Transport secretary Grant Shapps said this morning that people can start to think about booking foreign summer holidays as the government set out its framework for the resumption of international travel.
Recommendations by the Department for Transport's global travel taskforce said the individual risk of destination countries are set to be indicated by a traffic light system, while the government has also proposed that all travellers should undertake coronavirus testing and quarantine at their own expense.
“I’m not telling people that they shouldn’t book some holidays now, I think everybody doing it understands there are risks with coronavirus,” Shapps told Sky News.
“For the first time, people can start to think about visiting loved ones abroad, or perhaps a summer holiday, but we’re doing it very, very cautiously because we don’t want to see any return of coronavirus in this country.”
“What we’ve got today is a framework for doing that, so there’s a traffic light system you have been talking about – red, amber, green,” he told Sky News.
Under the proposed system, those travelling to and from a “green” country would be required to take a coronavirus test pre-departure and upon their return to the UK, which is estimated to cost around £120 per person, and would only have to quarantine should they test positive.
Those returning from “amber” countries would need to quarantine for 10 days upon their return, while those coming back from “red” countries will have to pay for a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel. The government has not confirmed if international travel will resume on 17 May, with today's recommendations from the DfT’s global travel taskforce intended to "show how international travel could resume from 17 May 2021 at the earliest".
Shapps said he understood that the cost of the test and quarantine is “definitely a concern” to some people, but said people had to “accept we're still going through a global pandemic”, adding that in the green category, the government will “try to make it as affordable as possible to travel”.
“But taking an abundance of caution as we go, because we don’t want to throw away all the good work of these lockdowns and people coming forward for vaccines by picking up variants of concern or anything else.”
However, John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport, questioned the necessity of the additional tests, describing it as “overkill”.
“The main concern is over the cost or some of the tests that are required, and whether they really are necessary, or whether they're just adding more checks on top of checks that already exist.”
Eleanor Langford is a reporter at PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared.