Covid: North East travel bosses welcome scrapping of Amber list quarantine

Travel agents based in the North East have welcomed the government's announcement to scrap quarantining for fully vaccinated UK residents who go on holiday in amber list countries.

Dame Irene Hays, who owns the UK's largest travel agents, Sunderland-based Hays Travel, said it was a "huge, huge step" in the recovery of the industry following the Covid lockdowns.

There is currently a traffic light system in place with only a handful of countries on the green list, whereby holidaymakers can return to the UK without the need to self-isolate.

Countries on the amber list, including Spain, Portugal and Greece, require holidaymakers to quarantine for 10 days when they return home. As of the 19 July self-isolation will no longer be required.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Grant Shapps said: "Residents who are fully vaccinated through the UK vaccine rollout will no longer have to self-isolate when they return to England.

He added: "In essence, this means for fully vaccinated travellers, the requirements for green and amber list countries are the same."

Travel agents based in the North East welcomed the move.

Dame Irene Hays said: "This is a huge, huge step in the right direction. It is good news for the whole travel sector across the whole of the country and for all of those destinations, Spain, Portugal, across Europe, wherever we're allowed to go to, where their economies rely upon tourism."

Chris Harrison, Managing Director of Newcastle based Dawson & Sanderson said: "A lot of people in the North East love to go to the Mediterranean, the Greek Islands, the Spanish mainland and that's all an option for people that are double jabbed now. It'll make it a whole lot easier, the ability to unwind and I think this gives us options now of 30 or more countries on the amber list that we can enjoy that in."

Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, said it would benefit Teesside International Airport, saying it was "an absolute life saver" that "will hopefully see a lot more people using our local airport to jet off on holiday."

Children under-18, who have not been offered the vaccine, will also be exempt from quarantine and will not have to take a test on the eighth day after their return.

The transport secretary said: "Children between the ages of five and 10 will only have to take a day two test and as before children four and under will be exempt from all testing and isolation requirements."

People who have only had one Covid jab or who remain unvaccinated will still be unable to benefit from the new rules.

The announcement was bitter sweet for Christine Wrightson, who lives in Teesside. She was supposed to be holidaying in Poland to celebrate her son-in-law's 40th birthday, but her daughter and her partner will not have had their second vaccine and cannot afford to quarantine when they return to the North East.

She said: "It's frustrating and disappointing because it was for a significant birthday of her other half so we had plans of what we were going to do there and obviously by now both holidays, they're all paid in full, so it's disappointing for all of us because we're not going to be together".