Government ‘not intending to open up travel to Europe or US before end of July’

Paul Charles, from travel consultancy The PC Agency, claimed decisions on travel restrictions were ‘highly political, not based on data at all’.

Government ‘not intending to open up travel to Europe or US before end of July’

Quarantine-free travel to the UK from mainland Europe or the US will not be permitted before late July, an industry expert has warned.

The reopening of travel had been “sacrificed by ministers watching their backs”, Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said.

Mr Charles was among leading figures in the sector who expressed outrage when Portugal was moved to the amber list last week, as it meant no viable major tourist destination was in the green tier.

Portugal and other countries such as Malta, Morocco and Grenada should be on the green list but decisions on restrictions were “highly political, not based on data at all”, Mr Charles claimed.

People arriving in the UK from a green tier country are not required to self-isolate, while amber arrivals must quarantine at home for 10 days.

There were hopes that destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and the US would be added to the green list ahead of the peak summer holiday season.

He continued: “Ministers have fallen into line to protect their future careers and potentially benefit from an upcoming Cabinet reshuffle. And that means sacrificing the early opening of the overseas travel sector.

“Now thousands of jobs are at risk – as are some airlines and travel firms – because June and July will be lost in travel terms.”

Mr Charles said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson were “in favour of opening up travel sooner”, but were “over-ruled” by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.

He added: “Buoyed by opinion polling, they have now all united to focus on reopening the UK by mid-July, once the vaccine rollout has reached 18-year-olds and above, and eradicating the Delta variant which originated in India.

“Once the UK has opened up almost completely, then overseas travel will be back on the agenda for the end of July.”

The Department for Transport is reviewing the travel lists every three weeks, which suggests the next changes will be announced on June 24.

It previously said assessments would be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a population that had been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

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