No changes will be made to green or amber list for rest of August, minister tells LBC

5 August 2021, 08:47

Grant Shapps said there will be no changes to the green and amber list for August
Grant Shapps said there will be no changes to the green and amber list for August. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

There will be no changes to the green, amber and red lists for the rest of August – giving holidaymakers certainty if they plan to get away, the transport secretary has promised.

Grant Shapps told LBC's Tom Swarbrick that it will allow people to enjoy going abroad without having to "look over their shoulders".

He also appeared to defend the logic behind the introduction of an amber watchlist – an idea scrapped by Government after it was criticised as over-complicating the traffic light system.

Speaking on Wednesday, as it was announced double-jabbed arrivals from France will no longer need to quarantine, Mr Shapps said: "We've looked at the data… and found that we can provide people with certainty for the rest of August.

Read more: Fully-vaccinated arrivals from France no longer need to isolate amid green list changes

Read more: 'I want to go to France, I'm double jabbed, what do I do?'

"It's not like last year where we had weekly changes, this is now set for the next three weeks, we can give people certainty for the rest of August, unless something that absolutely no one saw coming turns up, then people can go away, enjoy the holidays and not have to look over their shoulders."

The traffic light system has been criticised for becoming over complicated.

The green, amber and red lists, which rank countries based on their Covid outbreaks, have different rules for quarantine upon return.

Green list countries are easy to return from while red list destinations require hotel quarantine at considerable cost on return.

However, modifications throughout its existence have caused criticism.

Within the green list, there is a green watchlist for countries that are at risk of moving to amber.

Read more: Changes unveiled to foreign travel traffic light system - full list

A further tweak means that fully-vaccinated people are allowed to arrive back from an amber list country without quarantining – as if it were a green list country.

Later, France was effectively put into a category of its own. While it remained on the amber list, fully-vaccinated people still had to quarantine on return to the UK, because of concerns about the Beta variant.

It had also emerged that an amber watchlist, for countries at risk of being put in the red list, was being mooted by people in Government.

That idea was scrapped after criticism from the travel industry, while Labour called for a simpler system.

Mr Shapps told LBC that he accepted the move to not introduce an amber watchlist, and said it was a collective decision.

But he was considered to have been one of the ministers who supported the idea of an amber watchlist and he appeared to defend the logic behind it to Tom Swarbrick.

"Last year we had a travel corridor system… countries were either on the corridor or off the corridor, and everybody rightly said 'actually, that's a pretty blunt instrument'.

"We've got a traffic light system because it enables people to get a bit more of a sense of what's going on within that detail, and I personally believe it's always a good idea to provide people with detail, against which we don't want a system which is over-complicated."

He added: "What we're trying to avoid is the cliff edge, something suddenly changing, so I don't think there's a really strong argument against giving people as much information as possible."