Health minister Lord Bethell has told the House of Lords people should not attempt to travel this year – particularly over the summer months – sparking widespread criticism throughout the travel sector.
Addressing the Lords on Tuesday, Bethell remarked on the importance of having an international travel red list, and the logistical difficulties segregating passengers arriving from countries in different traffic light categories at airports.
"That is why travelling is dangerous, why we tell people not to travel and why, when people do travel, we tell them to isolate," said Bethell.
"Travelling is dangerous, and that is not news to us or to the people who get on those planes in the first place. The ultimate sanction here is that, particularly as we go into the summer, we tell people: ‘Travelling is not for this year. Please stay in this country’."
Bethell’s comments come just two days after the government lifted restrictions on non-essential international travel, based on the recommendations of the Global Travel Taskforce.
The taskforce was instructed to assess how international travel could be restarted safely and robustly, and came back with a traffic light system setting out three tiers of rules for arrivals.
Travel to all three tiers isn’t illegal, but the government is discouraging travel to amber and red list destinations; some airlines and operators are, however, offering flights and holidays to amber list destinations owing to the disparity between the lists and the Foreign Office’s travel advice.
For instance, the FCDO is not advising against all but essential travel to the Canary Islands and some Greek islands, despite both being on the amber list. Operators have taken the stance that the key marker for whether people should travel or not is the FCDO advice, with it being up to individual travellers to asset whether they are able to quarantine on return and pay for the necessary testing.