Holidaymakers faced fresh confusion over whether they can travel to amber list countries today as a Cabinet minister suggested people can “visit friends”.
George Eustice said there were “reasons” people felt the need to travel to amber zones, despite official government advice stating
people “should not” travel to those countries.
The Environment Secretary’s comments clashed with the London director of Public Health England, Professor Kevin Fenton, who said: “Don’t travel unnecessarily if you don’t need to.”
Asked why more than 150 planes left for amber destinations yesterday, Mr Eustice told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We don’t want to stop travel altogether and the reason, as Matt Hancock set out, that we have the amber list is there will be reasons why people feel they need to travel, either to visit family or indeed to visit friends.
“They can travel to those countries but they then have to observe quarantine when they return and have two tests after returning.
“So people can travel to those areas, yes, but they will then have to subject themselves to the quarantine requirements on return.”
Passengers faced border queues of up to three hours yesterday as thousands of Britons jetted off as restrictions were eased. However, many appeared to defy government guidelines not to take holidays in amber list countries which includes Spain and France.
Some travellers yesterday claimed they had to stand side by side with arrivals from India — which is on the red list — while queuing at Heathrow passport control.
It was claimed that a shortage of Border Force officials made the overcrowding worse. Travel firms welcomed the boost in demand but called for coronavirus restrictions to be eased for more destinations.
But Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of The Wellcome Trust charity, warned there “is a risk” that the coronavirus variant first identified
in India could be transmitted by people travelling out of the UK.
Professor Fenton advised people not to travel “unnecessarily”, citing Covid variants. Asked if people should “think twice” about going
overseas, he replied: “I think if you’re able to, that would be good until we have more certainty about what’s happening with the variants, what’s happening in other European countries and other holiday destinations.”
It comes as EU ambassadors are expected to sign off a plan that will allow inoculated travellers from low-risk countries such
as the UK unrestricted entry to Spain, France and Italy among other tourist destinations.