Boris Johnson’s government is “increasingly confident” that more countries can soon be added to England’s amber and green travel lists, a senior minister has said.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said he hoped more international travel links could soon be opened up for British holidaymakers, as other countries speed up their vaccine roll-out.
“We’ve done the job we had to do domestically and as we see other countries catch up if you like, I think we are increasingly confident that more countries will go either onto amber or onto green,” Mr Raab told Sky News on Thursday.
The cabinet minister said holidaymakers would have to wait until next week to see if any changes were made to the traffic light system, but he added: “The momentum forward is positive”.
The government is considering whether to move France from the “amber plus” list, for which double-vaccinated travellers still have to quarantine, back onto the amber list, according to reports.
But Mr Raab said no final decision would be made until next week. “No one wants to get France onto the amber list or the green list more than I do – but I think it’s right to take evidence from the experts about the variants and the risks that they pose,” he said.
He told LBC: “As someone who wants to go on holiday, as someone who’s got lots of businesses in my constituency that want to travel for commercial purposes, we want to get out of the travel restrictions as soon as possible.”
The cabinet minister refused to rule out the possibility there could be tougher rules for Spain, amid reports it could be moved to the amber plus list next week.
Asked what holidaymakers thinking about booking a trip to Spain should do, Mr Raab said: “You’ll have to judge it on the traffic light system we’ve got in place right now.”
The foreign secretary also defended the government’s decision to allow fully-vaccinated tourists from the US and EU into the UK without quarantine from Monday – claiming there was the “right level of security and assurance”.
But Mr Raab admitted that US and EU travellers may try to show fake vaccine certificates.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We can’t guarantee that some people might not do it. I think it is highly unlikely.”
The foreign secretary added: “The point here is that, with both the European countries and the US, we are talking about high-trust countries with whom we have not just an intuitive level of high trust, we have active co-operation.
“So we know that we can straighten out any discrepancies we might come across pretty quickly.”
He revealed he had been contacted by his counterparts in other countries after Wednesday’s announcement that restrictions on travellers from the US and EU were being lifted.
“Overnight I’ve had foreign ministers messaging me to say, ‘We’ve noticed the [US-EU] announcement: what can we do to do this on a reciprocal basis?’,” he told Sky News.
Mr Raab said the government was keen to set up travel corridors with other “high-trust” countries.
“The key thing about the EU countries and the US, they are countries where we’ve got high trust in the mechanisms for verifying double vaccination – those are the kinds of countries we’d want to pursue.”
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Wednesday that he hoped the US and other countries would drop their ban on UK travellers “in time”, having spoken to his American counterpart, Pete Buttigieg.
Mr Shapps said: “We can’t change that on the other side but we do expect that in time they will release that executive order, which was actually signed by the previous president, and bans inward travel.”
Despite the diplomatic pressure to create a travel corridor, unnamed aviation industry sources told The Telegraph that the US may not reverse its overseas travel ban until September.
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