Italy could be the next country to be added to the “amber plus” travel list throwing thousands more holiday plans into chaos, the Mirror has learned.
Senior Government sources revealed the popular holiday destination was being “watched closely” by ministers and was looking a “risky bet” for trips abroad.
Ministers are understood to be concerned about sharply increasing Covid transmission rates, with the Delta variant rapidly gaining traction.
Italian health experts believe the increase has been fuelled in part by huge street celebrations after the country’s Euro 2020 win earlier this month.
Do you have a view on this story? Let us know in the comments below.
The Italian government is particularly concerned about the spread of the virus among the two million people over the age of 60 who are still completely unvaccinated.
Analysis by Labour suggests that around 900,000 Brits are planning holidays in Italy this summer, and some of the most popular destinations are already seeing steep rises in cases.
If Spain and Greece also go on the amber plus list amid concerns over the more vaccine resistant Beta variant, the holiday plans of nearly 8 million people could be ruined.
But Whitehall insiders have predicted that France could go back on the amber list at the next travel review, expected on August 5, after a huge Cabinet row.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is said to have been furious at the decision taken last week to require those travelling back from France to quarantine.
The Government introduced an exemption for the requirement to isolate at home for 10 days for fully-vaccinated holidaymakers returning from countries on the amber list.
But ministers removed the exemption for France amid concerns over the Beta variant, creating what critics call an “amber plus” designation on the traffic light system for foreign travel.
Sign up for our daily coronavirus briefing newsletter to keep up to date with all the essential information and changes at www.mirror.co.uk/email .
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “If the government don’t get a grip on this soon, the prospect of a summer holiday after a long and difficult 18 months is going to be snatched away from people at the last minute.
“These eleventh-hour decisions and refusal to give people the tools to make an informed plan, after already failing to protect our borders, simply cannot continue.
“Ministers risk shattering public confidence and strangling the travel industry – and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports – beyond any hope of recovery.”
Home Office minister Kit Malthouse has apologised for delays at the borders after travellers complained about “total chaos” at airports as schools closed and summer holidays began.
Passengers complained of long queues to get through departures and arrivals at the weekend, with images posted on social media showing crowded terminals.
Border Force is among the critical sectors that will be exempt from being “pinged” while discussions are also underway for airline staff.