Labour demanded data informing the travel rules as it accused the Government of ‘reckless u-turns and confusion’
Image: Redazione Telenews/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Travel chiefs have urged Boris Johnson to axe all travel curbs for double-jabbed passengers after the Prime Minister abandoned plans to create a new “amber watchlist”.
Industry bosses called for the traffic light system for international visits to be scrapped when the Government issues its latest update, due on Thursday.
Labour has demanded the data behind the Government travel decisions after fresh confusion and chaos for British holidaymakers.
And it emerged that the boss of the Joint Biosecurity Centre, which advises the Government on travel, has quit, prompting questions about whether the body is “rudderless”.
Plans to create an amber watchlist for countries tipped to turn red were dumped on Monday after a ferocious backlash from Tory MPs and the travel industry.
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The new classification would have been the sixth category for travel, alongside red, amber, green, and a watchlist for green countries due to turn amber.
Ministers also created a separate “amber plus” category for France, where the quarantine exemption for double jabbed travellers does not apply.
The Save Our Summer campaign group organised a letter to the PM signed by 300 travel firms, saying: “We urge ministers to simplify travel urgently so that at least the key travel month of August can be salvaged.
“The traffic light system should be either abandoned or made much easier, along the lines of the American system.
“There would continue to be some red countries which would be out of bounds but the majority of destinations would be accessible to the fully jabbed.
“This easy-to-understand policy would help the UK travel sector recover, build confidence quickly among consumers and still protect our country’s health needs with pre-departure testing.
“We call on the Prime Minister to act swiftly so as to save tens of thousands of jobs and provide clarity for consumers hoping to travel to see loved ones.”
Signatories included travel firms such as Trailfinders, United Airlines, Finnair, Kirker Holidays and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Tory minister Gillian Keegan defended the latest chaos and U-turn, saying: “What we’re trying to do is tread this very very difficult balance between opening up travel and keeping the country safe from new variants.
“And as we try to do that obviously we’ve explored all options and looked at the balance between what’s going to keep people safe.
“Of course everything’s discussed, we’re exploring all options because there’s no playbook for any of this, but the most important thing when we’re designing a system, and where we came down on in the end is the make sure that the system is simple enough for people to understand, because then adherence will be much greater.”
She confirmed the three-week traffic list overhaul will be announced on Thursday.
Ms Keegan also confirmed that Clare Gardiner had left her role as director general of the JBC and it was “looking for a new chair”.
She rejected the suggestion the JBC had been left rudderless by Dr Gardiner’s departure because “there’s still a team of experts” who are “looking at the data and giving their analysis based on that”.
Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon demanded the data behind the Government’s decisions on travel rules.
“The Tories are in total chaos over their border policy, with days of confusion surrounding their plans for an amber watchlist,” he said.
“Not only have ministers failed to protect our borders, allowing the Delta variant to reach the UK in such force, but time and time again they’ve refused to be straight with the public and industry to provide them with the information they need to build confidence, with clear information on the direction of travel of infections in each country.
“Ministers need to get a grip and set out a proper strategy, provide full data and progress work with global partners on international vaccine passports so travellers and the industry can have the maximum clarity, instead of reckless U-turns and confusion.”