Britons should holiday in the UK this summer and travel abroad only for essential reasons, a government adviser said today.
Professor Stephen Reicher, a social psychologist who is part of a subgroup of SAGE, urged people to be “sensible and careful” when making flight plans.
But he accepted that some may have to travel abroad for essential reasons, such as work, or to attend weddings and funerals.
Calling for people to consider staycations, he argued that it’s “pretty warm right now and there are a lot of good places to go.”
As it stands, Britons can travel to green-listed countries as long as they undergo Covid testing before departure and two days after arriving in the country.
Fully vaccinated holidaymakers can follow the same rules for all countries on the amber list, while those who have not been vaccinated must self-isolate for 10 days on return.
It comes as the government is considering creating an “amber watch list” to identify countries at risk of going red. Spain, Greece and Italy would be contenders for the list.
Any sudden shift to the number 10 red list would force hundreds of thousands of Britons to fight for a return to the UK, or spend 10 days in a hotel quarantine for £1,750.
Professor Reicher told Times Radio today that now is the time to be sensible, careful and holiday in the UK rather than abroad
Aside from the UK, Spain, France and Greece have some of the highest infection rates in Europe
What are the current traffic light rules and how would an ‘amber watchlist’ work?
There are currently three main categories in the government’s international traffic light scheme: red, orange and green.
But there is also an ‘amber plus’ list and ministers are considering introducing an ‘amber watch list’.
Below you will find an overview of the rules per category:
red: Traveling to the UK from a Red List country is prohibited for non-UK nationals. Returning Brits will be required to take a pre-departure test and book a 10-day hotel quarantine stay for £1,750.
Amber: A pre-departure test is required while unvaccinated people are required to self-quarantine for 10 days at home and book tests on day two and day 8. Fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine, but they do need to book a day two test.
Amber Plus: A new category that currently only includes France. It means that anyone returning from the country, including the fully vaccinated, will have to quarantine at home for 10 days and undergo tests on day two and day eight.
Amber watchlist: Ministers consider introducing the category to highlight countries that are orange but are at risk of turning red.
Vegetable: Returning travelers must take a pre-departure test and also book a day two test. Quarantine is not mandatory for anyone unless the test is positive.
Professor Reicher, from the University of St Andrews, told Times Radio: ‘There are reasons why people need to travel and I can recognize that.
“They sometimes have to travel for work, people have to travel for family reasons. If there is a wedding, or much worse of course, if there is a funeral, people have to travel, so there are reasons to travel.
“But in general I think the message should be unless you have to travel it’s much more sensible this year, both for public health and not to be disturbed yourself.”
“Because things change very quickly, one of the things we know about this pandemic is, while a week in politics might be a long time, it’s a huge time in the pandemic and you can see the situation in a country is changing.” .’
He added: ‘In general I would say holiday in the UK.
“It’s quite warm at the moment and there are lots of good places to go so I think we should be clear by saying look, right now, for now, with one in 65 people in the UK being infected.” As the pandemic rages around the world, now is the time to be sensible and careful.
“But like I said, most people understand that.
“It’s going well because of personal responsibility, it would be even better if there was a partnership and the government showed the same level of responsibility to help us do the right thing.”
Meanwhile, the government is considering adding a new level to the travel traffic light system.
Ministers are under mounting pressure not to go through with the move, with Tory MPs warning it could cause a massive collapse in bookings, further decimating the beleaguered aviation sector.
Many Conservative MPs believe that the red, orange and green system is now far too complicated and demand that it be simplified.
But Digital Affairs Secretary Matt Warman dismissed the concerns this morning, saying the system will work just fine as long as people “apply their common sense.”
He didn’t rule out the introduction of the new orange watchlist category, with transportation secretary Grant Shapps set to provide an update on travel rules this Thursday.
Moving a country from orange to red in the blink of an eye would force returning travelers to undertake a costly stay in mandatory hotel quarantine. Last month, a beach in Tarragona, Spain, was pictured
Tory MPs fear formally creating the new orange watchlist would lead to a massive slump in bookings for holiday hotspots like Greece