Calls to relax holiday rules as only one in 200 travellers from amber list countries tests positive for Covid

·3 min read
Lisbon, Portugal is on the amber list (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Lisbon, Portugal is on the amber list (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Fewer than one in 200 people returning to the UK from “amber list” countries are testing positive for Covid-19.

Data from NHS Test and Trace also revealed that no virus variants of concern were found in any of the travellers entering the country from the 167 destinations currently graded “amber” by the British government.

Between 20 May and 9 June, just 89 of the 23,465 passengers arriving from amber countries tested positive for the virus.

Not a single case was detected in travellers hailing from 151 of the countries on the list.

The “traffic light” system was introduced in May in order to reopen international travel, with the UK classifying countries as red, amber or green with accompanying restrictions of varying severity for returning travellers.

The government emphasised that people should only be going on holiday to green list countries, but only 12 destinations originally made the cut.

Portugal, the only mainstream tourist destination to achieve green list status, was soon shunted down to amber in the government’s first review. The next update is expected to take place on 24 June.

The latest Test and Trace figures for returning travellers have prompted some government ministers and leading figures in the travel industry to call for a different approach.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of Conservative MPs, said: “Vaccination and testing are making international travel safer just as surely as they make things safer within our borders,” adding, “It’s time British people were able to reap the benefits of the vaccines and for us to get the travel industry moving again.”

Travel expert Paul Charles, founder of the PC Agency, said: “It’s hard for the government to hide behind this data, which is clearly showing that the green list should be widened and that most amber countries are in fact safe to travel to and from.”

Currently, being double vaccinated does not absolve returning travellers of the onerous quarantine requirements: amber list returnees must self-isolate for 10 days at home, while red list arrivals must pay for an expensive 11-night stay in a government-mandated quarantine hotel.

The government is said to be considering scrapping the quarantine requirement for amber list travellers, a move which could be introduced by “late July” according to experts.

NHS data from the same three-week period showed that red list arrivals had an infection rate that was four times as high as those from amber list countries.

Of the 24,511 travellers entering the UK from red list countries, 435 tested positive, while 89 variants of concern were identified.

A government spokesperson told The Times: “Our top priority is protecting the health of the public and our enhanced borders regime is helping minimise the risk of new variants being imported into the UK.

“We are committed to protecting the country against the risk of variants.

“Every essential check that has been introduced — from testing to the passenger locator form — is helping prevent the new coronavirus variants making it into the UK. It is important to note that not all tests in this data were sequenced for variants.

“We have some of the most stringent border measures in the world including implementing a three-test regime, and requiring all those travelling from red or amber list countries to quarantine for ten days.

“We have enhanced spot checks to make sure people are quarantining and they may be referred for police action including a fine starting at £1,000 up to £10,000.”

Read More

Watch live as Joe Biden signs Juneteenth National Independence Day Act

Royal Caribbean cancels volunteer test cruise after eight crew members test positive for Covid-19

Two passengers on fully vaccinated cruise test positive for Covid

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting