The travel industry has voiced it’s frustration and disappointment
The travel industry has voiced frustration and disappointment after the latest limited easing of coronavirus restrictions on foreign holidays.
The Government has added 14 new countries and territories to its green list of destinations from which travellers do not have to self-isolate on their return.
However, all but one – Malta – were also put on a watchlist, which means they are at risk of returning to the amber list.
While some popular hotspots – including Spain’s Balearic islands and a number of Caribbean destinations – are on the list, France, Greece, Italy and mainland Spain remain off limits to UK holidaymakers.
To add to the uncertainty, there were fears of potential new EU-wide restrictions on travellers from the UK over concerns about the spread of the Delta variant just as cases on the continent are coming down.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been pressing EU leaders meeting in Brussels to impose stringent quarantine requirements of arrivals to the bloc from Britain, and told the German parliament on Wednesday: “We have not yet managed to ensure that all 27 Member States have the same entry requirements for people arriving from virus variant areas, in this case Great Britain, but in other countries also.
“With us you have to be in quarantine when you come from the UK. This is by no means the case in every European country. But I would like that.”
After the first day of the European Council meeting, leaders welcomed “good progress” on vaccination adding the council was “stressing the need to continue vaccination efforts and to be vigilant and coordinated with regard to developments, particularly the emergence and spread of variants”.
Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps held out the prospect that people visiting amber list countries who had received two doses of the vaccine would not need to self-isolate on return, with an announcement due next month.
But across the beleaguered travel sector there was concern that it would all be too late to rescue the summer season.
The Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said the Government’s “overly cautious” approach would continue to have “major financial impacts” on the sector.
“Any extension of the green list is welcome, however small, but we also have to be realistic: this is not yet the meaningful restart the aviation industry needs to be able to recover from the pandemic,” she said.
CBI chief UK policy director Matthew Fell said: “While welcome, these limited movements on green list countries won’t be enough to salvage the summer season for the international travel sector.
“International connectivity extends far beyond tourism and underpins our whole economy. The UK’s successful vaccine rollout means we should be in the vanguard of safely restarting international travel.”
The holiday company On the Beach said it would not be taking new bookings for July and August while so much uncertainty remained about countries on the watchlist.
Chief executive Simon Cooper said: “Booking a holiday to these destinations is not a guarantee that you won’t have to self-isolate when you return home.
“While this uncertainty continues, we will continue to not sell holidays for July and August until we have greater confidence these holidays will go ahead with minimal disruptions.”
However, Thomas Cook chief executive Alan French was more upbeat saying he expected a “bumper weekend” of bookings.
He said the announcement was “fantastic news for our customers who are desperate for a holiday and have been waiting with bated breath for this latest update”.
Mr Shapps rejected accusations the Government was being too timid, saying that protecting public health remained its top priority.
“It’s right that we continue with this cautious approach, to protect public health and the vaccine rollout as our top priority, while ensuring that our route out of the international travel restrictions is sustainable,” he said.
The new rules come into force at 4am on June 30.
The changes – which also see Israel and Jerusalem added to the green watchlist – follow advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
There are also a number of additions to the red list, with returning travellers required to stay at a quarantine hotel.
The affected countries are the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Haiti, Kuwait, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda.
The full list of destinations moved to the green list comprises:
– Antigua and Barbuda
– Balearic islands
– British Antarctic Territory
– British Indian Ocean Territory
– British Virgin Islands
– Cayman Islands
– Pitcairn Islands
– Turks and Caicos Islands