The government’s mixed messages have created confusion over whether it is safe or appropriate for people to travel abroad to an Orange List country for vacations.
As part of the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions, international leisure travel resumed in England on Monday – and foreign countries received a red, amber or green rating for trips according to their COVID situation.
So why was there confusion?
Yesterday, Environment Secretary George Eustice then told broadcasters that people can visit Orange List countries such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece “if they feel the need âto visit family and friends, provided they follow the quarantine rules on their return.
Then, in a briefing with reporters, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said leisure travel should always be limited to the limited number of countries deemed safe, such as Portugal, which is on the “green list. “.
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart later told Times Radio that the public should question whether a trip to an Orange List country was “essential” before admitting that “some people might think a public holiday is essential”.
In the evening, Health Minister Lord Bethell told his peers he considered all overseas travel “dangerous” and urged Britons to spend a holiday at home this summer.
This morning minister of skills Gillian Keegan told Sky News that the Amber List countries were “not a place where you should go on vacation” but that it was a “time for prudent personal responsibility” and “to be reasonable”.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps echoed that advice when he said “you shouldn’t be going to these places right now.”
What did the Prime Minister say?
“I think it’s very important that people understand what an Orange List country is: it’s not a place you should go on vacation, let me be very clear about that.” , Boris Johnson said yesterday.
“Please keep in mind that you will have to isolate yourself, you will have to take tests and fill out your passenger locator form and everything in between.”
What advice does FCDO give?
The advice of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) adds to the confusion.
It says “to prevent new variants of COVID from entering the UK, you should not travel to Amber or Red List countries”.
However, some regions are exempt.
For example, FCDO’s specific advice for Greece listed in orange âadvises against all travel except essential, with the exception of the islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu and Creteâ.
The FCDO opinion on Spain advises against “all travel except essential … including the Balearic Islands but excluding the Canary Islands“.
Is travel insurance coverage available for Orange List destinations?
Vacation insurance will not be possible for Orange List destinations where FCDO advises against traveling.
And if you book a destination from the green list and that country changes to orange, the insurance will no longer be valid.
Some providers will reimburse the costs, but others will not.
This means that insurance for Amber List countries would be invalid – and developments in other countries could cause customers to see their coverage follow the same path.
But divergences in FCDO’s advice leave some vacation destinations open – and make valid insurance possible.
What do travel agencies say?
Millions of British holidaymakers are said to have already booked to travel to Orange List countries this summer.
Europe’s largest package holiday company TUI has already released information that shows it has more than 2.5 million forward bookings.
In a statement, the company said, âWe want to offer our customers flexibility and choice this summer, so where borders are open and FCDO guidance allows travel, we will operate to those destinations.
“We know some customers may not be sure whether to travel this summer, so we’ve offered free changes 14 days before travel for anyone who needs to travel by the end of August.”
The UK’s largest independent travel agency, Hays Travel, advertises vacations to Orange List countries such as Greece on its website.
In a statement, the vacation company said, âHays Travel always follows government advice and we will only book vacations for our guests to approved destinations according to guidelines published by the FCDO.
âCertain orange destinations are permitted and in these cases we make sure our customers are fully informed of the best and latest advice so that they are aware of any requirements or restrictions of FCDO and the destination country.
“Flights or vacations to countries that are not currently permitted may appear on our website, but they cannot be booked online or over the phone for dates where restrictions are in place.”
What has the EU said about British holidaymakers?
Ambassadors have backed plans to allow vaccinated British holidaymakers to visit the bloc.
They recommended that the rules be changed to allow non-essential visits to the EU by people who have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, a spokeswoman for the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU said.
The policy will have to be approved by the ministers of the member states.
Britons can use an NHS app to view proof of their immunization status.