Any changes would be likely to come into force on Monday, August 9.
Currently speculation is mounting that France could be moved from the amber-plus category, which could be axed altogether.
However, there are fears that Spain – along with other popular destinations such as Italy – could be switched to a new “amber watch list” or even go on the red list.
And if the country suddenly moves to a red list, travellers would face compulsory hotel quarantine on their return, at a cost of £1,750 a head.
The quarantine chaos is said to have left ministers embroiled in arguments over the past few weeks as Chancellor Rishi Sunak reportedly told Boris Johnson that the UK’s current border restrictions were “out of step with our international competitors”.
He warned that the curbs were having a damaging effect on jobs, amid mounting fears for the tourism and hospitality industries.
A source told the Sunday Times said: “Rishi has called time on the travel restrictions.”
But, senior ministers have given few hints to the outcome of the crunch talks as families gear up for the summer holiday season this month.
In a welcome move to free up travel from overseas, the government announced that double jabbed travellers from the US and EU will be allowed to enter England without the need for quarantine from 4am on Monday.
It means that expats who were vaccinated abroad will now be able to avoid isolation.
Arrivals will need to prove their jab has been approved by EU or US regulators to prevent lower quality vaccines impacting on the UK’s battle against the virus.
However, those who have received jabs like Chinese Sinopharm and the Russian Sputnik vaccine will not be allowed as they are not approved by the European Medicines Agency.Quarantine is set to be removed for most double jabbed EU and US arrivals[/caption]
Europeans will be asked to show their EU Digital Covid Certificate, while American arrivals will need show the US CDC card.
Arrivals will still need to do a pre-departure Covid test and take a PCR test on the second day of their stay in England.
Furthermore, travellers from France continue to be excluded due to the fears over cases of the Beta variant.
Double jabbed Brits – and under 18s – have been allowed to avoid self-isolation on return from amber list countries since July 19.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announcement on Thursday is expected to give an update on which countries can be added to the green list – and which ones may be removed.
The announcement, which comes as part of the regular three week reviews of the system, will be closely watched by Brits eager to jet off for their summer breaks.
Various reports suggest that about a dozen nations could be added to the green list for quarantine-free travel for all.
There are growing hopes that Germany and Italy could be among the countries which may be deemed safe for travel without passengers having to self-isolate on their return.
Analyst Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, predicted that potential additions could also include Bosnia, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia and Slovenia.
However, Government insiders have stressed it is too early to say which countries could move.But uncertainty remains about the fate of countries such as Spain – who could be set for tougher measures[/caption]
Meanwhile, the UK could be set to resolve a diplomatic row with Paris that was sparked last month when ministers unexpectedly moved France into a new “amber plus” category.
The move meant France was excluded from the quarantine exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers – so holidaymakers have to isolate even if they are double jabbed.
It resulted in a furious backlash from France and our own MPs who called it discriminatory and “scientifically unfounded”.
The Sun understands that the extra category for France is set for the axe within days — if Beta variant cases continue to fall there.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted on Friday that the concerns over the Beta variant were based on cases in mainland France, not the tiny department of Reunion island in the Indian Ocean.
He said it was right to continue with a “cautious” approach.
Mr Shapps added: “The Beta variant, it’s not just — as has been reported — on an island thousands of miles away.
“It was also an issue in particular in northern France, so it has been an overall concern.
“And, look, the big concern is that we don’t allow a variant in which somehow is able to escape the vaccine programme that we have got.”It comes as Rishi Sunak has reportedly ‘called time on the travel restrictions’[/caption]
Data expert Tim White said “very high infection rates” mean ministers could create a new “amber watchlist” for countries that could move to red.
Mainland Spain, the Balearics and the Canary Islands are currently on the amber list, which means that vaccinated travellers can avoid quarantining.
But if it is shifted onto the amber plus list like France, all travellers will have to isolate regardless of vaccination status.
Another measure being considered is the creation of a new “amber watchlist” which could replace the amber plus category.
Any destination flagged on the watchlist could move from amber to red with short notice, meaning families abroad could be forced to undergo hotel quarantine on their return to England, at a cost of £1,750 a head.
One Whitehall source said: “You would have to be crackers to book a holiday to a place knowing that it could go on to the red list at any moment.
“If you have already booked to go there you are going to spend your whole holiday worrying whether you are going to have to make a dash to the airport to get home.
“The decision next week will basically be in place for August. It is peak holiday season – are we really going to cause that much disruption to this many people?”
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Another source told the Mail that the Treasury had warned ministers to “stop messing about with travel.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab refused to rule out the creation of a new watchlist when pressed on the issue in recent days.
There is already a green watchlist, which flags destinations that could move up to amber if the Covid situation becomes more concerning.
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