Spain ‘will be spared going onto the travel red list’ because coronavirus case numbers are falling and the Government ‘doesn’t have enough hotel beds to force everybody to quarantine’
- Spain will not be added to the red list after a fall in coronavirus cases in country
- Spain will also not be added because of fears hotel quarantine could not cope
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will deliver traffic light update tomorrow
Ministers will not move Spain to the travel traffic light ‘red list’ because of falling case numbers in the country and fears the Government’s hotel quarantine system would be unable to cope.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to deliver his three-weekly update to the rules tomorrow.
Spain is currently on the amber list which means fully-vaccinated Brits can return home without having to quarantine.
There had been fears the country could be moved up to the ‘red list’ but it is now thought it will remain in the medium tier.
Meanwhile, holidays to France are expected to be back on the table with the ‘amber plus’ list set to be scrapped.
Spain is not expected to be added to the ‘red list’ when Grant Shapps delivers an update to the traffic light rules tomorrow. The Amadores beach in Gran Canaria is pictured yesterday
Spain is currently on the amber list which means fully-vaccinated Brits can return home without having to quarantine
France is the only country in the category which currently means that even double-jabbed travellers have to quarantine when they come home.
Ministers are expected to streamline the traffic light system but Boris Johnson remains under pressure to go further and scrap it completely.
Aviation bosses and Tory MPs believe the system should be replaced with one simple ‘red list’ of banned nations, with vaccinated tourists allowed to travel everywhere else quarantine-free.
France was put on the ‘amber plus’ list due to fears over the spread of the Beta coronavirus variant.
But numbers now show that just 0.4 per cent of Covid-19 cases in France are Beta while the number is 0.5 per cent in Spain, according to The Times.
Ministers were considering rolling out a new ‘amber watchlist’ for countries currently amber but at risk of imminently turning red.
It had been suggested that Spain could be put in the new category but Mr Johnson torpedoed the new list after a ferocious backlash.
As well as a fall in case numbers in Spain, it is also thought the nation will be spared the ‘red list’ because of logistical concerns around hotel quarantine.
All travellers returning from a ‘red list’ nation have to spend 10 days in a Government-approved hotel at their own expense.
The Government has tens of thousands of rooms reserved but with an estimated one million UK tourists in Spain there would not be space in the system for all of them to be housed.
A Whitehall source told The Times: ‘Spain won’t be going on the amber watchlist – the only danger is it going red but that’s very unlikely.
‘Cases are coming down. And they haven’t got enough beds to quarantine everybody. So it’s not going to happen.’
Mr Shapps is expected to add up to 10 countries to the green list tomorrow, with Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic all being tipped.
But the Government remains under pressure to do more, with aviation bosses and Tory MPs calling for the current system to be scrapped.
They believe the UK should follow the lead of the US where double-vaccinated travellers can visit any country which will welcome them. They do not have to quarantine on their return.
Travel bosses believe introducing a single ‘red list’ of countries which are out of bounds would also make it much easier for holidaymakers to book trips.
The expected changes to the rules came as it emerged that Boris Johnson will be taking a holiday in the UK this summer rather than heading a broad.
Mr Johnson, his wife Carrie, and son Wilfred took a trip to Scotland last year but it is not clear where he will go this time.
A senior government source told the Telegraph: ‘The PM’s going to staycation this year.’
Universities Minister Michelle Donelan insisted the PM’s apparent decision was not a comment on whether people should be staying in the UK.
She told Sky News: ‘No, I think that some people have planned some fantastic holidays to countries including green list countries.
‘We will get that update as you said this week from the Department for Transport as to the latest iteration around the traffic light system as we do every three weeks.
‘Also, there are some fantastic and amazing places to holiday here in the UK… I would strongly advocate that a staycation is a good option this year just as going abroad is too.’
What are the travel traffic light rules and what was the ‘amber watchlist’?
The Government currently has three main categories in its international traffic light scheme. These are red, amber and green. There is also an ‘amber plus’ list, but plans for an ‘amber watchlist’ have now been ditched.
Below is a breakdown of the rules for each category:
WHAT IS CURRENTLY IN PLACE?
RED: Travel to the UK from a red list country is banned for non-UK nationals. Britons returning to the UK must take a pre-departure test and book a ten-day stay in hotel quarantine including tests at a cost of £1,750. Countries include Turkey, India, Kenya and the UAE.
AMBER: A pre-departure test is required before heading to Britain while non-vaccinated people have to quarantine for ten days at home and book tests on day two and day 8. They can also pay for a day 5 test under the ‘test to release’ scheme. The fully-vaccinated do not have to isolate but they do have to book a day 2 test. Countries include Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece.
AMBER PLUS: This category currently only features France. It means everyone returning from the country, including the fully-vaccinated, must quarantine at home for 10 days and take tests on day two and day eight.
GREEN WATCHLIST: This is a category for countries which are at risk of losing their green status (see below). Countries include Barbados, Croatia and Israel.
GREEN: Returning travellers must take a pre-departure test and book a day two test as well. Quarantine is not required for anyone unless the test is positive. Countries include Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Iceland and Malta.
WHAT WERE THE GOVERNMENT CONSIDERING?
AMBER WATCHLIST: Ministers had considered bringing in this category to highlight countries which are amber but at imminent risk of turning red. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is said to have been behind the plan, but it was opposed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Prime Minister Boris Johnson signalled yesterday it had been dropped.
WHAT COULD BE ABANDONED NEXT?
Ministers are preparing to streamline the travel traffic light rules by scrapping the ‘green watchlist‘ and the ‘amber plus‘ category, it was claimed today. Travel chiefs are pushing the Government to replace the whole system with a single ‘red list’ of banned countries.
WHAT COUNTRIES ARE ON THE GREEN WATCHLIST?
Anguilla; Antarctica/British Antarctic Territory; Antigua and Barbuda; Barbados; Bermuda; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cayman Islands; Croatia; Dominica; Grenada; Israel and Jerusalem; Madeira (mainland Portugal is amber); Montserrat; Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands; Taiwan; and Turks and Caicos Islands.
GREEN LIST COUNTRIES (NOT ON GREEN WATCHLIST)
Brunei; Bulgaria; Falkland Islands; Faroe Islands; Gibraltar; Hong Kong; Iceland; Malta; Singapore; South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands; St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha