COVID-19: Thousands of UK tourists go abroad – some ignore advice to avoid Amber List countries

COVID-19: Thousands of UK tourists go abroad – some ignore advice to avoid Amber List countries

Thousands of UK holidaymakers have started to leave the country – some heading to Orange List destinations – as the ban on overseas leisure travel is lifted in England, Wales and the major part of Scotland.

Travel agencies have reported an increase in demand for travel to Portugal, after the government put them on its green list – meaning travelers won’t need to self-isolate on their return and will have to take that after arrival. COVID-19[feminine[feminine test.

However, some passengers taking flights from Gatwick Airport on Monday morning were heading to Orange List destinations – despite warnings from ministers against travel to Orange and Red List destinations.

Some companies and organizations have banned staff from traveling to Amber and Red List countries, according to Sky News.

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Portugal prepares to welcome British tourists
Leisure stays abroad in Green List countries allowed from today under new guidelines in England, Scotland and Wales

Nathan Priestley, 31, from Wokingham in Berkshire, was traveling to Orange List Corfu with five friends.

When asked if he did not want to be quarantined after returning to England from the Greek island, he replied: “For me, I am working from home at the moment, so it is neither. here or there. “

The software vendor said he had no health concerns about his trip when asked, replying, “I’m still pretty young and pretty active. I had nothing wrong with me, nothing underlying, so for me test negative and off you go. “

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Times Radio on Sunday: “The Red and Orange List countries are places you shouldn’t go unless you have an absolutely compelling reason. “

Restaurant manager Amanda Brown said she was “so excited” to go to Faro in Portugal to reunite with her boyfriend after eight months apart and six flight cancellations, as she boarded the first one. Green List flight departing from Gatwick Airport.

“I didn’t sleep well last night – so yeah, it’s amazing, I love it – it’s really good to see everything come back to some kind of normalcy,” she said.

On the testing process, she added: “There is a bit of anxiety about the build-up because obviously you have to take a test before you go, it was a little anxious to wait for the result. come back. “

The first vacationers flew to the countries on the green list, including Portugal. after the lifting of the ban on leisure travel

How the new traffic light system works:

• Green List: This includes Portugal, Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, as well as several small remote islands which are British overseas territories. . Travelers returning from one of these countries do not need to quarantine and will only need to take one test after arrival.

• Orange List: covers the UK’s most popular holiday destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Greece. Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said, “You shouldn’t be going to these places right now.” Those who go against these guidelines must take two tests after arrival and must also self-isolate at home for 10 days, although they can reduce this timeframe if they pass an additional negative test on the next day. fifth day.

• Red List: Brazil, India, South Africa, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Maldives are among the countries on this list. Those returning from a Red List country must stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £ 1,750.

Passengers prepare to board an easyJet flight to Faro, Portugal at Gatwick Airport
Passengers prepare to board an easyJet flight to Faro, Portugal at Gatwick Airport
Passengers prepare to board an easyJet flight to Faro, Portugal, at Gatwick
Passenger queue for check-in counters in the departures area of ​​Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London
Passenger queue for check-in counters in the departures area of ​​Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye told Sky News the airport was relatively ‘quiet’ on Monday morning, and ‘few people are taking advantage of the changes’, but said it was the start’ for return to normal ”.

He said he hoped to see the Green List expand within the next month or so and said the United States and the Caribbean had similar characteristics to Portugal and that there was “no reason so that they are not open this month ”.

“Likewise, Greece and Spain, we should see coming on the green list,” he said, and urged the government to publish a list of the countries they plan to be added to the list. so people can book their vacations ‘with confidence’ and ‘know where they are’.

British Airways boss Sean Doyle at Heathrow told Sky’s Ian King Live: “We have around 79 flights today. If I compare that with the same day two years ago, we would have done over 800 flights. “

EasyJet has added 105,000 more seats to its flights serving Green List destinations, while TUI has said it will use planes that normally operate long-haul routes to cope with increased bookings to Portugal.

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Charlie Cornish, managing director of Manchester Airports Group, which owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports, described the relaxation of the rules as “a symbolic moment after the most difficult year in our history”.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said Sky’s Ian King Live bookings had tripled in the past six weeks with “very strong flows from UK to Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece for June, July and August ”.

He said: “There is uncertainty, but it’s more short-term… people are looking beyond that. Italy and Greece are on the orange list. There is an expectation, I think within the industry, that they will be added to the green. list before the end of May, Spain maybe a little later, but it will get there by the end of June.

‘So by the time the UK school holidays arrive I think people are, in my opinion, rightly booking vacations in June, July and August knowing that they will be vaccinated. or that there won’t be a lot of restrictions. on them on their return to the UK. “

He said he had been “very critical of the UK government in its handling of COVID” but “laudatory too” and praised the rollout of an “extraordinarily successful” vaccine.

Sky’s Michelle Clifford said taxi drivers at Faro Airport in Portugal’s Algarve were expecting a busy day, with around 20 flights due to arrive with British holidaymakers on board.

“Those who work in the Algarve tourism industry are thrilled,” she said. “The region suffered a lot last year. The British are the biggest market and their absences have hit hotels, restaurants and bars hard. The hope is that from today things will improve. “

Among the first tourists to arrive were Frazer and Peter.

Frazer told Clifford: “It’s amazing… it’s so good to get a feel for what it’s like to be far away, and nice to have some sun. I missed it – a lot of the time.

“I come here regularly every year, twice a year, so it was like a last minute thing… on the moon to be here. Love this place, ”added Peter.

Airlines and tour operators have called for quarantine and testing requirements to be relaxed and more destinations to be added to the green list.

However, medical experts have warned that there are “large swathes of Europe that are largely unvaccinated” and are therefore “quite vulnerable to new variants, whether Indian or not, sweeping the continent.”

Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, told Times Radio: “We are not on top of this in the world at all yet, we are still climbing the mountain. So people steal and come back with whatever local variant they come across, that’s not a good idea in my opinion. ”

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Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, added that the variant first identified in India could be transmitted by people traveling outside the UK.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “Britain is a very small, very connected country and the risk of local cases becoming regional and then regional becoming national is very clear.

“And it’s also connected internationally and I think it’s also a problem not only for importing new variants entering the country, but also for people traveling out of the country – there is a risk that this variant B.617 can be transmitted from You know. “

The government is set to update its list of travelers at traffic lights on June 7 and has announced that it will review its general policy regarding the arrival of travelers on June 28.

Most of Scotland have adopted Level 2 restrictions as of today, which means international travel is permitted following a traffic light system similar to that of England and Wales . However, Glasgow and Moray remain at level 3, which means international travel is not allowed.

Non-essential travel from Northern Ireland to the Common Travel Area – which includes the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man – is permitted from May 24.


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