Confusion over holidays as some ministers give go-ahead - but others say travel is ‘dangerous’

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 8:46 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 10:37 am
Confusion remains in place regarding whether or not people should book to go abroad this summer, as ministers give drastically different advice (Photo: Shutterstock)

Confusion remains in place regarding whether or not people should book to go abroad this summer, as ministers give drastically different advice.

A new “traffic light system” for overseas travel was implemented on Monday (17 May) to allow some foreign travel to resume.

However, although holidaymakers are able to travel to countries on the “green list” without having to quarantine on return, this is not the case for destinations on the “amber list”.

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Those who travel to a country on the “amber list” have to self-isolate on their return to England, but some ministers are saying it is safe to travel to these destinations, with others advising against any travel abroad.

‘Travelling is dangerous’

Environment Secretary George Eustice told broadcasters people could go to amber-listed countries as long as they observed quarantine rules on their return.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart told Times Radio the public should ask themselves whether a trip to a country on the amber list was “essential”, before adding that “some people might think a holiday is essential”.

However, education minister Gillian Keegan said travel to amber list destinations was supposed to be for “special circumstances” such as business or funerals.

She told Sky News on Wednesday (19 May): “What we are saying is the amber list is not to go on holiday, not for pleasure travel at the moment.

“It’s not in legislation, we haven’t legislated to ban people from going on holiday abroad. This is guidance.”


Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said countries on the “amber list” were “not somewhere where you should be going on holiday”.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman, during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday (18 May), said holidays and leisure travel should still be restricted to the limited number of countries on the “green list”.

However, health minister Lord Bethell told peers he considered all foreign travel to be “dangerous”, urging people to holiday at home this summer.

Lord Bethell told the House of Lords on Tuesday (18 May): “Travelling is dangerous.

“We do ask people, particularly as we go into the summer, travelling is not for this year, please stay in this country.”

‘Confusion amongst families who have booked travel’

An aviation industry chief said Lord Bethell’s comments were incorrect and would cause “confusion” for families with trips already booked.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “These comments are simply not correct and will cause real anger amongst the hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on international travel, and confusion amongst families who have booked travel under the Government’s own restart policy, now less than 48 hours old.

“People should not travel to red countries we know that, but to generalise against perfectly legal travel even to green countries is deeply unhelpful.”

Those returning to the UK from a country on the “red list” have to quarantine for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel, as well as complying with pre-departure testing and mandatory PCR testing on or before day two and on or after day eight.

You can only enter the UK if you are a British or Irish National, or have UK residence rights