UK holidaymakers told to stay at home this summer in blow to expanded green list

Environment Secretary George Eustice warns against the risks of foreign travel

Sunseekers enjoy the hot weather on Brighton beach. Reuters 
Sunseekers enjoy the hot weather on Brighton beach. Reuters 

People in the UK should not travel overseas unless absolutely necessary, a UK Cabinet minister has said.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said on Tuesday the British public should “holiday at home” and visit the “great places” in the UK.

The remarks came after Portugal was moved to the amber list at 4am UK time on Tuesday, leaving just 11 countries and territories on the quarantine-free green list.

Several green list countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, are not accepting visitors from Britain.

Mr Eustice said people must be aware of the risks involved with travelling overseas.

"I will be staying at home. I have no intention of travelling or going on a holiday abroad this summer," he said.

"Some people may, but they have to understand that there are obviously risks in doing so because it is a dynamic situation. But I think most people will probably decide this year to stay at home, holiday at home."

Asked whether he is advising people to stay in the UK, Mr Eustice said: "My advice to people would be holiday at home.

"We've got some great places here, there aren't many places that are on that list.”

British holidaymakers rushed to get home from Portugal on Monday before the country was axed from the green list.

Airlines put on dozens of extra flights to meet the demand.

The final commercial flight from Portugal to the UK was a WizzAir flight from Faro to Doncaster Sheffield Airport, landing at 2.58am - leaving little over an hour before the deadline.

Those who arrived after the deadline will have to quarantine at home for 10 days and take several Covid-19 tests.

More countries were added to the UK’s red list, including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago and Sri Lanka.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Sunday criticised Britain's decision, saying it was "not justified" and had caused "serious harm" to both British tourists and his country's economy.

Anger was also brewing in Malta, a small Mediterranean island heavily reliant on British tourists.

Maltese Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo accused the UK government of ignoring scientific advice on the green list.

He suggested UK ministers did not want its citizens to go abroad due to growing concerns over coronavirus cases at home.

"The (British government) is ignoring scientific advice. It has taken a political decision not to allow travel anywhere, despite the pressure it faces from airlines, tourism operators and the people in general," he said on Facebook.

Malta on Monday reported no new Covid-19 cases for the first time in 11 months. Half of its adult population has been fully vaccinated and 75 per cent have received a first dose of a vaccine - the highest rate in the EU.

On May 17 Portugal had been the only EU country put on Britain's green list of countries, where returning travellers were exempt from quarantine.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Monday defended the strict rules as necessary to protect the country from imported cases of coronavirus.

Coronavirus in the UK - in pictures

Published: June 8, 2021 12:19 PM


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