Katy Balls

Boris clamps down on foreign travel over Covid variant fears

Boris clamps down on foreign travel over Covid variant fears
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Those hoping for a holiday abroad this summer were dealt a blow this afternoon with the announcement of the government's travel list update. A few weeks ago, there had been talk that this would be the moment that more tourist-friendly countries would be added to the green list which allows for quarantine-free travel. Instead, the opposite has happened.

Not a single country was added to the green list, while Portugal – one of the few countries on the list accepting UK tourists – was moved to amber. This means Brits travelling back from Portugal from 4am on Tuesday face quarantine on return. 

Meanwhile, seven countries were added to the red list, resulting in hotel quarantine for 11 nights. The affected countries are: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Trinidad & Tobago. 

As one official puts it: 

'The direction of travel is only in one direction right now'.

Little surprise then that the travel industry is seeing red. Chief executive of EasyJet, Johan Lundgren, has described the update as a 'huge blow' to travellers. He also questioned why Portugal has been moved when its rates are similar to those in the UK. 

As for the politics of this, the move in the short term, at least, will be welcomed by ministers and many Tory MPs.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has long been an advocate of tighter border restrictions on the premise that it could mean greater domestic freedoms. The arrival of the Indian variant – which several scientific advisers have warned could derail the roadmap – appears to have brought the Prime Minister around to this way of thinking.

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor.

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