Chancellor Piles Pressure On PM To Relax Travel Rules In A Bid To Boost Summer Economy
Boris Johnson is under pressure from Rishi Sunak to relax foreign travel rules amid fears that current restrictions could be damaging the economy.
The Sunday Times reports that the chancellor has written to Johnson warning that the UK’s “draconian” rules were “out of step with our international competitors”.
Cabinet is set to meet this week to discuss the next update to the rules, expected Thursday, as ministers mull introducing an “amber watch list” of countries which could move to the red list with minimal warning.
Popular destinations such as Greece, Spain and Italy are among places that could go onto the new list under plans agreed in principle by officials last week.
It is expected that up to 12 countries will move from the green to the amber list next week, while France could move off the “amber plus” list meaning those who are fully vaccinated would no longer need to isolate on arrival to the UK.
Under current rules, Brits returning from green list destinations do not need to quarantine while those coming from amber list countries must self-isolate for 10 days unless they are fully vaccinated.
However, this exception for the double-jabbed does not apply to those on the amber plus list, which currently only includes France.
People returning from the 60 red list destinations must enter government-run quarantine hotels for 10 days and a cost of £1,750 per person.
A government source told The Sunday Times: “Rishi and the PM are concerned that we’ve got the benefit from vaccinating so many people and yet we are an outlier in terms of how draconian we are about travel.”
Sunak has the backing of transport secretary Grant Shapps, according to The Sun, who himself is under pressure from major airlines to support the industry by relaxing rules.
The paper reports that seven big names including BA, EasyJet, Virgin Atlantic and Tui, Jet2, Ryanair and Loganair have written to Shapps claiming the sector “cannot afford to stand still over this vital summer period”.
"We are today seeing no real recovery in customer confidence. The UK aviation recovery is far behind countries in Europe,” the letter reads.
Concern over the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa, are said to be driving the calls to create an amber watchlist.
Earlier this week, Shapps was forced to deny claims by foreign secretary Dominic Raab that France had been put on the amber plus list because of a spike in Beta cases on the overseas territory of Reunion.
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