Covid-19: Amber travel watchlist idea scrapped by government

3 August 2021, 12:47

Plans for an 'amber watchlist' for international travel have been dropped by the Government
Plans for an 'amber watchlist' for international travel have been dropped by the Government. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

The Government has abandoned the idea of an "amber watchlist" category of countries under the international travel rules.

Ministers had been considering the new category for nations at risk of being moved into the red group under the traffic light system.

But following a backlash by Tory MPs, ministerial concerns and complaints from the travel industry, government sources confirmed there would be "no amber watchlist".

Read more: Families reunite as double jabbed US and EU travellers arrive in UK free from quarantine

On Tuesday, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Gillian Keegan told LBC: "What we're trying to do is tread this very careful, very difficult balance between opening up travel and keeping the country safe from new variants.

"And as we've tried to do that, we've explored all options."

She added: "The most important thing when we're designing a system - and where we came down on in the end - is to make sure that the system is simple enough for people to understand because then adherence will be much greater."

Read more: Covid-19: What are the latest changes to the travel rules?

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the approach to travel needed to be "as simple as we can possibly make it".

He told reporters at Airbus in Stevenage: "On travel, we have had to balance it because of the anxiety that I think a lot of people have - I have - about importing new variants, bringing back the disease.

"We also have to recognise that people want, badly, to go on their summer holidays, we need to get the travel industry moving again, we need to get our city centres open again and so we want an approach that is as simple as we can possibly make it."

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, was the against the idea of the "amber watchlist".

"There's no need for an amber watchlist, which would complicate the traffic light system even more," he tweeted.

"Just create a simple go and no-go list, as Americans have, enabling the fully-jabbed to travel at will. It's not rocket science."

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak reportedly told the Prime Minister in a letter that the UK's entry and exit rules were "out of step" with other countries.

The Government is expected to announce changes to the traffic light system on Thursday.