Green list expansion does not go far enough, warn industry leaders

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The government has expanded its green list but industry leaders have warned that it does not go far enough.

Malta, the Balearic Islands, Madeira and several Caribbean Islands have all been added to the green list, meaning travellers do not need to quarantine on arrival back into the country from 04:00 on Wednesday.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also said the government plans to drop quarantine for fully-vaccinated people returning from amber list countries “later in the summer”.

But the boss of MAG, the group that owns Manchester Airport, East Midlands and Stansted,said while the announcement is a “long overdue step towards” a restart for international travel – some serious questions remain as to why these destinations weren’t opened-up sooner.

Charlie Cornish, MAG Group CEO, said: “At the same time, the Government has again failed to publish the data and advice it is using to inform its decisions, which makes it harder to prepare for any future changes to the lists.

“Stating an intention to enable double vaccinated people to travel to amber countries without the need to self isolate on return is also long overdue and this policy must be implemented as soon as possible.

“Vague and open-ended promises are just not good enough.

“While UK citizens are stuck at home, Europeans are on the move and taking advantage of their own vaccination programmes to lift restrictions and open-up travel to low-risk destinations.

“The Government already has clear evidence on the effectiveness of vaccines, but its sluggish and opaque response to international travel restrictions is squandering the UK’s leadership in this area.

“With no transparency from Government, we simply cannot understand how Ministers are taking these decisions, which are fundamental to the future of a sector that supports more than 1m jobs and billions of pounds of economic value.”

Airport Operators Association CEO Karen Dee said: “Any extension of the green list is welcome, however small, but we also have to be realistic: this is not yet the meaningful restart the aviation industry needs to be able to recover from the pandemic.

“While this is not yet the vaccine dividend people in the UK had hoped for, it is welcome that government intends to exempt fully vaccinated travellers from quarantine. We urge the government to publish details on its plans and implement them as soon as possible to save what remains of the summer season.

“In the meantime, the overly cautious approach continues to have major financial impacts for airports. The Government should recompense aviation for the impact of that approach through significant sector-specific support.”

Mr Shapps added the government hopes to be able “to do more” in the future, but “will only ever be guided by the science”.

“Any extension of the green list is welcome, however small, but we also have to be realistic: this is not yet the meaningful restart the aviation industry needs to be able to recover from the pandemic,” he said.

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