The prime minister has ruled out legislation to stop travel to amber list destinations but underlined the “don’t holiday” message in parliament.
Boris Johnson responded to claims he had “lost control of the message” about amber list countries following contradictory statements by ministers in the last 24 hours.
Addressing Labour leader Keir Starmer during Prime Minister’s Questions, Johnson said: “We are trying to move away from endlessly legislating for everything.”
Starmer criticised the government for moving 170 countries to the amber list on Monday, saying this increased the risk of importation of Covid variants.
“Having moved 170 countries to the amber list, absolute clarity is needed about the circumstances under which people can travel,” he said.
However, mixed messages yesterday had confused the public, with one minister suggesting some might think a holiday was “essential” travel.
Starmer asked the prime minister: “The government has lost control of the messaging. If he does not want people to travel to amber list countries, why has he made it easier for them to do so?
Johnson said new laws were not the answer and that the government wanted to “rely on guidance and asking people to do the right thing”.
“It is very clear, you should not be going to an amber list country except for some extreme circumstances such as the serious illness of a family member,” Johnson said.
“You should not be going to an amber list country on holiday.”
Starmer replied: “Since the government loosened travel restrictions, 150 flights a day are going to amber list countries and travel agents are reporting surges in holiday bookings to those countries. It isn’t just a coincidence, it’s because of the messaging.”
Johnson accused Labour of wanting “to pause all travel”.