BRITS can now go ahead and book their summer holidays abroad, Grant Shapps declared today.
The transport secretary has ditched the official advice not to plan foreign trips for the first time.
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And he vowed to drive down the cost of testing for people who want to jet off for some sun – or to see family abroad.
But he urged would-be travellers to wait another couple of weeks until the Government has published which destinations will be on its green list.
Asked whether people should now book a trip, he said: “My advice today would be moving on from where we were before.
“I’m not telling people they shouldn’t book summer holidays now, it’s the first time I’ve been able to say that for many months.
“But I think everyone doing it understands there are risks with Corornavirus.
“And of course actually I think people would want to be clear about which countries are going to be in the different traffic light system and people predominantly of course will be looking to book in a green country.
“There’s only two or three weeks to wait before we publish that list itself but yes, tentative progress.
“For the first time people can start to think about visiting loved ones abroad or perhaps a summer holiday.
“But we’re doing it very very cautiously because we don’t want to see any return of Coronavirus in this country.”
The Government has announced international travel will be governed by a “traffic light” system when it restarts again – set to be on May 17.
Under the scheme countries will be classified as either green, amber, or red, depending on the state of the pandemic and rate of vaccinations.
There would be quarantine-free travel to “green listed” countries that have jabbed a large portion of the population.
But people returning from those destinations would still have to take a test both before getting on the plane and then again on their second day back.
The second test in the UK would have to be a PCR test, which can cost around £120 each.
The US, Gibraltar, Malta and much of the Caribbean are tipped for green status – and Greece could also make the cut.
Spain and Italy may also be able to join from June if their jabs programmes progress well.
Those returning from amber countries would have to quarantine for two weeks and take two PCR tests at a cost of over £200.
And people arriving from red list states would be put into hotel quarantine, which costs £1,750 per person.
Travel traffic light system
GREEN: Anyone returning from these countries must take a pre-flight Covid test at their own cost, then take a further test within days of landing to check for new strains
AMBER: Like green but those entering the UK must isolate at home for ten days after arrival. They can get out after five days with a negative test paid for privately
RED: Arrivals must isolate on their return in an authorised hotel at their own cost — as they do currently
Mr Shapps advised people only to travel to green countries and said he’s looking at ways to “drive down” the costs of testing.
He said one idea is for the Government to provide holidaymakers with cheaper lateral flow tests before they travel – which they can then use abroad before getting on the plane.
And he also added ministers are trying to see how they can drive down the price of the return PCR tests, which are used to sequence variants from abroad.
He said: “Costs are definitely a concern, it’s one of the factors this year and we have to accept we’re still going through a global pandemic.
“We forget in the UK because we’ve had such a successful rollout of the vaccine that actually in the rest of the world this thing is raging and there’s a big third wave.”
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He added: “I am undertaking today to drive down the cost of those tests. We’re trying to do everything we can to help.
“In the green category we’ll try to make it as affordable as possible to travel, but taking abundance of caution as we go.
“Because we don’t want to throw away all the good work of these lockdowns and people coming forward for vaccines by picking up variants of concern or anything else.”