Hancock fuming at ‘totally irresponsible’ airlines for extra flights to amber countries

Travel: Government 'fuming' over extra flights says Watt

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Matt Hancock is said to be furious with the UK’s travel industry for arranging extra flights to countries on the Government’s amber travel restrictions list amid a rise in cases of the Indian variant. BBC Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt said on the programme that ministers were wary of increased numbers of flights to countries with high cases of coronavirus, as they were “highly cautious” about the rise of the new COVIC-19 variant from India.


He said: “I’m picking up real irritation with the travel industry. I’m hearing words from ministers like ‘totally irresponsible’ of airlines to be putting on extra flights to the so-called amber countries.” 

“These are the countries that technically, legally you can travel to but you have to self-isolate in your home on your return, and you need a test before, after, and during the visit.”

Mr Watt went on to question the clarity of Government guidance on travelling to amber list countries, as although Brits are permitted to travel to these areas under current restrictions, they are being advised not to.

He asked: “Have ministers communicated that well? Matt Hancock in the House of Commons was very clear today saying ‘no, you cannot go to those amber countries.”

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“But that was an answer to a question from his predecessor as Health Secretary saying ‘it all sounds a bit ambiguous, can we have some clarity on that?’”

Mr Watt went on: “The criticism of ministers is if you can’t go to the amber countries, why isn’t it still illegal?”

The BBC reporter was referring to an exchange between Health Secretary Matt Hancock and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in Parliament.

Seeking to clarify the rules on Brits travelling abroad, Hunt asked Hancock:  “Should my constituents go on holiday to countries on that amber list even when it is no longer illegal?”

“The answer is no,” Hancock replied. “The official government advice is very clear that people should not travel to amber or red list countries or territories. People should not travel to amber list countries for a holiday.”

“If it isn’t on the green list, unless you have an exceptional reason, you shouldn’t be travelling there.”

Brits have been able to travel abroad since UK restrictions on travelling overseas were eased on May 17. 

Holidaymakers are allowed to travel to the 12 countries on the government’s green list, including Portugal, Australia, and Israel. 

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Although Brits are still legally permitted to travel to amber list countries such as Spain, France, and the USA, ministers are strongly urging people to stick to the government guidelines.

Meanwhile, 43 countries including India, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates, remain on the much stricter red list. 

Passengers arriving from red list countries must quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 days upon arrival

Those arriving in the UK from amber countries may return home, but must self-isolate for at least 10 days. 

Those travelling from a green list country to the UK do not need to isolate, but will need to provide proof of a negative Covid test within two days of arrival.
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