No more international travel changes for three weeks, says transport secretary

The transport secretary has said he cannot rule out adding major destinations like Spain and France to the red list for international travel

Speaking to media after last night’s traffic light list updates, Grant Shapps said the next set of travel changes will not come “for another three weeks”.

Labour said the government’s handling of changes to international travel restrictions has been “unforgiveable” although Shapps promised people will be able to go on holiday this summer “without looking over their shoulders the whole time”.

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Comment:Traffic light additions are too little too late

Asked by Sky News whether countries could move categories at short notice, Shapps said: “I think you know that with coronavirus… you can never say zero chance with coronavirus.

“But, having said that, the levels of vaccination and what we now know about the virus, what our scientists have been able to work out in the last year, means that people should be able to go away, enjoy their holidays without looking over their shoulders the whole time.

“And, as I say, the next set of changes are not for another three weeks.”

Shapps said the vaccine rollout has been “the big game changer” in allowing the further opening up of international travel, which the industry has said is not enough.

And he confirmed: “There aren’t any changes next week or the week after.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised the government’s “unforgiveable” handling of the coronavirus travel restrictions, such as France moving back to the amber list from the so-called ‘amber-plus’ list.

He said: “Anybody who has been trying to organise a holiday this summer has got their head in their hands because almost on a daily basis we’ve had a changing system, changing colours, U-turns left right and centre,” he told reporters during a visit to Scotland.

“We’ve been saying since the beginning of the summer – have a simplified system. We may be edging towards it, and I feel very strongly for those families and I hope that helps them going forward, but the big question I have for the government is why on earth have we had to go through this chaos to get there?”

He added: “What we’ve asked for is a simple understandable system that puts in place sensible controls for those that are going on holiday. That is something that could have been predicted six months ago. To have got here in the middle of August, or the early part of August, in this chaos, is pretty unforgiveable of this government”

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon added that ministers had “plunged the summer plans of thousands of families into chaos” with what he said was their “flip-flopping over France”.

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