Holiday chaos as Matt Hancock urges Britons to stay off ‘orange list’ Spain, Greece and Italy despite travel ban ending
The BRITS holiday plans have been plunged into chaos as they have been urged to stay away from ‘orange list’ countries despite the end of the government’s ban on travel outside the UK.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said people shouldn’t travel to amber countries except for essential reasons and “certainly not” to countries like Italy, France, Greece and Spain.
His comments were echoed by Sir John Bell, professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Oxford, and a member of the government working group on vaccines, who said parts of Europe were “largely not vaccinated ”, which made them more vulnerable to the Indian variant of the coronavirus.
“People just have to get used to the fact that Cornwall or Bournemouth are not that bad,” he added.
Britons can travel abroad for the first time this year from Monday – but only twelve countries have been on the ‘green list’ which does not require quarantine on return.
Mr Hancock dashed hopes of a spring break in the sun this morning, saying Britons should only visit tourist spots like Spain or Greece if “absolutely necessary”.
“People shouldn’t travel to Amber List or Red List countries unless absolutely necessary, and certainly not on vacation,” he told Times Radio.
“Our borders, test [and] surveillance is the best in the world and that means we can spot problems in other countries sometimes before they know they have a problem themselves.
“So the green list is here for precisely that reason in order to provide a safe way where we know it is acceptable and safe to go abroad.”
Boris Johnson admitted last week that the number of countries on the green list is unlikely to change due to concerns over the spread of new variants.
And while Portugal has given coveted Green List status, holidaymakers have been warned to expect six-hour lines at the airport as around 3,000 sun-seeking Britons are expected to travel to the country.
Britons have booked trips to Portugal because it is one of the cheapest vacation options for families this summer, according to a new report.
It was judged to be the cheapest destination using the euro, with the Algarve leading the way, the Post’s Holiday Money Report revealed.
But as hopes of vacations in some of Europe’s top tourist spots fade, the Canary Islands regional government chief has said he could be added to the UK’s green list “shortly”.
Angel Victor Torres has said that Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria could soon welcome British tourists in a huge boost for the summer holidays.
Spain is currently on the ‘orange list’, which means holidaymakers must self-isolate at home when they return to the UK.
But politicians in the Canary Islands, all of whom have low infection rates, have pressured Boris Johnson to treat them differently from the rest of Spain.
Mr Torres said he hoped Canary Islands Day May 30, a public holiday in the region, could coincide with the return of British tourists.
He said: “The government of the Canary Islands is in constant contact with British authorities and the UK’s decision to treat regions separately from nations is something that will happen.
“This is something that could happen imminently.”
The Canary and Balearic Islands, which include Mallorca and Ibiza, pushed British diplomats in Spain to get the UK to treat them separately from mainland Spain.
The Balearic Islands have one of the lowest transmission rates in all of Spain, with a seven-day average of 44 cases per 100,000 as of May 10.
And the Canary Islands are also one of the best performing regions in a national comparison of transmission rates per 100,000 population – with 83 compared to 245 in Madrid or 334 in the Basque Country.
The Canary and Balearic Islands have retained control of their ports and airports for domestic travelers after Spain’s six-month state of alarm ended last weekend.
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Anyone traveling from Madrid to Mallorca must still have a negative PCR test.
Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark have also announced that they will allow citizens to travel to the Canary Islands without needing to self-isolate on their return.
Meanwhile, the Italian government announced today that UK visitors will not need to quarantine for five days upon arrival in a bid to revive the tourism industry.