Both doses of the coronavirus vaccine will “forever more” be needed to travel abroad, the transport secretary has suggested.
Grant Shapps saidon Thursday that most countries will require proof of being double jabbed for entry, with Covid changing the rules on international travel for good.
Shapps was questioned over the changes to UK travel rules after it was announced on Wednesday that France, India and the UAE are being moved to the amber list, while countries including Germany, Slovenia and Austria have been put on the green list.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It is a reality in this new world we are living with coronavirus…
“I think double vaccination is going to be a feature forever more and most countries, probably all countries, will require full vaccination in order for you to enter.”
Spain has avoided being given red status, but the government is urging travellers to take a PCR test before they fly home from the country.
Tory MP Huw Merriman, chairman of the Transport Select Committee, criticised the use of "expensive" PCR tests, and described them as an "unnecessary rip-off".
He said the "barrier for affordable travel needs to stop", urging the government to allow for cheaper lateral flow tests to be used instead, with PCR used if that test comes back positive.
When asked by Sky News whether Spain could return to the red list for travel destinations in future, Shapps replied: “With coronavirus you can never say there is zero chance.
“But having said that, the levels of vaccination and what we now know about the virus and what our scientists have been able to work out in the last year means that people should be able to go away, enjoy their holidays without looking over their shoulders the whole time and as I say, the next set of changes are not for another three weeks.”
People returning to the UK from amber list countries don’t have to isolate if they are fully vaccinated.
The traffic light system for travel has been the subject of some criticism but Shapps insisted it was a “simplified system” which will allow people to “enjoy their holidays”.
But shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said the traffic-light system was so “baffling” that ministers were “confusing themselves”.
He added last week: “We cannot continue to rely on the government’s interpretation of the figures, particularly when they are seemingly only capable of updating the public and the travel industry either via the press or social media."
Layla Moran, the chair of the All-Party Group on Coronavirus, said that the government’s lack of a "comprehensive" border policy is resulting in "incoherent messaging at home and abroad".
She added that the changes are a "slapdash approach" that will "only continue to undermine public confidence in government decisions, at a time when clarity and caution are crucial".
The changes to the travel lists come into force at 4am on Sunday.
Quarantine hotel costs for those returning from red list countries are rising to “better reflect the increased costs involved”, according to the government.
From August 12 the rate for solo travellers will rise from £1,750 to £2,285, while additional adults sharing a room will see their bill hiked from £650 to £1,430.