France and Spain travel SAVED from draconian rules – Boris grants EU hotspots reprieve

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Mr Johnson said the successful vaccine programme is helping to open up travel.

“I know how important holidays are to people,” the Prime Minister said. 

“People think about them, they save up for them, people yearn to go abroad this year. I totally get that. 

“We’ve got to balance that against the need to protect our country against the influx of new variants.

“We’ve got a balanced policy, but clearly we have the benefit now of the double jab system that is enabling us to go to countries in the EU and to come from the countries in the EU without having to quarantine, and the same goes for the US.”

The updated traffic light travel list is the final review of the school summer holidays.

Ministers have been under pressure to simplify the rules after the tourism sector warned they were too confusing for holidaymakers and were pushing the sector to the brink.

The recently added “amber plus”, which only contained France, left travellers having to quarantine at home.

Ministers scrapped the category yesterday and moved the country back to amber, which means fully vaccinated passengers only have to take covid tests before and after their journey to the UK.

But the green watchlist, which is designed to give travellers notice when a country could become amber, remains in place.

Spain’s status had been in doubt after covid rates caused concern but it remains on the amber list and is not expected to move imminently.

But the government urged travellers to take a PCR test instead of a lateral flow for the mandatory pre-departure test as it is more sensitive and will help in the fight against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.

Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will move to the quarantine-free green tier.

India, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will switch from red to amber.

The UAE status change will open up travel to other long haul green and amber destinations through its transit airports in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi.

But Mexico, Georgia, La Reunion and Mayotte will be put on the red list.

The rule changes will come into force at 4 am on Sunday, August 8 in England.

But the cost of quarantining in a state-selected hotel when arriving back from red zone destinations will rocket from £1,750 per person to £2,285 for a single adult from Thursday, August 12.

Any extra adults sharing the room will be billed £1,430 – up from £650.

Officials said the price rise would make sure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in the facilities.

Conservative Henry Smith, whose Crawley constituency includes Gatwick Airport, said the “right decision” has been made on France and the updated list is “going in the right direction”.

Mr Smith said it is “very late in the day” for the summer season but an increase in bookings is now likely because there is “growing confidence out there”.

Axel Hefer, CEO of trivago, said the rule change is expected to lead to a “significant” increase in Britons looking for last-minute holidays.

“Any simplification of the traffic light system can only be a good thing for consumers and the industry, more choice and more clarity will mean more comfort to travel.  

“Our data shows us that travellers are willing to wait to book, sometimes until the last minute, to ensure they can travel to their desired location and to understand the restrictions, if any. “As with other times restrictions have been lifted, we often see a significant boost in traffic searches from the UK looking to grab last-minute beach breaks and make the most of the end of the summer.” 

The Airport Operators Association said the changes are a “boost” for the industry.

Chief executive Karen Dee said: “The extension of the green list is a positive step forward and demonstrates that people can travel safely and with confidence.  

“This announcement will be a boost to our airports, their employees and the local economies who depend on aviation and just as importantly to those who have been prevented from visiting friends and relatives.  

“However, our airports continue to face a long road to recovery with passenger numbers remaining at historically low levels which continue to lag behind our European competitors.”

Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “While there’s some welcome progress, the government is still being too cautious at a time when they should be opening up travel faster to help the sector’s recovery. 

“Despite promising a simpler traffic lights system, there remain four colour categories.

Any simplification of the traffic light system can only be a good thing for consumers and the industry.

Axel Hefer, CEO of trivago

“The government is also failing to address the hurdles putting off consumers from booking, namely not giving a week or more’s notice of a country being moved to amber or red and the high cost of onerous testing. Until these are resolved, the government continues to deliberately keep travel in an armlock.”

Noel Josephides, director of industry affairs at AITO, The Specialist Travel Association, said PCR tests for travellers from Spain would mean a “big additional cost barrier” for a family of four. 

As a premier mass-market destination, this is likely to adversely affect the flow of British travellers to Spain a great deal,” he said. 

“Other measures are generally welcome – although most of the new green traffic light category is certainly not prime summer holiday territory for the British – but it will take a good deal of time to boost consumer confidence.”

The changes were made after analysis by the Joint Biosecurity Centre of the risks in other countries.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we’ve made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world. 

“While we must continue to be cautious, today’s changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public.”

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