Publish data behind holiday rules, ministers said

Ministers ordered by UK statistics watchdog to release data justifying decisions to move countries to orange or red status for overseas travel










Ministers have been tasked by Britain’s statistics watchdog to reveal the data justifying decisions to move countries to orange or red status for overseas travel.

Holiday bosses were outraged last month when France was given ‘amber plus’ status – meaning fully vaccinated travelers will still have to quarantine if they return to the UK.

There are now fears that ministers will put European hotspots on a new ‘amber watch list’, which could put them directly on the red list. Families would then undergo mandatory hotel quarantine on their return at a cost of £1,750 per person.

Confusion: Holiday bosses were outraged last month when France was granted ‘amber plus’ status

Mary Gregory, of the Office for Statistics Regulation, said the government has “failed to clarify” what data made an informed decision about France’s status.

In a letter to the Joint Biosecurity Center (JBC), which advises the government on Covid measures, Gregory said there was also confusion about how data on cases of the South African beta variant in France were analyzed. Gregory wrote: “The lack of clear signage to data sources… does not meet our expectations in terms of transparency. In the future, we would like to see important information more clearly signposted and published more quickly.’

Manchester Airports Group, backed by major airlines including Ryanair, EasyJet and British Airways owner IAG, sued the government in June over a lack of transparency over its decisions to rate countries red, green or orange.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government. The airport is appealing. Chief executive Charlie Cornish said: ‘The confusion surrounding France’s amber-plus status is yet another example of the problems caused by the government’s refusal to be open and transparent about traffic light decisions.

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