Labour slams government’s travel traffic light rating system as “confusing” and “dangerous”

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Praia do Carvoeiro, tourists enjoying the beach, turquoise sea, steep coast, rugged rocky coast of sandstone, rock formations in the sea, Lagoa Region, Algarve, Portugal. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Tourists enjoying the beach in Algarve, Portugal. (PA)

Labour has criticised the government’s traffic light rating system for travel as “confusing and “dangerous”.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday that the travel system has created a “real, real problem”.

It comes after the government announced on Thursday that Portugal would be moved off the green list and onto the amber list next week.

Swathes of Brits in the country have now been scrambling to get home before the rules change at 4am on Tuesday and they’ll be forced to self-isolate for 10 days.

Read: Portugal axed from green travel list amid warnings of new 'Nepal mutation' in Europe

Nandy told Andrew Marr: "I think we've got a real, real problem with the travel system that the Government has put in place.

"We've currently got countries on the amber list which the Government is basically urging people not to go to but allowing people to go to with very lax quarantine requirements when they come back.

"We think the amber list should be scrapped. We think it's pointless. We think it's confusing and that confusion is actually dangerous at the moment.

"It risks unravelling all of the progress that we've made."

Watch: Britons scrambling to get home from Portugal to beat quarantine

Labour has previously called for the traffic light system to be scrapped altogether, branding it “as secure as a sieve”.

Instead, they argue that there should be a stricter scheme of a blanket quarantine in airport hotels for anyone returning from abroad.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds previously said: “The greatest threat we face to our unlocking is a variant from overseas that threatens the efficacy of our vaccines, that’s why we’ve got to do everything we practically can to prevent that outcome from happening.”

EMBARGOED TO 0001 SUNDAY MAY 30 File photo dated 22/08/20 of passengers in the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport, London. The UK is set to miss out on billions of pounds of spending from passengers arriving into Heathrow if the green list is not extended as part of the upcoming travel review, a new report warns. Issue date: Sunday May 30, 2021.
Labour has slammed the government's traffic light system. (PA)

But Home Office minister Victoria Atkins sought to defend the traffic light system this week, saying that the public should “exercise their common sense” about travelling abroad.

Asked on Times Radio whether her department would rather people stayed in the UK, Atkins said: “We’re very, very, very supportive of the traffic light system.

"There are some countries in the world at the moment that because of the variants and the rates of infection are simply too dangerous for us to visit in terms of COVID, and of course they are on the red list.

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“We then have the amber list which we very much ask people not to travel to unless there are very particular, very dire consequences they’re having to deal with, such as a dying relative, and then the green list."

Assessments for changes to a country’s placement on the traffic light system are based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Portugal saw its highest increase since March in daily cases of COVID infections on Wednesday, with a case rate of around 37 infections per 100,000, compared to 34.5 in the UK.

Watch: This is how the new traffic light system works

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