Britain wants to allow people to travel abroad again for a foreign holiday but new variants of the novel coronavirus are complicating plans to relax its rules, Environment Secretary George Eustice said.
Asked on Sky News if Brits would be able to enjoy a foreign holiday on Spanish islands this year amid speculation that restrictions on travel to Ibiza and Mallorca could be eased, Eustice said:
“Well, personally I want us to get back to a position where we can support those who want to travel to do so, nobody likes the draconian restrictions we’ve had to put in place over this last year.”
Transport minister Grant Shapps will publish an update on Thursday showing whether any other countries have been added to England’s green list for safe travel, Eustice said.
Malta and the Portuguese island of Madeira have also been touted as possible additions to the list.
Currently there are just 11 “green” destinations where people can go without having to quarantine on their return, effectively ensuring the travel industry stays shut despite the easing of lockdown domestically.
Those rules mean there has been no recovery for airlines and holiday companies which are already on their knees after nearly 18 months of COVID-19 restrictions.
A wider reopening of travel from the UK also faces a new challenge as European destinations could start to restrict Britons’ entry.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she would like other European countries to require people entering them from countries where there are high levels of the Delta variant, like Britain, to go into quarantine, as is the case in Germany.