Grant Shapps REFUSES to say if he'd go on holiday to green list nation

Grant Shapps REFUSES to say if he’d go on holiday to a green list country amid fears they could be axed at any moment as the Transport Secretary delivers jabs jibe at Angela Merkel over plan to force Brits to quarantine in EU

  • Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last night unveiled changes to Government’s travel traffic lights system 
  • Mr Shapps added 14 countries to green list but all but one also added to a watch list, prompting uncertainty
  • Mr Shapps today refused to say whether he would be willing to risk booking a holiday to a green list country 
  • Travel industry chiefs said dozens more countries should have been added ahead of crucial summer months 
  • The cost of heading to Ibiza, Majorca, Menorca and Malta surged by up to 200 per cent after they were added
  • Tickets for a return to Ibiza on July 3 and 10 leaped from £149 to £314 while Majorca went from £153 to £478  

Grant Shapps today repeatedly refused to say whether he would risk booking a family holiday to a country on the green watch list as the Government faced a furious backlash over the latest changes to its international holiday rules.

Mr Shapps last night unveiled limited changes to the traffic light lists as he added 14 countries and territories to the green category from which travellers do not have to self-isolate on their return to the UK.  

However, all but one – Malta – were also put on a watch list, which means they are at risk of quickly returning to the amber list.

While some popular hotspots – including Spain’s Balearic islands and a number of Caribbean destinations – are on the list, France, Greece, Italy and mainland Spain remain off limits to UK holidaymakers.

Travel bosses blasted the changes and said they do not go far enough while Tory MPs said the green list is still ‘overly cautious’. 

Mr Shapps insisted the changes will provide ‘a little bit of relief’ for the travel industry but he risked undermining consumer confidence as he repeatedly refused to say whether he would book.  

The Transport Secretary said he is ‘rather busy’ dealing with the pandemic and therefore not thinking about going on a trip abroad. 

Meanwhile, Mr Shapps also took aim at Angela Merkel who is calling for all EU countries to follow Germany’s lead in requiring all Britons entering the country to self-isolate to stop the spread of the ‘Delta’ coronavirus variant. 

Mr Shapps said Mrs Merkel is only advocating the move because the bloc’s vaccination rollout is lagging behind the UK’s.               

Malta was the only country added to the green list which was not also added to the green watch list. The Blue Lagoon beach in Malta is pictured

IN FULL: The UK’s new travel green list 

All changes will come into effect from Wednesday, June 30 at 4am:

  • Anguila
  • Antigua and Barbuda 
  • Australia
  • Balearic Islands
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • British Antarctic Territory
  • British Indian Ocean Territory
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Brunei
  • Cayman Islands
  • Dominica 
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Grenada 
  • Iceland
  • Israel and Jerusalem – to be moved to the Green Watch List
  • Madeira
  • Malta
  • Montserrat 
  • New Zealand
  • Pitcairn Islands 
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
  • Singapore
  • Turks and Caicos Islands  

The UK Government will move the following countries to the red list from June 30:

  • Dominican Republic 
  • Eritrea
  • Haiti
  • Mongolia
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda 

The backlash over the travel announcement came as: 

  • Mr Shapps warned international travel in the coronavirus world ‘won’t be quite like it was in 2019 and the old days’ but insisted ‘we are moving in a positive direction’. 
  • The Transport Secretary defended plans to allow Uefa VIPs to attend the Euro 2020 final at Wembley without having to quarantine as he said the easing of rules is ‘not a free for all’. 
  • Professor Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), expressed concerns about the return of large crowds at events as he said ‘if there is a lot of virus around and larger numbers of cases, then putting a lot of people in one place will certainly result in others acquiring the infection’. 
  • Labour’s shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon called for the Government to simplify the traffic light system as he said ‘either it is not safe to go or it is safe to go’.     

Mr Shapps announced last night that the Balearic islands – Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca – along with Madeira, Grenada, Barbados, and Bermuda have all been downgraded from amber to green.

It means holidaymakers will be able to return from these countries without being forced into quarantine for 10 days when arriving back in the UK.

Within minutes, flight prices to the popular holiday destinations had tripled, with tickets for a return flight to Ibiza on July 3 and July 10 leaped from £149 to £314 while journeys on the same days to Majorca leaped from £153 to £478.  

The Transport Secretary also said the Government will allow those who are double-jabbed to holiday in amber list countries without having to quarantine on their return – but this is still weeks away, with the rule not likely to come in until July at the earliest.

But the announcements drew criticism from some airlines, with easyJet saying it ‘simply isn’t ambitious enough’, while Virgin Atlantic chief Shai Weiss also criticised the decision to leave the US on the UK’s amber list, saying: ‘Today’s announcement fails to go far enough.’ 

Mr Shapps was asked three times this morning during an interview on Sky News if he would book a holiday to a country on the green list but he refused to answer. 

Asked for the first time, he said: ‘I should just explain the green watchlist. It means they are on the green list, it means you can go, it is treated like a green list.

‘But we are just being completely open with the data that the scientists have given us in saying there are one or two concerns, it might mean that we have to perhaps respond quickly on there so we have said it is the green watch list in order that people can see exactly what we are seeing about it.

‘I have to say, whoever is booking to go anywhere this summer at all, you know, travel insurance, making sure your flights are changeable, making sure the accommodation is changeable, all those things are going to be very, very important this particular year.

‘People will need to weigh up whether that is going to work for them or not.’

Asked for the second time, he said: ‘Sadly I don’t think I have got time at the moment to take a holiday but if people are in a situation where from next week, next Wednesday, Thursday they wanted to get away then these are the places where you can go for the purposes of holiday, of course being aware of all the caveats about the risk of things changing because this virus we know that happens with quite a lot of regularity.’

Asked for the third time, he said: ‘Well, as I say, you are asking me if I was in someone else’s shoes and I am not. I am not looking to go on holiday right this moment because I am rather busy dealing with this and a lot of other transport issues.

‘Each individual will look at their own situation.’  

There are fears that the UK’s plans to allow double-jabbed Brits to travel from amber list countries without having to quarantine could be scuppered if Mrs Merkel wins support across the EU for her hardline border stance. 

She said yesterday: ‘With us you have to be in quarantine when you come from the UK. This is by no means the case in every European country. But I would like that.’

French President Emmanuel Macron has already signalled his support but Mr Shapps today hit back over the plan as he said such a move is the result of the bloc’s slow vaccination programme.    

He said: ‘Germany doesn’t have the same level of vaccinations as has happened in this country so they will be particularly concerned.

‘Each country will have to come to their own decision. A country like Malta which has a very high level of vaccination hasn’t said the same thing and other European countries will come to their own decisions and I respect that, that is for them to do.

‘But it is different in each country and largely driven by levels of vaccination that they have managed to achieve in each country.’

The changes to the traffic light lists promoted anger among some Tory MPs who are calling for the Government to go further in reopening international travel. 

Henry Smith, the Conservative chairman of the all-party Future of Aviation Group, said: ‘What the travel and tourism sector needs is certainty, and putting them on an amber light or uncertain green won’t provide that.

‘I welcome the direction of travel that sees greater, safer reopening but the list of green countries is overly cautious and the cost and complexity of testing is still a discouraging factor for people being able to travel.’

Meanwhile, aviation bosses were once again left disappointed by the changes as they bemoaned the slow progress on bringing back non-essential foreign travel.

Sean Doyle, CEO of British Airways, told the BBC: ‘We cannot afford another missed summer. There are jobs at stake, Britons separated from family members and we cannot afford to allow the success of our vaccine programme to be wasted.’

It came as others across the beleaguered travel sector voiced similar concerns. The Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said the Government’s ‘overly cautious’ approach would continue to have ‘major financial impacts’ on the sector.

‘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,’ she said.

CBI chief UK policy director Matthew Fell added: ‘While welcome, these limited movements on green list countries won’t be enough to salvage the summer season for the international travel sector.

IBIZA BEFORE: Tickets for a return flight to Ibiza on July 3 and July 10 started at £149 earlier on Thursday 

IBIZA AFTER: But journeys to the party island jumped after the announcement to £314

MAJORCA BEFORE: One journey on the same days to Majorca started at £153 earlier on Thursday

MAJORCA AFTER: But to get to the Balearic Island now you will have to fork out around £478

MENORCA BEFORE: A trip with the same firm to nearby Menorca rose from £132 to £312

MENORCA AFTER: Passengers wanting a trip to Menorca next month could have to pay premium prices for their flights

MALTA BEFORE: The price of the flight from Heathrow to Malta was just £201 ahead of the announcement

MALTA AFTER: But after Mr Shapps’ revealed the new list it jumped up to £260

Jet2 announces 70 extra flights to Malta and Madeira after green list announcement 

British travel firm and Jet2holidays have announced plans to put on 70 additional flights to Malta and Madeira in anticipation for a huge spike in demand in the wake of the Government’s latest travel announcement.

The plans include adding a new route to Malta from London Stansted for Summer 21.

Steve Heapy, CEO of and Jet2holidays said: ‘We have been urging the UK Government to stay true to their word and follow the scientific evidence when it comes to making decisions about international travel, so yesterday’s announcement is an overdue but welcome step in the right direction. 

‘We believe other destinations should still be added to the Green List, however what this demonstrates is that the Government is firmly committed to reopening international travel and we commend that approach.

‘This is fantastic news for our customers who want nothing more than to get away for a much-needed holiday.

‘Now that we have some clarity about where we can fly to, our focus is on getting everything ready for the restart of our international flights and holidays from July 1.’ 

‘International connectivity extends far beyond tourism and underpins our whole economy. The UK’s successful vaccine rollout means we should be in the vanguard of safely restarting international travel.’

Meanwhile, the holiday company On the Beach said it would not be taking new bookings for July and August while so much uncertainty remained about countries on the watchlist.

Chief executive Simon Cooper said: ‘Booking a holiday to these destinations is not a guarantee that you won’t have to self-isolate when you return home.

‘While this uncertainty continues, we will continue to not sell holidays for July and August until we have greater confidence these holidays will go ahead with minimal disruptions.’

It comes as six countries including Tunisia and Haiti will be put on the UK’s travel red list – meaning only UK citizens and those with residency status can travel from here and must stay in quarantine hotels for 10 days.

Israel and Jerusalem, which have been on the UK’s travel green list since its inception, will be added to the ‘green watch list’.

Others in this category – which signals that a country might be moved to the amber list in the near future – include Antigua, the Balearic Islands, Barbados and Grenada. 

Mr Shapps said this morning that international travel will not be as easy as it was before the pandemic but insisted the green list will give people options. 

The Cabinet minister told Sky News: ‘It does mean there is a little bit of relief for the travel industry and for people who wish to get away.

‘It won’t be quite like it was in 2019 and the old days, but we are moving in a positive direction.’ 

Yesterday it emerged how some Britons jumped the gun and revealed they had been booking flights and stays abroad before the Transport Secretary’s announcement.

Hopeful tourists took to social media over the past few days to show their plans for some summer sun, bagging return flight prices as cheap as £21 for Malta and Ibiza and £26 to Mallorca over the next few months.

But within hours of Mr Shapps’ announcement prices for flights to the new green list destinations surged by up to 200 per cent.

Jet2’s plane from Stansted to Ibiza and back – at 6am on July 3 and 10.20am on July 10 – jumped from £149 to £314.

Ryanair’s journey to Malta for the same dates – but at 4.55pm and 7.15am – also increased in cost from £201 to £260.

Meanwhile a Jet2 plane out of the Essex airport to Majorca on those days leaped from £153 to £478 within hours of the announcement.

A trip with the same firm to nearby Menorca rose from  £132 to £312.

The welcome announcement of the new green list, which comes into effect from June 30, was made after both Scotland and Northern Ireland jumped the gun and revealed the additions before Mr Shapps.

Almost an hour after the Northern Ireland Assembly had revealed the updated green list, the Transport Secretary said in a Twitter post: ‘We’re adding Malta to the Government green list.

Britons have been given a major boost to their hopes of a foreign getaway this summer, with 16 locations – including several top holiday hotspots – being added to the UK’s travel green list. Pictured: Pretty Bay at Birzebbuga, Malta – which has been added to the list

The hugely popular Balearic islands – Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca – along with Madeira, Grenada, Barbados (pictured), and Bermuda have all been downgraded from amber to green, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed tonight

Mallorca (pictured: Beach El Arenal) is one of the top holiday hotspots to be put on the UK’s green travel list by Grant Shapps

Bermuda (pictured: Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda) is also being added to the list, with changes set to be made on June 30 at 4am

What is the UK’s green ‘watch list’ for travel

The green ‘watch list’ is the Government’s new section of the travel traffic light system.

Introduced earlier this month, the watch list is for countries that are on the green list for travel, but are seeing concerning Covid numbers. The Government says it can and will move countries between its red, amber and red lists if there are concerns about case figures.

But it came under fire from holiday groups and passengers after dramatically dropping countries from its green list – leaving passengers facing a fight to get their money back or rearrange their holiday plans at short notice. The watch list, therefore, is meant to act as a warning to travellers that a country may soon be put on the amber list.

However the quarantine rules remain the same on the green and green watch list – in that passengers who arrive in the UK from these countries do not have to quarantine on their return. Israel and Jerusalem, which have been on the green list since its inception, are now heading for the watch list.

And 15 out of the 16 additions to the green list will be placed on the watch list instead of straight on the green list. Malta will be the only country from the new green list nations not to be on the watch list. 

‘We’re also adding Madeira, the Balearic Islands, several UK Overseas Territories and Caribbean Islands (including Barbados) to the green list and green watchlist. Israel and Jerusalem are also added to the green watchlist.’

He added: ‘Thanks to our successful vaccination programme, our intention is that later in the summer UK residents who are fully vaccinated will not have to isolate when travelling from amber list countries.’

Mr Shapps said more details about the double-vaccination holiday scheme will be unveiled by the government next month.

Six countries including Tunisia and Haiti will be put on the UK’s travel red list – meaning only UK citizens and those with residency status can travel from here and must stay in quarantine hotels for 10 days.

Israel and Jerusalem, which have been on the UK’s travel green list since its inception, will be added to the green watch list – which signals that a country might be moved to the amber list in the near future.

The travel list changes are all due to come into place from June 30, at 4am.

Both Northern Ireland and Scotland had earlier jumped the gun on the announcement, revealing the 16 countries they were set to allow on their travel green list.

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson said: From the outset we have said caution is required regarding international travel and people should think very carefully about travelling abroad as situations can suddenly change.

‘We continue to work closely with the other home nations and are cautiously supportive of exploring options for the easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from countries on the amber list – but only if the clinical advice supports it and if systems are in place to ensure the wider safety of the Scottish population.’ 

Travel chiefs welcomed the move, with Virgin Atlantic chief Shai Weiss describing the decision to allow Antigua, Barbados and Grenada as a ‘constructive step’ to allow ‘much needed holidays’. 

But she also criticised the decision to leave the US on the UK’s amber list, saying: ‘Today’s announcement fails to go far enough.

The Government’s own evidence shows the US is low risk and should be added to the Green list now.  Whilst the transatlantic corridor is closed, £23million in economic value each day is restricted.

‘We urge the UK Government to move the US to the UK’s ‘Green list’ and for the Biden administration to repeal the 212F proclamation for UK travellers.’ 

Chief executive of trade group ABTA, Mark Tanzer, said while the green list additions were ‘welcome’ that the Government’s latest update did ‘not on its own deliver a meaningful restart of international travel’.

ABTA chief, Mr Tanzer, said: ‘If the Government is going to continue to place such tight constraints on the industry’s ability to trade, we need them to commit to a package of tailored financial support for the sector, which recognises that the travel industry’s recovery will be slower than that in other sectors of the economy. 

Merkel and Macron are accused of hypocrisy over push to keep Brits out of Europe this summer

France and Germany were accused of hypocrisy after pushing to keep British holidaymakers out of Europe this summer, despite the Indian variant already being on the rise in both nations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron urged all EU states to follow their lead in making it mandatory for UK travellers to quarantine, regardless of whether they have been jabbed or not.

The bid to tighten the bloc’s defences comes amid fears about the ultra-infectious Indian ‘Delta’ variant which has taken off far quicker in Britain than the rest of the continent.

But data shows prevalence of the mutant strain is growing exponentially in Germany and is accounting for up to 70 per cent of new cases in some regions in the South West of France.

Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline the Franco-German stance was ‘an attempt to close the stable door after the horse has bolted’. He said previous waves had shown overly-strict border controls between European countries cannot keep out new variants because they are so closely tied in trade, business and travel.

Nationally, the Indian variant only makes up 15 per cent of infections in Germany currently and cases are still trending downwards. But official data shows the proportion of infections made up of the Delta strain have doubled every seven days for the past three weeks.

French Government figures show 10 per cent of all new Covid cases are the virulent variant, but seven in 10 of new cases in the southwestern region of Landes, on the Atlantic coast. Landes is recording more than 50 Covid cases per 100,000 population in total which is double the national rate. It is also the only area in France where infection rates are climbing.

The situation in Landes has echoes of how the Indian variant was first seeded in the North West of England and spread around Britain from April.

Currently, those travelling from Britain to Greece, Spain and Portugal are not required to quarantine. Spain is letting Britons in without having to produce a PCR test.

The UK’s hugely successful vaccination programme – which has seen more than 80 per cent of adults jabbed and 60 per cent fully vaccinated – means the majority of the population are protected from the Indian variant and less likely to spread it.

‘Travel companies are facing increased furlough and business rates costs next week and – with travel to the most popular holiday destinations still largely restricted – they will simply not have the money to do so.’

On the amber list double jab announcement, he added: ‘We’re glad to hear that the Government intends to remove quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers travelling to amber countries, and this needs to be introduced as quickly as possible.’

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: ‘It is very positive news that ministers are following the science and that fully vaccinated people will be able to travel safely without quarantine later this summer. We will work with the Government to make this happen as soon as possible and let Britain fly!’

But travel expert Paul Charles of the PC Agency tweeted: ‘Just to be clear – the ‘green watchlist’ enables #UKGov to switch green countries to Amber or Red without warning.

‘Of the 15 destinations added today, only one, Malta, is pure green. Ministers have not re-instilled confidence in the traffic lights system.’

It comes as France and Germany launched a joint push to make Britons quarantine on arrival in the EU despite Boris Johnson hailing the ‘real opportunity’ of opening travel to double-jabbed holidaymakers.

The bid is to tighten the bloc’s defences against the Indian – or Delta – variant, with countries alarmed at the spike in infections caused by the mutation.

Mrs Merkel urged all EU states to follow Germany’s lead by requiring travellers from the UK to quarantine.

But Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya confirmed tonight the country would snub Angela Merkel by continuing to let British tourists into the country without forcing them to quarantine.

She said at a press conference with her Panamanian counterpart Erika Mouynes after their meeting in Madrid: ‘At the moment we are maintaining the measures which enable British citizens to enter our territory.’

Spain’s defiant stance comes after the German president said in summit at Brussels: ‘I will lobby for a more co-ordinated approach, particularly with regard to entries from regions where virus variants abound.’

French president Emmanuel Macron echoed her hard line, saying: ‘We must all be vigilant because the much-talked-about Delta variant is coming, which spreads much more rapidly than the other variants and affects people who are not vaccinated or who only have had one dose.

‘For me, one of the issues of discussion is to be really taking co-ordinated decisions in terms of opening of borders to third countries and on recognising vaccines because at this stage we have to limit this to the vaccines that have been approved by the European medical authority.’

Environment Secretary George Eustice condemned the Franco-German stance. ‘I’m not sure that such an approach would be justified given the highly advanced stage we are currently at now in terms of vaccination, with 80 per cent having had one jab and now 60 per cent having had the second jab,’ he told LBC radio.

‘I don’t think such a move would be justified but obviously it’s for individual countries to make these judgments.’

Spain indicated it will fight any Franco-German attempt to get the rest of Europe to introduce quarantine for British holidaymakers. 

Meanwhile, on a visit to Aldershot, Mr Johnson dodged directly criticising Mrs Merkel’s comments, saying: ‘Let’s see where we get to with all this.

‘I think that the real opportunity we all have now is to open up travel through the double jab. We’ve got more than 60 per cent of our population have now had two jabs, 83 per cent have had one jab, we’re really getting through it now.

‘I’m not going to claim that this summer, for travel purposes, is going to be like any other summer. I don’t want to cast a pall over things but, as I said the other day, it will be different.’ 

Angela Merkel (pictured with Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit) has called on other European countries to force UK travellers to quarantine on arrival

On a visit to Aldershot, Boris Johnson sidestepped on Angela Merkel’s comments about making Britons quarantine but said the ‘real opportunity’ was to open up travel to people who have had two vaccination doses

Ministers say they will stop wearing masks as soon as they are not law 

Boris Johnson is struggling to contain an apparent Cabinet split as ministers openly said they will ditch face masks the moment they are not compulsory – and suggested that should happen on July 19.

George Eustice dismissed the idea he would keep wearing face coverings when they are not required, saying: ‘I want to get back to normal.’

He also reiterated that the plan is for ‘all legal restrictions’ to lift in England on the so-called Covid ‘Freedom Day’ next month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak gave a similar message as he said it is his ‘strong expectation’ that the unlocking will go ahead on schedule.  Asked at the Times CEO summit if he would stop wearing masks when they are not legally required, Mr Sunak said: ‘Yes, as soon as possible.’   

Meanwhile, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg ramped up expectations of curbs being fully removed as he told MPs that the description of July 19 as a ‘terminus point’ is likely to mean Covid certificates and other rules are dropped completely.  

However, in signs of tensions at the heart of government, Downing Street said the PM is only aiming to ‘get back as close to normal as is possible’ and ‘no final decisions have been taken’.

Nicola Sturgeon suggested earlier this week that the Scottish government could keep advising people to wear masks beyond August even if they are not mandatory.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also warned that they should still be required on the Tube and buses as they give people ‘confidence’ they are safe.     

Portuguese PM Antonio Costa admitted earlier his country would bow down to whatever EU leaders decided ahead of a European Council meeting.

Asked by a Portuguese journalist if Lisbon would consider making Brits quarantine, he replied: ‘If that was the wish of the Council, yes. 

‘The United Kingdom shouldn’t have any different treatment.’ 

But Spain’s Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto appeared to put her country on a collision course with the likes of Merkel and Macron by insisting before the UK’s new traffic light announcement: ‘Hopefully we can begin to receive British tourists soon.’

Speaking at an event organised by leading Spanish newspaper El Pais, she said: ‘We don’t have any restrictions on tourists from the UK at the moment. 

‘They’re the ones who are placing restrictions on people when they return.’ 

More than five million Brits visit Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca in a normal year. 

Scientists had earlier signed off on declaring the Balearics safe enough for the green list, though there were fears that the Government could overrule the experts and keep them on the amber list.

Earlier, Tory MP Henry Smith, chairman of the Future of Aviation Group, said some of the countries should have already been on the green list.

He said: ‘Frankly, these destinations should already be on the green list along with many others.

‘It is a nonsense that people are not able to travel freely to countries that have lower rates of infection than we do.’ 

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: ‘It’s now or never if we are to have any sort of summer season and the data shows this can be done safely and proportionately with many more countries being added to the list.

‘The future of our aviation industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports depends on it.’ 

Culture minister John Whittingdale hinted at positive news yesterday, saying: ‘Hopefully it will be possible to increase that number’ of countries on the green list. 

Green list status is only allocated to destinations that can show they have low Covid rates and no significant problems with variants of concern. 

They also have to show that they can monitor for new variants.

Government scientists advised last month that Malta could be added to the green list, only to be overruled by ministers led by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Latest figures suggest infection rates on the island are less than half those in the UK. 

Meanwhile, Berlin has banned travellers from Britain entering unless they are a German citizen, have residency rights or if there is an ‘urgent humanitarian reason’ like a family death. 

But those allowed in still have to register to get permission to visit and quarantine for two weeks with no option for early release after a negative test.

It comes after Italy reintroduced quarantine and testing requirements for all UK arrivals amid growing concerns in Europe about the spread of the Indian, or Delta, variant, now dominant in the UK.

Health minister Roberto Speranza said on Friday that Italy will require all travellers from Britain to quarantine for five days upon arrival.

A negative test is required at the end of the five-day period. America currently still bans UK tourists amid the surge in Delta cases. 

Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious diseases expert, last week suggested that UK-US travel would only reopen in September as a result. 

Portugal, Spain and Greece are still allowing UK holidaymakers to visit with proof of a negative test and no quarantine. 

France is also allowing in fully vaccinated Britons with a negative test.

But European health officials say further action is needed to curb the spread of the Delta variant as it gains a hold on the Continent. 

This month it accounted for 70 per cent of sequenced cases in the greater Lisbon region of Portugal, more than 20 per cent in Italy and about 16 per cent in Belgium.  It has also been detected in clusters in Germany, France and Spain.

Ahead of Mr Shapps’ green list update, some Britons took to social media to announce they had decided to buy tickets abroad anyway.

Hopeful tourists over the past few days revealed their plans for some summer sun abroad, with return flight prices as cheap as £21 for Malta and Ibiza and £26 to Mallorca over the next few months.

Even last-minute holidays will not break the bank, with Saturday-Saturday returns from July 3 to July 10 available through price comparison website Skyscanner for £87 to Ibiza, £120 to Mallorca and £147 to Valletta.

And one British tourist from Manchester, @speckysi, tweeted: ‘It’s Russian roulette time again, I’ve now booked Malta for next week – there’s next to nothing cases and zero deaths. All I want is one week in the sun.’

Another, Tristan Dawson from Essex, tweeted that he had ‘just booked Mallorca’ and was ‘determined to have a holiday’ – while a third, Adam Courtney, said he had ‘gambled and booked’ a trip to Malta on Tuesday.      

Let us fly again! Furious pilots march on Westminster 

Hundreds of travel workers including pilots and business owners marched on Westminster yesterday to demand that ministers ease restrictions threatening the industry.

They called on the Prime Minister to expand the quarantine-free travel green list at yesterday’s review and make it easier for fully-vaccinated Britons to go on holiday. They warned huge numbers of jobs are at risk and called for the furlough scheme to be extended beyond September if current restrictions continue.

Hundreds of travel workers including pilots and business owners marched on Westminster yesterday to demand that ministers ease restrictions threatening the industry (pictured)

Pilots and cabin crew who have been grounded for over a year were joined by travel business owners who told of being on the brink.

Around 400 protesters gathered outside the Commons as part of a Travel Day Of Action. Demonstrations were also held outside Holyrood and Stormont to lobby the Scottish and Northern Ireland governments and at airports including Bristol and Manchester.

Senior Tory MPs joined the Westminster protest, including Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Sir Graham Brady, former minister Steve Baker and transport committee chairman Huw Merriman, who called on ministers to use the success of the vaccine rollout to reboot international travel. 

Richard Mann, 56, a pilot for travel giant Tui, said it was the biggest crisis the aviation industry had ever faced, stressing: ‘Everyone’s worried for their livelihoods.

‘If there was a clear reason for travel being shut down to the extent it is now, we would take that on the chin, but there just doesn’t seem to be.

‘Infection rates in the Balearic Islands and others are lower than we have here, so why are they shut off?

‘You see thousands packing themselves on to Bournemouth beach. Is that keeping people safe? It doesn’t make sense.’

Mark Tanzer, of travel industry group Abta, said some members had been forced to take new jobs as call centre workers and Amazon delivery drivers to make ends meet, adding: ‘It’s really heart-breaking.’

Sir Graham said ministers must ensure a ‘viable summer season’ is salvaged. He insisted: ‘There are over one million jobs at stake – as well as people’s freedom to see their family overseas or to go on holiday.’ Mr Merriman warned: ‘The sector is haemorrhaging jobs.’ 

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