Ryanair offers FIVE POUND flights to ‘amber list’ nations including Spain, Italy, Greece and France – as it’s revealed ‘five MILLION’ Britons have ALREADY booked holidays to EU destinations despite official travel advice

  • Millions of Britons desperate to get away have booked to France, Greece, Italy and Spain this summmer
  • Two ministers say holidays to ‘amber’ list countries are OK, only for Boris Johnson to over-rule them
  • Brussels is set to say that the EU will welcome fully-vaccinated Britons this summer from as early as today
  • All arrivals are currently going into same queues at border which has raised concerns over social distancing
  • Fears over people from amber or green list countries coming into contact with those from red list nations
  • Downing Street has insisted it is down to airports to make sure border queues happen in a Covid-secure way
  • Labour MP Yvette Cooper says queues could be ‘super spreading risk’ if safety measures are not put in place

5million Britons have already booked summer holidays to ‘amber list’ countries this summer with flights now available for £5 as Boris Johnson’s muddled ministers couldn’t make their minds up about whether people are allowed to go.

To add to the uncertainty, the EU is expected to announce today that its member states will welcome fully-vaccinated Britons this summer without the need for virus tests or quarantine – with the Prime Minister urging UK holidaymakers not to travel until he updates his own ‘green list’. 

Millions of Britons have already taken advantage of cheaper prices and booked to travel abroad to ‘amber list’ destinations this summer, with the majority planning to head to Spain, France, Greece and Italy, according to The Independent.

Ryanair today sought to cash in on the boom, offering £5 flights to ‘amber list’ destinations such as Barcelona, Dublin, Corfu, Berlin and dozens more cities and resorts across Europe through June, when the EU is expected to open up.

And it appears millions more have also taken advantage of flexible bookings offered by holiday companies to book a UK summer break at the same time, in case their foreign holiday is scuppered by covid.

With the EU set to open its borders to Brits, travel firms say that Boris Johnson will have to be clear on why he is insisting that people don’t go anywhere other than ‘green list’ Portugal in Europe.

Irene Hays, the boss of Hays Travel, said: ‘The British government will need to respond because the British people will know that, from Europe’s perspective, they’re allowed to travel there’,  adding inquiries about holidays in ‘amber list’ nations were up 177 per cent this week.  

As the Government was accused of dithering and a farrago of indecision, it also emerged today:   

  • More than 100 direct flights from India have landed in the UK since the covid-ravaged Asian country was placed on the Government’s banned list of countries last month. This means that up to 8,000 travellers have flown in from the subcontinent despite concern over an Indian covid variant that threatens to undermine the easing of the national lockdown;
  • Dirt cheap family holidays abroad on sale for just a few hundred pounds could end up costing travellers thousands because of huge extra fees for testing and quarantine;
  • Border Force staff have said airlines should send employees to help reduce immigration queues after travellers faced three-hour waits to enter the UK – with red-list passengers unsegregated from others in the line at Heathrow; 

Millions are taking a punt and have booked holidays to Amber List nations, especially in Europe, despite warnings not to fly out


Ryanair today sought to cash in on the boom, offering £5 flights to ‘amber list’ destinations such as Barcelona, Dublin, Corfu, Berlin and dozens more cities and resorts across Europe through June, when the EU is expected to open up.

A busy Heathrow terminal 2 arrivals, where the Indian passengers are escorted to awaiting coaches so the can be taken to quarantine hotels

The traffic light policy on foreign holidays descended into disarray last night with ministers accused of sowing ‘mass confusion’.

On a chaotic day, George Eustice suggested trips to ‘amber’ countries to see friends and family were acceptable.

Yet hours later Boris Johnson over-ruled the Environment Secretary by insisting such trips were off limits.

That was followed health minister Lord Bethell claiming travel anywhere was ‘dangerous’ and foreign trips were ‘not for this year’.

He even failed to rebuff a suggestion that returning holidaymakers should be electronically tagged while in quarantine.

Incredibly, the Welsh Secretary Simon Hart increased the confusion last night by saying ‘some people might think a holiday is essential’ and people should use their ‘common sense’..

The contradictory messages left beleaguered travel chiefs begging for clarity. Hundreds of flights to amber countries have already left the UK and demand for foreign trips has gone through the roof.

Tory MPs demanded to the shambles. Huw Merriman, chairman of the Commons transport committee, said: ‘I’m afraid it’s a case of confusion reigns.

‘What’s the point in bringing in a traffic light mechanism, labelling amber countries as ‘moderate risk’ and then, by implication, shading them red by telling passengers they shouldn’t even go?’

Another senior Tory described Lord Bethel’s comments as ‘idiotic’, adding: ‘If the Government is saying all travel is dangerous, then why has it just introduced a green list?

‘The confusion around the amber list is bad enough without adding to it.’

The traffic light policy for foreign holidays descended into farce last night with ministers accused of sowing ‘mass confusion’. On a chaotic day, George Eustice first suggested trips to ‘amber’ countries to see friends and family were acceptable. Yet hours later Boris Johnson over-ruled his Environment Secretary by insisting such travel was off limits.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart further heightened the confusion last night by saying ‘some people might think a holiday is essential’ and they should use their ‘common sense’. 

That was followed by health minister Lord Bethell claiming holidays anywhere abroad were ‘dangerous’ with foreign trips ‘not for this year’.

The peer even failed to rebuff the idea that returning holidaymakers should be electronically tagged in quarantine.  

The contradictory messages left beleaguered travel chiefs begging for clarity. Hundreds of flights to amber countries have already left the UK and demand for foreign breaks has gone through the roof. Conservative MPs demanded an end to the shambles.

Air passengers arriving at London Heathrow Airport faced queues of up to three hours today as calls mounted to ensure arrivals from ‘red list’ countries such as India were separated from those coming in from other nations.

All arrivals are currently going into the same queues at the border, which has raised concerns over social distancing and people from amber or green list countries coming into contact with those from red list nations.

Downing Street has insisted that it is down to airports to make sure border queues happen in a Covid-secure way, and that the Government is ‘doing everything possible to make this process as efficient as possible’.

Asked whether amber and red arrivals should be separated at airports, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said today that ‘all arrivals should be managed in a way that is as Covid-secure as possible.’

Border officials have warned tourists face massive queues at airports as international travel expands, after the new the ‘traffic light’ system for foreign trips continued to lead to long queues for the second day in a row at Heathrow.

 Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said today that queues and delays at airports after the reopening of international travel could be a ‘super spreading risk’ if safety measures are not put in place. 

Speaking to the World At One programme on BBC Radio 4 this afternoon, the Labour MP said Border Force had ‘a long time to prepare’ for the reopening of foreign travel.

She said: ‘It’s irresponsible, frankly, not to sort this out because if you have people waiting for long periods of time in a not brilliantly ventilated arrivals hall, often standing very close to each other, well that’s a super spreading risk if you continue to do that and don’t have the proper systems in place, especially if you have people arriving from red list countries alongside people arriving from green list countries.

‘So they’ve got to make sure they have proper systems in place, that they have enough Border Force staff in place, that they have enough electronic systems in place, and if they don’t have those things in place at a time when we’re all desperately trying to keep the progress moving forwards, there’s a real risk that we’ll end up just going backwards again.

‘And this is against a long history of errors and mistakes in the policies at the border, those public health border policies, that have in previous waves made the pandemic significantly worse.’

A passenger arriving from ‘red list’ India (left) and another arriving from New York in ‘amber list’ US (right) arrive at the same time at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 this morning

Three children walk in front of a woman at the arrivals hall at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 this morning

Passengers arrive at London Heathrow Terminal 2 today, one day after the new travel ‘traffic light’ system came into force

Passengers wait to board a coach to a quarantine hotel outside Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport this morning

Heathrow Terminals 2 and 5 are open (in green) but 3 and 4 (in red) have been mothballed since last year to save money

Layla Moran MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus, added: ‘We cannot allow farcical scenes to continue in which those arriving from red list countries are mixing with others in overcrowded arrival halls, potentially allowing dangerous variants to spread.

‘The government must rethink its flawed approach and discourage overseas holidays while providing proper financial support to the travel industry.’

Today, one source at Heathrow watched passengers who walked into the Terminal 2 arrivals hall at the same time after landing on flights from New York and India, having spent three hours queuing for border checks.

They said: ‘When the India flights come out, they have a man or a woman in a high vis jacket leading them, and normally they’ll bring about half a dozen people through and they get escorted, at the front and at the back.

‘They then get taken to a separate lift which goes to the basement of Heathrow and then they mix with the public again as they get onto a coach to take them to the quarantine hotel.

‘As that happens, people who were on the New York flights are rushing past the people from the India flights. so you’re less than a metre away from people who are going to be quarantined. It just makes no sense whatsoever.’  

One passenger stuck in a queue in Terminal 2 yesterday morning told MailOnline: ‘I arrived back in the country from South Africa – one of the Red Listed countries. I was more terrified catching Covid while going through border control than walking around South Africa.

‘While queuing there was no social distancing we had a plane from India arrive straight after ours and we queued for over three hours and when their plane arrived it was out the door.’

Heathrow sources said consideration was being given to opening another terminal but that it was currently ‘economically not viable’.

Opening another terminal would cost millions of pounds and airport officials have told the Government that ministers would need to help foot the bill.

Terminals 2 and 5 are open but 3 and 4 have been mothballed since last year in a bid to save money due to the economic hit inflicted by the pandemic.

Re-opening another terminal will only become economically viable when more countries are added to the travel ‘green list’, meaning passenger numbers will likely increase along with revenues generated within the terminal, or if ministers stump up more financial support.   

Passengers push their luggage as they walk through the arrivals hall at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 this morning

A woman pushes luggage through the arrivals hall at Heathrow Terminal 2 today as people arrive in Britain from abroad

Border sources have predicted far longer waits to get back into Britain later this month – particularly when those who began holidays yesterday begin to return.

‘The flight numbers aren’t ramping up yet but when they do it will be unworkable at the border,’ one insider told the Daily Mail. ‘We are struggling as it is.

‘There’s been a significant increase in the amount of work that has to be done for each passenger at the border – and that takes time for every single arrive, UK national or not. I fear we will be unable to cope.’  

Border checks currently involve multiple stages in addition to the usual eligibility and anti-terror screenings that are carried out by immigration officers.

Covid rules mean officers must determine whether a passenger has arrived from a green, amber or red list country, examine their ‘passenger locator form’, and that they have a valid negative Covid test certificate, as well as bookings for tests on the 2nd and 8th days after arriving.

Arrivals from red list countries must also show proof of their mandatory hotel quarantine bookings.

Steve Myall, who returned with his wife and young family from New York to Heathrow yesterday, said: ‘The border arrivals hall had people from flights from all over the place with no social distancing – red list people next to amber list. 

Air passengers arrive at London Heathrow this morning as they wear face masks while walking through the arrivals hall

Passengers walk through the arrivals hall at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 yesterday

‘Bearing in mind kids can’t get vaccinated you would have thought they would move families through quicker.

‘I don’t see why it’s such chaos. If variants are the concern then throw money at the border or maybe a plan to make it hellish to put people off travel.’

He added: ‘I suspect it’s going to be chaos once the airport is taking UK nationals back when they’ve been away.’  

Heathrow Airport chief John Holland-Kaye insisted things had got better at the border since queues of up to seven hours last month. He said queues were now often much shorter partly due to guard numbers being boosted.

‘When I was in immigration the other day, there were no queues, we had enough desks opened and half of the e-gates in Terminal 5 were open,’ he said.

‘What I heard from the head of Border Force [Paul Lincoln] is that now that upgrade has happened all would be open unless they were taken out for upgrades.

‘So effectively most passengers who previously used e-gates will be able to use e-gates again.’ He added: ‘We have raised our concerns about what we’ve seen at the border over the last few months where there have been far longer queues than are necessary. 

Passengers queue up for check-in in the departures hall at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 this morning

People wait to check-in for international flights in the departures hall at London Heathrow’s Terminal 2 this morning

‘However, by raising it as a public issue we have seen the Home Office and Border Force respond, they’ve accelerated the automation process [by opening up e-gates] which we have been calling for.

‘They put more officers on the desks and started to change their processes, and that is converting into shorter queues at the border.

‘I’m glad to see that Border Force seems to be stepping up.’ Asked if measures at the border were ‘fit for purpose’ yet, British Airways chief Sean Doyle said he was ‘encouraged’ by some of the progress made. 

But he added: ‘I think it needs to improve as we get into the summer. And I think there needs to be a commitment from all parties to make it improve. That’s going to be very important.

‘We have a lot of work to do. But we’re progressing along the right direction which is to use automation, which is to reopen the e-gates and to work as both airlines, airports and with Border Force together to get this up and running.’

Meanwhile, Environment Secretary George Eustice defended the timing of the Government’s decision to effectively ban travel from India by adding it to the red list from April 23.

Airline staff help passengers check-in in the departures hall at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 this morning

In response to suggestions the decision was taken too late, Environment Secretary Mr Eustice told ITV’s Good Morning Britain today: ‘What we did is put India on the red list a full six days before that variant was even under investigation and a full two weeks before it was declared a variant of concern.

‘We did put India on the list as soon as we saw an uptick in prevalence and well before the Indian variant was declared a variant of concern.’

And Mr Johnson has said India was placed on the red list of travel restrictions before the coronavirus variant first identified in the country was of concern.

The Prime Minister said today: ‘If you look at what happened with the variant we are talking about, the so-called Indian variant, the B1617.2, India was put on the red list before this was even a variant under investigation, let alone a variant of concern.

‘So we took prompt action and we will continue to take very, very draconian action in respect of all variants coming from wherever around the world.’ 

 A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘Protecting public health is our priority and as we reopen international travel safely we will maintain 100% health checks at the border to protect the wider public and our vaccine rollout.

‘While we do this, wait times are likely to be longer and we will do all we can to smooth the process, including the roll-out of our e-Gate upgrade programme during the summer and deploying additional Border Force officers.

‘Arrangements for queues and the management of returning passengers are the responsibility of the relevant airport, which we expect to be done in a COVID-secure way.’

Source: Read Full Article