Green list boost as government 'keen to add as many countries as possible' this summer

BORIS Johnson wants to add "as many countries as possible" to the travel green list this summer, a top minister declared today.

Justice secretary Robert Buckland said the Government wants to make it as easy as possible for Brits to jet off for a break in the sun.

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Asked about the green list, he said: "Clearly we're very keen to see as many countries as possible on that list.

"Because that means more opportunities for holidaymakers and the sort of ease of transport that clearly makes a holiday a much more pleasant experience.

"We'll continue where we see the evidence to add countries or indeed sometimes to take them off if we see the evidence going the other way."

His remarks raise the prospect of more countries being added to the green list within weeks, with the next review due on June 7.

And even more destinations are also expected to be approved in a wider review of how the traffic light travel system is working on June 28.

Yesterday the transport secretary Grant Shapps said he's pushing for more holiday hotspots to be opened up as soon as possible.

He wants extra destinations to be made quarantine-free as their vaccination rates catch up with the UK.

There are calls for many favourite European haunts including Spain, France, and Italy to be opened up soon.

But Mr Shapps also refused three times to call Brits holidaying in amber list countries "irresponsible" – despite insisting nobody should do so.

His remarks came just hours after Matt Hancock raised eyebrows by insisting Government advice on foreign trips has been "crystal clear".

Ministers have been panned over their mixed messaging on whether tourism to orange destinations – including most of the continent – is allowed.

Asked if he's pushing for more countries to be turned green, Mr Shapps replied: "Yeah of course. That list should expand.

"Of course I expect the green list to expand, but we're doing this very cautiously.

"I don't think there's any reason not to expand the green list as we get other countries up to very high levels of vaccination."

He added: "Our message is very straightforward which is just a little bit of patience everyone, I know it's been an incredibly tough year.

"As other countries catch up with our world leading vaccination programme people will be able to travel.

"We are returning to a world which looks more normal, I hope."

Currently just 12 countries are on the green list, of which Portugal is the only major European holiday destination.

Many favourites with Brits are still stuck on amber, meaning travel to them is discouraged but not banned.

Mr Shapps said reports that almost 300,000 people will fly to those countries this week were wide of the mark.

But he also refused three times when pressed to call those who do holiday there "irresponsible".

He would only reply: "The guidance is not to. We've said that you should only go to our countries in exceptional circumstances.

"There are extreme circumstances where people will feel it's the right thing to do.

"Perhaps because they have a sick family member and some extreme situations where they'll travel in the orange category."

Boris Johnson has signalled a shift away from lockdown rules to personal responsibility as the country regains its freedom.

After a snail-paced start Europe's vaccination rollout has finally begun to kick into gear, raising hopes of a proper holiday season.

France, Italy, and Spain have both now vaccinated a third of their populations and given two doses to one in seven.

All three are slightly ahead of Portugal on jabs, but for now have much higher case rates which is why they haven't made the green list.

Some diplomats have also raised concerns that Europe may not want to open up to Brits because of fears over the Indian variant.

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