Brits have been left confused after a health minister appeared to contradict official advice over travel following the relaxing of restrictions by saying all international trips were “dangerous”.
People in England, Scotland and Wales are able to travel overseas on holiday to a limited number of destinations after restrictions were eased.
There are green, amber and red lists for international travel, but politicians have offered differing advice over where the public are permitted to travel abroad.
Here the Radio News Hub team answers 12 key questions for holidaymakers:
– What is the confusion coming from Whitehall?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman, during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday, said leisure travel should still be restricted to the limited number of countries deemed safe by ministers, such as Portugal, which feature on the quarantine-free “green list”.
But two Cabinet ministers appeared to offer a different reading of the rules, with Environment Secretary George Eustice telling broadcasters people could go to amber-listed countries as long as they observed quarantine rules on their return.
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart, speaking after Mr Johnson’s comments on the matter, told Times Radio the public should ask themselves whether a trip to a country on the amber list was “essential” before conceding that “some people might think a holiday is essential”.
Further complicating matters, health minister Lord Bethell told peers he considered all foreign travel to be “dangerous” and urged Britons to holiday at home this summer.
– What are the lists and why are they important?
The Government has brought in a risk-based “traffic light” system with red, amber and green ratings for countries around the world. The ratings determine the quarantine and coronavirus testing requirements people face when returning home from Monday May 17, when the ban on overseas leisure travel was lifted.
– What is special about about the green list?
Travellers returning from a country or territory on that list will not need to quarantine, and will only be required to take one post-arrival coronavirus test.
– Sounds good. What locations are on it?
It consists of Portugal, Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, plus several small remote islands which are British Overseas Territories.
– So I can go on holiday to anywhere on that list?
Not quite. Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and the Faroe Islands have severely restricted entry criteria.
– Then where can I go?
Portugal is welcoming UK tourists who have had a recent negative test, have recovered from the virus and therefore have antibodies, or had both doses of a vaccine.
Gibraltar will not require UK visitors to be tested or vaccinated, whereas Israel will initially reopen its border on May 23 only to groups of foreign tourists who have had both jabs.
None of these destinations will require arrivals to quarantine.
– What about the amber list?
That covers many popular holiday destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said “you should not be travelling to these places right now”.
On Sunday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Times Radio people should not travel to places on the amber or red lists “unless it’s absolutely necessary, and certainly not for holiday purposes”.
The PM has also stressed countries on the amber list were “not somewhere where you should be going on holiday”.
– What if I go against that guidance?
People returning from amber countries must take two post-arrival tests.
They are also required to self-isolate at home for 10 days, although they can reduce that time if they take an additional negative test on day five.
– How about the red list?
Those returning from a red list country must stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £1,750.
– Will the lists change?
The lists will be amended every three weeks, but Boris Johnson said on Friday he did not expect new countries to be added to the green tier “very rapidly”.
– What about vaccine passports?
Mr Shapps confirmed that people in England will be able to demonstrate they have had both doses of a vaccine through the NHS app.
The Welsh Government said vaccination status certificates will be available from Monday May 24 for people in Wales who have had both doses and need to urgently travel to a country that requires proof of having been vaccinated.
– Can people living across the UK go on a foreign holiday?
Scotland’s travel rules are aligned with those in England, and the same traffic light system came into place on Monday, but officials have urged people to be cautious.
Non-essential travel from Northern Ireland to the Common Travel Area, which consists of the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, is now also allowed.
While Wales allowed international travel from Monday in alignment with England’s traffic light system, the Welsh Government’s concerns about reimporting the virus mean it is advising people not to travel abroad during 2021.