Health Secretary Matt Hancock has advised British holidaymakers against visiting ‘amber list’ destinations, as lockdown restrictions ease significantly today.
From today, 12 countries will become available for leisurely travel without isolating on return. These are defined as ‘green list’ countries.
However, holiday hotspots that UK tourists usually travel to for summer sun - including Spain, Greece, Italy and France - remain on the amber list.
Brits can travel to these destinations, however, they will need to quarantine for 10 days and have two negative Covid tests - one on day two and the other on day eight of quarantine.
They will also be required to complete a passenger locator form and test negative for Covid before arriving back into the UK.
‘Unless it’s absolutely necessary’
In spite of being able to visit amber list countries, Hancock said people should “certainly not” travel to these tourist hot spots, through fear of catching mutant strains of Covid.
He told Times Radio: "People should not travel to amber or red list countries unless it’s absolutely necessary, and certainly not for holiday purposes."
He added that countries in the red list were only to be visited for essential, non-avoidable purposes.
“The red and amber list countries are places that you shouldn’t go to unless you have an absolutely compelling reason,” he said.
‘Vulnerable to new variants’
Professor John Bell, a member of the government’s vaccine task force, reportedly also warned that visiting Europe was risky as many countries on the continent remain “largely unvaccinated” and “vulnerable to new variants.”
Hancock’s advice to steer clear of amber list countries comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to use a "heavy dose of caution" when hugging their families, visiting the pub and travelling abroad.
In a statement on Sunday 16 May, as the country prepared for a significant relaxation of Covid restrictions, Johnson said: “Together we have reached another milestone in our roadmap out of lockdown, but we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution.
"We are keeping the spread of the variant first identified in India under close observation and taking swift action where infection rates are rising.
‘Now everyone must play their part’
"The current data does not indicate unsustainable pressure on the NHS and our extraordinary vaccination programme will accelerate - with second doses being bought forward to give the most vulnerable maximum protection.
"But now everyone must play their part - by getting tested twice a week, coming forward for your vaccine when called and remembering hands, face, space and fresh air.”
On 16 May, Hancock also warned that if people do not exercise caution and use their own judgement when meeting up with larger groups, new variants such as the Indian strain could “spread like wildfire”.