The prime minister has vowed to deliver a “simple” and “user-friendly” system for international travel following criticism of the introduction of an ‘amber watchlist’.
Boris Johnson faced a backlash from some backbench Conservative MPs today, following on from transport select committee chairman Huw Merriman saying an amber watchlist would be seen as “a massive red flag”.
Pressure also mounted on the prime minister from chancellor Rishi Sunak, and airline chief executives, over the weekend, calling for more destinations to be added to the green list.
The government had been expected to confirm the introduction of the new category, later this week.
Asked about the proposals this afternoon, the prime minister told reporters: “I obviously understand that people care very much about the holidays people want to go abroad.
“I understand how much people plan, prepare for the summer holidays, but we’ve also got to remember that it’s still a dangerous virus, and that we must try and stop variants coming in.
“We have to have a balanced approach and what I want to see is something that is as simple and as user friendly for people as possible.”
Johnson did however note and “anxiety” about importing new variants into the UK.
But he added: “We need to get people to get the travel industry moving again, to get our city centres open again. And so we want an approach that is as simple as we can possibly make it.”
Fully-vaccinated travellers no longer need to quarantine on their return from amber-list countries, while France has already been placed in an ‘amber plus’ category, requiring home quarantine for those returning.
The UK is also understood to be poised to lift restrictions on travellers who land in hubs in red list countries.
That change would mean that tourists travelling through hubs such as Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Doha, Dubai and Istanbul would not have to quarantine, even though countries such as Qatar, Turkey and the UAE remain on the red list.