Grant Shapps said today that international travel must be delayed to avoid ‘screwing up’ the UK’s recovery from COVID-19.
The Transport Secretary said overseas holidays can’t go ahead until other countries catch up with Britain’s vaccination programme.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Shapps dismissed reports that more countries would shortly be added to the green list.
Instead, he said the Government was “having to wait for countries to catch up’ with the vaccination programme before the list of destinations Brits can travel to without quarantine when they return is expanded.
He said the biggest fear was holidaymakers importing more cases of the Indian strain of coronavirus to the UK.
In the UK, 60% of the population has had at least one dose of a vaccine compared with about 40% in many popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Portugal and Greece, according to The Times.
“What no one wants to see us doing now is to screw that all up by inadvertently re-attracting the coronavirus . . . into this country,” Mr Shapps told Sky News.
His comments have effectively quashed hopes that countries such as Spain, Greece and Cyprus will be moved from the amber list to green at the next Government review, which is expected on 21 June.
Speaking from Cornwall where, ironically he was talking about the launch of space travel, Mr Shapps said: “I think most people agree that we’ve got to be cautious. I am the Transport Secretary, I want transport to happen, I want international transport to happen, but I think most people appreciate that what we need to do is open up cautiously.
“I hope and I am sure that what will happen as more and more people are vaccinated around the world. Of course, what happened was that the UK got well ahead of the game in terms of more people vaccinated than any other country in Europe and so we are just having to wait for countries to catch up.”