A cabinet minister has defended the “cautious start” to reopening international holiday travel in the face of industry demands to expand the quarantine-free green list of foreign destinations.
Speaking to Sky News, Environment Secretary George Eustice acknowledged it was a “modest first step”, but said the line-up of approved countries would be regularly reviewed and as the global coronavirus situation improved more would be added.
Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel are among just 12 destinations which will be on the green list from 17 May when the ban on overseas leisure trips is lifted – with some countries featured still not accepting holidaymakers.
Holiday hotspots Spain, France, Italy and Greece have been added to the amber list – destinations which people are advised not to travel to, and from which arrivals must self-isolate at home for 10 days and take two post-arrival tests.
The industry has warned the government approach could hamper the recovery of the travel sector, which has borne the economic brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Couples, who do not live in qualifying countries, have also said they feel “forgotten” by the green list for travel.
But health experts have backed the limited steps taken by the government describing them as “sensible”.
Mr Eustice said: “This is a cautious start to try and loosen up travel. We have been cautious about loosening the restrictions throughout.”
Pointing out the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had made clear the list would be reviewed every three weeks, he added: “This is the initial list.
“I know it’s a modest first step.
“But it will be reviewed again in three weeks’ time and as the situation changes and improves more countries will be added to that green list.”
People returning to England from a green destination from 17 May…