Grant Shapps has declined to give any indication that he is planning to open up travel to any more destinations, including Mediterranean islands with low COVID and high vaccination rates in June.
His comments yesterday follow speculation in the media that the Transport Secretary is planning to add some Greek islands, the Canaries and possibly the Balearic islands to the UK’s green travel list.
Mr Shapps had said earlier that he would consider adding the islands if they satisfied the green list criteria, even if mainland Greece and Spain remained amber.
This has led to some media outlets reporting that the Canaries and at least five Greek islands, none of which is subject to Foreign Office advice against non-essential travel would move from green to amber at the next review.
However, yesterday Mr Shapps said he doesn’t yet have the data to allow him to confidently expand the green list.
“I need the Joint Biosecurity Centre to come to back to me,” he said, adding that scientists have warned that even allowing vaccinated travellers to go to countries with high COVID rates puts them and the rest of the British population at risk.
He said it would be ‘a brave and possibly foolish politician’ to ignore the scientific evidence.
When asked why islands such as Malta, which have low COVID levels and a high percentage of the population vaccinated, were not on his initial green list, Mr Shapps said he also had to consider a destination’s ability to sequence genomes and the quality of the data provided.
While he did not rule out adding islands such as Malta and the Canaries to the green list soon, Mr Shapps said not to expect an update until the first week of June.
His comments came just days after Spain welcomed back British tourists, but the country remains on the UK’s amber list so holidaymakers will have to quarantine at home for up to 10 days when they return. The Foreign Office is also continuing to warn against non-essential travel to Spain, with the exception of the Canaries.