Travel companies should rebook customers on amber list holidays, says Shapps

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Holiday companies should rebook customers due to travel to amber destinations, the transport secretary said this morning.

Recreational travel was given the official nod to restart from 17 May, under a “traffic light” system.

There are only 12 countries on the green list, including holiday favourite Portugal, and 43 on the red list, which mandates hotel quarantine.

Every other country, including the rest of Europe, has been shuffled onto the amber list. Arrivals from amber destinations must self-isolate for 10 days and present three negative Covid tests.

Since holidays became legal once again this week, travel firms and airlines have increased capacity to some amber destinations, notably Spain and Greece, in spite of government guidance. It’s estimated that around 270,000 are due to fly off to amber destinations over the next few days.

Grant Shapps told Times Radio this morning that an amber list country was “not free and open travel” and “we ask people not to go to these places for holidays”.

“So travel companies who stick to that and refuse to rebook, I would suggest are not in the right place,” he added.

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On ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he said: “I just appeal to the holiday companies, and there is protection in place for particularly package holidays through the Atol system, to be as flexible as possible and as helpful as possible.

“It is, I know, a frustrating situation as we all sit here, frankly, and wait to see what the virus does next.”

He acknowledged that “there’s no doubt at all that coronavirus has made life impossibly difficult not just for holidaymakers but for travel companies as well”.

This morning, easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said that travellers are booking flights and going to amber list destinations for holidays, despite the government advice.

“I think that the view was to apply common sense, and I think that there’s a lot of people out there who have as a top priority coming through this pandemic to go on that holiday break.

“That is what people are doing.”

A Tui spokesperson confirmed to The Independent that holidays were going ahead. “We want to offer our customers flexibility and choice this summer, so where borders are open and FCDO advice allows travel, we will operate to those destinations.

“We review our holiday cancellations in line with the government updates every three weeks, with the next update due in early June. We know some customers may be unsure about travelling this summer, so we’ve offered free changes 14 days before travel for anyone due to travel before the end of August.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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