Despite days of rumors, plans for the controversial amber watchlist were ultimately scrapped.
The Prime Minister was facing a revolt from the Tories over the idea, which could have made travel restrictions even more complicated.
But what happened? Here’s all you need to know.
What was the amber watchlist?
Prime Minister was considering whether to introduce a new tier in the government’s traffic light system to warn people that their destination could quickly turn from orange to red, which would require quarantine in a hotel .
Spain and potentially Greece were being considered for the new category, meaning people could have been faced with the prospect of paying £ 1,750 per person to stay in a hotel if the government downgraded either. country.
Why was the Amber Watchlist removed?
Boris Johnson has bowed to pressure to drop plans for a travel category on the Orange Watchlist after a revolt by several members of his cabinet and backbench MPs.
Figures like Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and International Trade Secretary Liz Truss have all reportedly opposed new travel restrictions.
Mr Shapps was opposed to the idea and rather wanted travel to open up more, the Telegraph reported.
The Chancellor, meanwhile, reportedly told Johnson that UK entry and exit rules were “out of step with our international competitors” and were hurting the economy.
Government sources confirmed I that the plans were scrapped.
When asked if he personally supports an “orange watch list” category, Mr Johnson said he wanted to see “something as simple and as friendly as possible for people”.
“I understand that people care a lot about their vacations, people want to go abroad, I understand how much people plan, prepare, for summer vacation,” the prime minister said at a visit to Stevenage.
“But we must also remember that this is still a dangerous virus and we must try to prevent variants from entering, must stop importing variants from abroad, so we must have an approach balanced. “
The Prime Minister said the UK economy and society “are pretty much the most open in Europe” following the vaccine rollout, but insisted caution was still needed on travel due to of “anxiety” about importing new variants.
The decision to drop the proposal came just hours after it was defended by Digital Minister Matt Warman, who said the watchlist would allow people to make “more informed decisions” when it comes to booking. a travel.
“What nobody wants to do is go somewhere and find out they’ve changed categories before they get a chance to come back,” Warman said. “So what we’re absolutely going to aim to do is provide people with information to make informed decisions.”
But Tory MPs have raised doubts whether the government could find enough hotels to quarantine people returning from Spain.
Conservative MP Henry Smith, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on the future of aviation, said I that he and his colleagues had pressured ministers over the government’s plans for a new orange watchlist, which he called a “retrograde step,” adding that the majority of Tory MPs were against the measure.
“The idea that you can allow people to book their vacations in good faith and then a few days after you leave you are told you have to quarantine in a hotel at great expense, I just don’t think it is. fair, ”he added.
What is the situation now?
There are now four categories, green, amber and red, as well as the amber plus list which only contains France.
The government is also expected to quietly remove the amber plus category in the next review, with France moving to the amber list proper.
Reports suggest this change would see the measures – which require self-isolation for all returning travelers, regardless of their immunization status – entirely scrapped.
When is the next travel update?
Reviews of traffic restrictions at traffic lights in the UK take place every three weeks, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ latest update taking place on Wednesday 14 July.
The announcement broke with what has become an established tradition that changes are unveiled on Thursdays.
This means that the findings of the next review are expected to be announced on Wednesday August 4 or Thursday August 5, with any changes taking effect the following Monday.
What are the UK travel restrictions?
The traffic light system is decided on the basis of the following criteria:
- The percentage of a country’s population that has been vaccinated
- The infection rate
- The prevalence of worrisome variants
- The country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing
There are now five categories of traffic lights, two more than when Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps first announced the system in May 2021.
- Green: arrivals must pass a pre-departure test three days before returning to the UK as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test no later than the second day of their return. Quarantine does not apply (unless the Covid test comes back positive) and there is no requirement for further testing.
- Green Watch List: the same rules as the green list. However, the countries on this list “are at risk of going from green to orange”, potentially in the very short term.
- Amber: all travelers must pass a pre-departure test three days before return and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test no later than the second day of their return. Unvaccinated travelers should also self-isolate for 10 days and have a second PCR test on day 8. An optional five-day additional test may be performed, with a negative result allowing unvaccinated travelers to “test” out of quarantine. The Day 8 PCR test should always be performed regardless of the result of the optional Day 5 PCR test.
- Amber plus: all travelers must pass a pre-departure test three days before return and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test no later than the second day of their return and must self-isolate at home for 10 days. An optional additional PCR test can be performed on the fifth day, with a negative result allowing unvaccinated travelers to “test” out of quarantine. The Day 8 PCR test should always be performed regardless of the result of the optional Day 5 PCR test.
- Red: arrivals from Red List countries must complete a 10 day stay in a managed quarantine hotel at a cost of £ 1,750 per person, pre-departure testing and mandatory PCR testing no later than day 2 and on or after the eighth day.