EU ambassadors back plan to allow vaccinated UK tourists to visit this summer

Holidaymakers head to amber list countries despite government advice not to, ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand reports

EU ambassadors have backed plans to allow vaccinated UK holidaymakers to visit the bloc this summer.

They recommended at a meeting on Wednesday that rules should be changed to allow non-essential visits into the EU by people who have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, a spokeswoman for the Portuguese presidency of the EU Council said.

The policy will need to be signed off by ministers of member states.

A separate decision on whether to add the UK and other countries to the EU's "safe list" will be made on Friday.

Meanwhile, there are calls for clarity over the UK Government’s position in relation to overseas leisure travel after ministers appeared to contradict themselves.

With a new traffic light system brought in on Monday to allow some foreign holidays to resume again after months of coronavirus lockdown.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Boris Johnson stressed countries on the amber list were “not somewhere where you should be going on holiday”.

He came under fire from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who said it was ridiculous that it was now "easier" to get to amber list countries.

Sir Keir said the Government has decided to “weaken” border controls as the new Indian variant is spreading.

He told the Commons: “The Prime Minister’s former adviser had this one right. He said the Government’s border policy was a joke.”

Sir Keir continued: “Flights are still coming in from India and even as the variant is spreading, the Prime Minister decides now is the time to weaken the system even more. It is ridiculous.”

Some Brits tell ITV News why they are travelling to countries on the amber list

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman, during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday, said holidays and leisure travel should still be restricted to the limited number of countries deemed safe by ministers, such as Portugal, which is the only major viable tourist destination on the quarantine-free green list.

But Cabinet ministers appeared to offer a different reading of the rules, with Environment Secretary George Eustice telling broadcasters people could go to amber-listed countries as long as they observed quarantine rules on their return.

Health Minister Lord Bethell said Brits should holiday at home this year, appearing to contradict other government advice. Credit: PA

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart, speaking after Mr Johnson’s comments on the matter, told Times Radio the public should ask themselves whether a trip to a country on the amber list was “essential”, before conceding that “some people might think a holiday is essential”.

This morning, government minister Gillian Keegan told ITV News: "you shouldn't be going on holiday to amber list countries".

And despite the presence of a green list comprising 12 countries and territories, Health Minister Lord Bethell told peers he considered all foreign travel to be “dangerous” and urged Britons to holiday at home this summer.

Mr Johnson could face pressure to clarify the situation when he takes Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

An aviation industry chief said Lord Bethell’s comments would cause “confusion” for families with trips booked.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “These comments are simply not correct and will cause real anger amongst the hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on international travel, and confusion amongst families who have booked travel under the Government’s own restart policy.”

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The criticism came amid reports thousands of people had headed for destinations such as France, Greece, Spain and the United States – none of which are on the green list – with more than 150 flights reported to have departed on Monday when travel rules were relaxed in Britain as part of a further phase of lockdown easing.

Non-essential travel from Northern Ireland to the Common Travel Area – which consists of the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man – will be allowed from May 24.