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Coronavirus

COVID-19: UK PM Johnson ditches ‘amber watchlist’ travel idea

Published: Updated:

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly scrapped a proposal to create an ‘amber watchlist’ of countries at risk of moving to red in the travel traffic light.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted a “simple” and “balanced approach” to pandemic travel amid a revolt in the cabinet and a backlash from the travel industry, according to the BBC and The Guardian, quoting Cabinet sources.

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Tory MPs and travel industry figures has earlier warned a complex system risked putting people off from traveling.

The scrapped proposals come as ministers grow in confidence about the drop in daily COVID-19 cases across Britain, which fell to 21,052 on Monday.

The government had been considering the idea of a new level in the government’s traffic light system for overseas travel, ahead of the next review this week.

It would have warned people when a destination was at risk of a sudden shift from amber to red - meaning that travel would be banned for everyone except UK nationals and residents, requiring 10 days of expensive hotel quarantine on their return.

As opposition mounted, Johnson said he wanted to prevent new COVID-19 variants entering the UK, though he recognized a growing number if people wishing to travel abroad.

“We also have to recognize that people want, badly, to go on their summer holidays, we need to get the travel industry moving again, we need to get our city centers open again and so we want an approach that is as simple as we can possibly make it,” he said.

The prime minster said the UK’s economy and society were about “the most open in Europe” but he said caution was still needed.

Fears that popular destinations such as Spain, Greece and Italy could have been put into the new “amber watchlist” category prompted alarm among ministers that millions of tourists planning trips to those countries would be in limbo over whether they were soon to be subject to “red list” rules.

The travel industry reacted with relief at the news that the watch-list would not go ahead.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of the air travel industry body Airlines UK, told the BBC: “This is a victory for common sense. The PM has hit the nail on the head - people want a clear and consistent travel system that they can understand and that is workable.”

He urged the government to go further and include more countries on the green list, exempting them from quarantine requirements.

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The government already has a green watchlist, which features more than half the countries on the green list and signals they are at risk of moving to amber.

The next update to the travel list system is expected to take place on Thursday.

Read more:

Green, amber or red: UK to classify travel destinations in May

Saudi Arabia candidate for UK ‘green list’: Travel experts

Britain may toughen summer travel curbs for Spain-bound travelers