Travel news latest: Sturgeon warns travel traffic light system 'poses risk' from variants

Travel news latest: Sturgeon warns travel traffic light system ‘poses risk’ from variants

A traffic light system for restarting international travel “poses a risk” of importing new variants, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned. 

“We don’t know where the variants of real concern are going to come from, which is why an approach to international travel that tries to categorise risk with some countries labelled as red-list countries and others deemed to be safer poses a risk,” Ms Sturgeon told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

“None of us know where the next variant that might be really problematic is going to occur,” the First Minister added. 

Scotland has tougher restrictions in place with all people arriving from overseas facing a stay in a quarantine hotel. Those arriving in England are only required to enter such a facility if they have been in a country on the “red list” in the previous 10 days. 

Ms Sturgeon’s comments come as travel industry modelling suggests just eight countries would meet the criteria for the UK Government’s “green list” when foreign travel resumes at the earliest of May 17. 

The analysis based on the Government’s “risk” criteria suggests the US, Israel, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, Australia and New Zealand will be among those on the list for quarantine-free travel. 

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Indian variant requires action ‘sooner rather than later’

The Indian variant poses an “unknown level of threat” to the UK, a Government adviser has said, as he urged ministers to act “sooner rather than later”.

Last week it was revealed that 77 cases had been identified in Britain, but it is currently being treated as a “variant under investigation”. 

But Professor Andrew Hayward of University College London who also sits on Nervtag, which is one of the groups advising Sage scientists suggested ministers should follow Hong Kong’s example of imposing a two-week travel ban from India. 

Prof Hayward said: “What we have is an unknown level of risk, my own preference in all of this is to err on the side of caution and to act sooner rather than later. But ultimately, that’s going to be a political decision.”

There have been calls to add India to England’s travel ban “red list”. 

Read more on the coronavirus live blog. 

Covid tests for holidaymakers could fall below £50 

Private Covid tests for summer holidaymakers could fall below £50 under plans being considered by the Treasury to exempt them from VAT.

In a partial climbdown, HMRC has already ruled that the gold standard PCR tests will be exempt from VAT when they are administered or overseen by a registered nurse, The Telegraph can reveal.

Now senior sources say the Treasury could go further and fully exempt the tests from the charge which can add 20 per cent to the price which can range from £60 to £300 per test. The exemption would mean a saving of roughly between £40 and £240 for a family of four for a single test each on their return. 

The decision will affect thousands of holidaymakers because of the Government’s insistence that all travellers returning to the UK must take at least one PCR test on or before the second day of their arrival even if they are coming from a safe “green list” country.

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