Government adviser warns against holidaying abroad

Britons should be holidaying in the UK unless they have essential reasons to go abroad, Government adviser claims

  • Professor Stephen Reicher warned Brits against travelling abroad for holidays
  • As Covid is ‘raging’ around the world, it is more sensible to stay in the UK, he said
  • It comes as the Government is considering a new ‘amber watchlist’ 

Brits should holiday within the UK this summer and only travel abroad for essential reasons, a Government adviser said today.

Professor Stephen Reicher, a social psychologist who sits on a subgroup of SAGE, urged people to be ‘sensible and cautious’ when making getaway plans.

But he accepted that some may need to travel abroad for essential reasons, such as work, or to attend weddings and funerals. 

In a plea for people to consider staycations, he argued it’s ‘pretty hot at the moment and there’s lots of good places to go’.

As it stands, Britons can travel to green list countries as long as they take Covid tests before departure and two days after arriving back in the country.

Fully-vaccinated holidaymakers can follow the same rules for all amber list countries, while those who are unvaccinated must self-isolate for 10 days on return.  

It comes as the Government is considering making an ‘amber watchlist’, to identify countries at-risk of turning red. Spain, Greece and Italy are thought to be contenders for the list.

Any sudden move to No10’s red list would force hundreds of thousands of Britons to scramble for a to return to the UK, or face having to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1,750. 

Professor Reicher told Times Radio today that now, ‘is the time to be sensible and be cautious’ and holiday in the UK instead of abroad

Apart from the UK, Spain, France and Greece have some of the highest infection rates in Europe

There are currently three main categories in the Government’s international travel traffic light scheme: Red, amber and green. 

But there is also an ‘amber plus’ list and ministers are considering introducing an ‘amber watchlist’. 

Below is a breakdown of the rules for each category: 

Red: Travel to the UK from a red list country is banned for non-UK nationals. Brits returning must take a pre-departure test and book a 10 day stay in hotel quarantine at a cost of £1,750. 

Amber: A pre-departure test is required while non-vaccinated people have to quarantine for 10 days at home and book tests on day two and day 8. The fully-vaccinated do not have to quarantine but they do have to book a day two test. 

Amber Plus: A new category which currently only includes France. It means everyone returning from the country, including the fully-vaccinated, must quarantine at home for 10 days and take tests on day two and day eight.

Amber Watchlist: Ministers are considering introducing the category to highlight countries which are amber but at imminent risk of turning red.     

Green: Returning travellers must take a pre-departure test and book a day two test as well. Quarantine is not required for anyone unless the test is positive.  

Professor Reicher, from the University of St Andrews, told Times Radio: ‘There are reasons why people need to travel and I can recognise that. 

‘They need to travel sometimes for work, people need to travel for family reasons. If there is a marriage, or much worse of course, if there is a funeral, people do need to travel, so there’s reasons for travel. 

‘But I think, by and large, I think the message should be, unless you need to travel, this year, it’s far more sensible, both for public health but also so you yourself don’t get disrupted.

‘Because things change very quickly, one of the things we know about this pandemic is while a week might be a long time in politics, it’s a huge time in the pandemic and you can find the situation in a country changing.’

He added: ‘I would say by and large, holiday in the UK. 

‘It’s pretty hot at the moment and there’s lots of good places to go, so I think we should be clear in saying look, just right now, for now, with one in 65 people in the UK being infected, with the pandemic raging around the world, now is the time to be sensible and be cautious. 

‘But as I say, most people understand that. 

‘Things are going well because of personal responsibility, they would be going still better if there was a partnership and the Government showed the same level of responsibility in helping us to do the right thing.’

Meanwhile, the Government is considering adding a new tier to the travel traffic light system. 

Ministers are under mounting pressure not to go ahead with the move with Tory MPs warning it could cause a massive collapse in bookings, further decimating the beleaguered aviation sector.

Many Conservative MPs believe the red, amber and green system is now far too complicated and are demanding it be simplified.

But Digital Minister Matt Warman dismissed the concerns this morning as he said the system works fine as long as people ‘apply their common sense’.

He did not rule out introducing the new amber watchlist category, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps due to provide an update on travel rules on Thursday this week.

Moving a country from amber to red at a moment’s notice would force returning travellers to undertake a costly stay in mandatory hotel quarantine. A beach in Tarragona, Spain, is pictured last month

Tory MPs fear that formally creating the new amber watchlist would prompt a massive collapse in bookings to holiday hotspots like Greece

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