The prime minister has weighed into the debate about amber list destinations, warning that Brits should not go on holiday to countries under that category.
Under the government’s traffic light system, most countries are on the amber list, meaning travellers arriving in the UK must self-isolate for 10 days.
Boris Johnson said it was “very important people grasp what the amber list is – not somewhere to go on holiday”.
He said travellers should “only go to these countries for pressing family or business reasons”, reported the BBC.
Those who break their self-isolation period on returning to the UK from these destinations face £10,000 fines, he warned.
Johnson made his comments on Tuesday afternoon, after environment secretary George Eustice had earlier told the BBC’s Today programme that people could travel to such destinations if they “feel they need” to visit family or friends.
“The reason we have the amber list is there will be reasons why people feel they need to travel – either to visit family or indeed to visit friends,” he said.
“They can travel to those countries but they then have to observe quarantine when they return and have two tests after returning. So people can travel to those areas, yes, but they will then have to subject themselves to quarantine on their return.”
Following the PM’s comments, Labour accused the government of “giving out conflicting and confused advice” about travel to countries on the amber travel list, according to the BBC.
The Daily Mail and Times newspapers also said that Eustice’s comments had sparked more confusion, especially as health secretary Matt Hancock had told MPs on Monday that there must be “an exceptional reason” for travel to an amber list destination and “people should not travel for a holiday”.
Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye told the Mail: “I think that this is where the government needs to help people to be law-abiding, because if they don’t put countries such as, let’s say Spain or Greece, which are accepting visitors from the UK, onto the green list in a timely way, then people will make their own choices.”
Meanwhile, the BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme highlighted how some consumers were unable to get refunds or rescheduled dates for holidays in amber destinations – many of which are popular holiday destinations such as France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Croatia.
The programme spoke to Sandra Norman and her family who spent nearly £5,000 booking a package deal with Villa Plus for a holiday in Rhodes at the end of May – but self-isolation upon return is not possible because of work and school.
Villa Plus told You & Yours: “Government advice on amber destinations is not legislation and whilst we empathise with those that may now choose not to travel due to the entry requirements they face upon return to the UK, we cannot provide them with a refund or credit for monies paid and they should seek compensation from their travel insurance provider.”
The company agreed to make an exception in Norman’s case, and has offered to move the flights to the same dates next year and issue a voucher for the value of the villa, which they can use to rebook once 2022 dates become available.
The programme also featured the problems faced by Lauren Bower and her family, due to fly with Tui to Gran Canaria on June 4.
Their holiday insurance would be invalid if they travelled to an amber country against government guidance. Tui can offer the family travel insurance, but it will mean paying twice.
Tui told the programme: “We’re offering as much choice and flexibility as possible; all customers due to depart before the end of August can change their holiday to another time for free before the end of October 2022.
“Unfortunately in line with our Tui Holiday Promise, their booking does not qualify for a refund or voucher. This would only happen if we have to cancel their booking for operational reasons, there’s a change in FCDO travel advice, or their destination is on the red list prior to travel.”
Watch: Advantage Travel Partnership legal counsel Joanna Kolatsis, of Themis Advisory gives advice around travelling to destinations following the Traffic Light List restrictions. The video is part of a toolkit created for Advantage members.