Virgin Atlantic chief Shai Weiss has blasted the government’s omission of the US from the UK’s new-look green list, claiming the country meets the government’s own criteria for making the list.
Weiss’s comments came after transport secretary Grant Shapps belatedly confirmed the addition of 16 countries and territories to the UK’s green list at around 7.30pm on Thursday (24 June) after the Northern Ireland Executive stole his thunder by announcing it an hour earlier.
Additions include Spain’s Balearic Islands, Malta, Madeira and a handful of Caribbean destinations.
Virgin chief Weiss said it was now vital that the UK government eased its quarantine rules for fully vaccinated arrivals from green and amber list countries "no later than the domestic reopening on 19 July", or risk falling further behind the EU.
"It’s a constructive step that the government has recognised Antigua, Barbados and Grenada can be classified as green," said Weiss. "However, today’s announcement fails to go far enough.
"The government’s own evidence shows the US is low risk and should be added to the green list now. We urge the UK government to move the US to the UK’s green list, and for the Biden administration to repeal the 212F proclamation for UK travellers."
Weiss added: "Successful vaccination programmes are key to unlocking international travel.
"The government must now remove quarantine for fully vaccinated passengers returning from both amber and green countries, no later than the domestic reopening on the 19 July.
"The UK has already fallen behind the EU’s reopening and a continued overly cautious approach will further impact economic recovery and the 500,000 UK jobs that are at stake.”