Confusion as minister says travel is allowed to ‘amber’ list countries to ‘visit friends’

Confusion as minister says travel is allowed to ‘amber’ list countries to ‘visit friends’
George Eustice contradicts Matt Hancock – who said an ‘absolutely compelling reason’ is required

Britons can travel to ‘amber’ list countries to “visit friends”, a Cabinet minister says – just days after a colleague said holidays are still not allowed.

George Eustice stoked further confusion about the travel rules, which have replaced an outright ban with instructions not to go to all but a handful of popular destinations.

At the weekend, the health secretary Matt Hancock said: “The red and amber list countries are places that you shouldn’t go to unless you have an absolutely compelling reason.”

But, on Monday, thousands of people flew out of Britain on up to 150 flights to amber list sunspots such as Greece, France, Spain and Italy.

Asked about the apparent muddle, Mr Eustice, the environment secretary, said the amber list was for people who “feel they need to travel either to visit family or friends”.

“They can travel to those countries but they then have to observe quarantine when they return and have two tests after returning,” he told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.

“People can travel to those areas but they then have to subject themselves to the quarantine requirements.”

The first air passengers enjoying the lifting of the travel ban also faced border queues of up to three hours at Heathrow passport control, some said.

Some travellers told of being forced to stand side by side with arrivals from India – one of the UK’s red list destinations and the source of the variant behind a surge in infections.

The overcrowding was partly blamed on a shortage of Border Force officials, despite repeated pleas from airlines and airports for more staff to prevent long queues.

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