Under rules to be reviewed on Thursday, double-vaccinated travellers can return without quarantining from countries rated “amber” on a “traffic-light” list assessing the Covid-19 risk
Coronavirus: Matt Warman defends the government’s travel watch list
Brits may soon be warned from visiting hotspots such as Spain as Covid concerns mount once again, it has been reported.
The government is set to announce changes to the travel system this week, including a new amber watchlist of countries which could move to the red list with little warning.
Travellers returning to the UK from red list countries have to pay £1,750 to stay in hotel quarantine for 10 days.
Spain is thought to be one of the countries considered for the list.
Such a step could trigger an exodus of about a million British tourists already abroad, cause further damage to the travel sector and deal a new blow to southern Europe’s summer tourist season.
Madrid has been hit by the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant, but its rolling seven-day infection rate dropped throughout last week.
There are fears that Greece and Italy could also be included.
A spokesperson for Britain’s transport ministry declined to comment on whether Spain is in line for the amber watchlist.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s travel rules have angered some of Britain’s European allies, frustrated millions of sun-seeking Britons and brought warnings from airports, airlines and tour companies.
In a letter to Johnson that was leaked to media, finance minister Rishi Sunak called for an urgent easing of travel restrictions.
Under rules to be reviewed on Thursday, double-vaccinated travellers can return without quarantining from countries rated “amber” on a “traffic-light” list assessing the Covid-19 risk.
Those returning from red-list countries – the most severe risk – must pay £1,750 pounds to spend 10 days in a hotel.
An amber watchlist was due to be signed off on Thursday but a split in the government could delay a decision, The Times said.
Some travel experts have questioned whether rumours of the amber watchlist are a bluff.
Simon Calder wrote in The Independent: “The proposed “amber watchlist” is believed to be an empty threat aimed at dampening demand for travel to popular destinations with high coronavirus infection rates such as Spain’s Balearic islands.
“There is not enough capacity in the hotel quarantine system to accommodate returning holidaymakers. But the mere threat of red list status is proving enough to stop many people booking, or to switch away.”
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, tweeted: “There’s no need for an amber watchlist, which would complicate the traffic light system even more.”
Citing the threat posed by the Beta coronavirus variant, England has maintained quarantine rules for double-vaccinated travellers from France, while scrapping the requirement for travellers from other medium-risk “amber” countries.
France has complained, saying the bulk of its Beta variant cases come from the island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean.