Travel bosses are begging ministers not to introduce a new 'amber watchlist' travel traffic light category designed to warn holidaymakers about countries that could be placed on the red list at short notice.
The move could mean holidaymakers in amber countries, which currently include Italy and Spain, could be told with little warning that their destination is being upgraded to red, so they will have to quarantine in a hotel at a cost of £1,750 when they return to England.
Reports suggest Cabinet ministers are split over the idea.
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Currently, fully vaccinated travellers from the UK do not have to isolate at all when returning from an amber country.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, is one of those to have railed against the idea of an amber watchlist.
“There’s no need for an amber watchlist, which would complicate the traffic light system even more,” he tweeted.
“Just create a simple go and no-go list, as Americans have, enabling the fully-jabbed to travel at will. It’s not rocket science.”
There is already a green watchlist to alert holidaymakers that certain destinations could be relegated to the amber list, where anyone not fully vaccinated has to self-isolate for 10 days on their return.
All travellers entering the UK from green list locations do not have to self-isolate, while there is also an amber-plus list, containing only France at present, which scraps the quarantine exemption for the double-jabbed.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, according to the Telegraph, is against the idea of an amber watchlist and would instead like to see travel opened up further.
It comes as Labour accused the Government of being “in chaos over their border policy” following reports the Chancellor has written to Boris Johnson to call for travel restrictions to be eased.
Rishi Sunak has reportedly told the Prime Minister that the UK’s entry and exit rules are “out of step with our international competitors” and are hurting the economy.
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said it showed the two most senior figures in Government were “in open disagreement” over the travel regulations, which are in place to keep Covid-19 variants of concern from taking hold in the UK.
“Rather than brief the Sunday newspapers against each other, the Tories need to get a grip and bring this summer of chaos to an end,” said the senior Opposition figure.
Ministers are due to meet on Thursday to decide the travel rules that will be in place for most of August.
Analysts have predicted that Spain could be the next country to go on the amber-plus list, in what would be a blow to British tourists given the country is the UK’s most popular tourist destination, while France could be promoted to amber once again.
No 10 sources said it was too early to speculate on what changes might be made next week, and pointed to the decision to allow into Britain those fully vaccinated coming from the US and European Union as an example of Mr Johnson’s own desire to see looser restrictions.
Under the rule, which came into effect at 4am on Monday, double-jabbed US and EU travellers do not need to quarantine on arrival into England.
The Department for Transport said it would not comment on “speculation” when asked about whether an amber watchlist was being considered.
A spokesman for the Whitehall department said the traffic light system was “kept under regular review” and “based on the latest risk assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre”, which assesses the public health risk of international travel.
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