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Boris Johnson hints at U-turn over amber watchlist

Boris Johnson hints at U-turn over amber watchlist
PM gets cold feet on new category after warnings it would add ‘confusion’ to travel rules

Boris Johnson has hinted his government will ditch a plan to add a new “amber watchlist” category to its Covid travel list – saying he wanted the traffic light system to stay “as simple and user friendly as possible”.

His government has been considering a new category to let travellers know which amber countries are at risk of turning red – but the idea has sparked a huge backlash from the travel industry, Labour and Tory backbenchers.

Junior government minister Matt Warman defended the idea earlier on Monday – claiming that a move away from three “cut-and-dried” categories to a wider “spectrum” need not be complicated or confusing.

But the prime minister later said he wanted to keep a simple, user-friendly system of rules, claiming he was keen to “get the travel industry moving again”.

Asked whether he back the idea of an amber watchlist, Johnson sa det til journalister: “I understand that people care very much about their holidays, people want to go abroad, I understand how much people plan, prepare, for the summer holidays.”

Han la til: “We have also got to remember this is still a dangerous virus and we must try and stop variants coming in, so we have to have a balanced approach … What I want to see is something that is as simple and as user-friendly for people as possible.”

Tory MP Henry Smith, the chairman of the all-party Future of Aviation Group, warned the government that adding an amber watchlist category would turn the traffic light system into a confusing “rainbow”.

He said adding more complexity to the system “will just put more people off from booking international travel and will mean that there isn’t an August of meaningful travel to save travel and aviation sector jobs”.

Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds also warned against creating “additional confusion and chaos” through a new watchlist category. “We’ve been here before, we’ve been in this chaos before, and yet government seems to be providing just more of the same, more confusion, more extra categories.”