Boris cans ‘confusing’ amber watchlist & says travel rules should be ‘simple’

RATTLED Boris Johnson yesterday canned plans for a confusing new amber watchlist travel tier after flak from industry experts, airlines and MPs.

The PM said he hoped to make holiday advice “as simple as possible” for Brits heading abroad.

🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates

3

Boris Johnson has scrapped plans for a new ‘amber watchlist’ of countriesCredit: EPA

3

There had been fears Spain would have been added to the proposed listCredit: Getty – Contributor

Officials had been pushing for a new layer to be added to the red, amber and green system to give holiday makers warning that their destination could soon go red – but critics said it would be too complicated.

The boost to travel plans comes as it was revealed the NHS Covid app is at last being watered down so fewer people are “pinged” and sent into self isolation.

Only those in contact with a Covid case two days prior will be told to stay at home, compared to the current five days, the Government announced

The PM’s intervention came hours after ministers hinted they could divide the globe into a chaotic spectrum of Covid categories.

PM SCRAPS AMBER WATCHLIST

That idea riled his own MPs and even some Cabinet ministers.

So, in a stark change of tone, Mr Johnson publicly called for the system to be user-friendly. Insiders said the original three tier traffic light system was preferable.

The move means the amber plus sub-category will also probably go, with France returning to amber.

Mr Johnson said: “I obviously understand that people care very much about holidays. People want to go abroad.

“I understand how much people plan, prepare, for the summer holidays.

3

“But we’ve also got to remember that it’s still a dangerous virus.

“We must stop importing variants from abroad and we have to have a balanced approach. What I want to see is something that is as simple and as user- friendly for people as possible.”

Just hours earlier a minister had insisted that travel rules were not too complex as he hinted the traffic  light system could even be split into six levels.

Junior minister Matt Warman defended the “spectrum of countries going green  to red”, saying: “I do not accept that it’s complicated.”

But MPs said the Government had risked creating travel havoc.

We must stop importing variants from abroad and we have to have a balanced approach. What I want to see is something that is as simple and as user- friendly for people as possible

Boris Johnson

Tory Henry Smith said: “If you add extra layers in a traffic light so it becomes almost like a rainbow, it just creates confusion which is unnecessary.”

Last night, holiday operators and airlines welcomed the Prime Minister stepping in.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, which represents BA, easyJet and Ryanair, said the decision would be a victory for common sense.

He added: “The PM has hit the nail on the head.

“People want a clear and consistent travel system that they can understand and that is workable.

“The PM has hit the nail on the head – people want a clear and consistent travel system that they can understand and that is workable.”

Tim Alderslade, Airlines UK

“We now need to go further and set our sights on the real prize this week — getting more countries on to that green list before it’s too late.” 

Meanwhile, travel expert Paul Charles called for more warning for the industry and tourists if a country was about to change status.

He said: “While it is encouraging to see the Government saying they will make the system simpler, they also need to guarantee countries won’t change colour with less than a week’s notice — as they previously promised.

“There is a lot more that needs to be done before confidence is restored for consumers wanting to get away.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had been pushing for the amber watchlist to be shelved while Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the PM rules were out of step with our international competitors and were hurting the economy.

Yesterday, double-jabbed passengers from the US, the EU or Switzerland were able to enter the UK without having to quarantine.

They will still need to take a pre-departure test and a gold standard PCR test on or before the second day after they arrive in England.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said he wanted ministers to relax the rules on testing.

He went on: “We need to get rid of the requirement for everyone to have a PCR test and replace it with a cheaper, simpler lateral flow test and only use the PCR test if people test positive.”

Brits hit by huge queues at Heathrow Airport AGAIN due to staff shortages and broken e-gates