Airports are expecting their busiest day of the year, with the easing of global travel restrictions from today predicted to trigger a stampede as the Government’s traffic light system comes into force.

Britain’s five busiest airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester and Luton – are expecting to operate 124 flights to amber list countries today alone, including 23 to Spain, the Times has reported.

Manchester Airport alone revealed it was expecting to handle 91 flights today, up by two thirds on Monday, as a ban on non-essential global travel is lifted – allowing British holidaymakers to jet overseas for the first time since the end of last year.

The traffic light system rates countries as green, amber or red based on the risk of importing coronavirus into Britain, with those going to green list countries such as Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel free to travel without quarantining on return.

Downing Street listed just 12 green destinations, while 43 including covid-stricken India are on the red list – which forces any travellers to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1,750 when they get back to the UK.

However, Matt Hancock risked jeopardising summer plans last night after discouraging holidaymakers from travelling to whole swathes of Europe despite most of the continent being on the amber list for travel.

The Health Secretary said people should not travel to amber countries except for essential reasons and ‘certainly not’ for a holiday as scientists claimed parts of Europe were ‘largely unvaccinated’ – making it vulnerable to the Indian covid variant.

Sir John Bell, a member of the Government’s vaccine taskforce, yesterday suggested that lockdown-weary Britons take holidays to Cornwall or Bournemouth instead of European countries.

But the remarks were slammed by travel bosses who accused the Government of needlessly ‘instilling fear’ by warning against holidays abroad, with one industry executive suggesting Downing Street’s real concern was the shortage of border staff to police arrivals.

The first passengers at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 departures taking advantage of the easing of travel restrictions

The first passengers at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 departures taking advantage of the easing of travel restrictions

A passenger in a hazmat suit is seen in Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 this morning

A passenger in a hazmat suit is seen in Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 this morning

Small queues of holidaymakers who will be jetting off overseas for a break as travel restrictions are eased

Small queues of holidaymakers who will be jetting off overseas for a break as travel restrictions are eased

The first passengers at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 departures taking advantage of the easing of travel restrictions

The first passengers at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 departures taking advantage of the easing of travel restrictions

The first passengers at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 departures taking advantage of the easing of travel restrictions

The first passengers at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 departures taking advantage of the easing of travel restrictions

Small queues of holidaymakers who will be jetting off overseas for a break as travel restrictions are eased

Small queues of holidaymakers who will be jetting off overseas for a break as travel restrictions are eased

The traffic light system rates countries as green, amber or red based on the risk of importing coronavirus into Britain, with those going to green list countries such as Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel free to travel without quarantining on return

The traffic light system rates countries as green, amber or red based on the risk of importing coronavirus into Britain, with those going to green list countries such as Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel free to travel without quarantining on return

The Health Secretary’s order, made during a media round yesterday, infuriated the travel industry, which said that people are ‘voting with their feet’ and going ahead with long-awaited trips to see relatives abroad.

Paul Charles, chief executive and founder of the respected travel firm The PC Agency, said the Government was ‘trying to play down travel’ because of concerns about border staff shortages.

He said: ‘The Government has to change its message. It is not illegal to travel, you can travel safely and responsibly to any country if they will let you in. And many British travellers will want to see their families who they haven’t seen in over a year. Now is the time to travel safely. But they are still trying to instil fear into people at a time when the most vulnerable have been jabbed and mortalities are at a record low.’

The travel expert said that ticket sales data showed that people were ignoring the amber list advice and booking trips to coincide with the end of the official travel ban.

Booking website Skyscanner found bookings to Italy increased by 63 per cent week on week once the relaxation of travel restrictions was announced. Bookings to France rose by 41 per cent and Spain bookings went up by 39 per cent. In comparison, bookings to Portugal rose by 616 per cent.

A passenger in a hazmat suit is seen in Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 this morning

A passenger in a hazmat suit is seen in Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 this morning

The first passengers at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 departures taking advantage of the easing of travel restrictions

The first passengers at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 departures taking advantage of the easing of travel restrictions

Small queues of holidaymakers who will be jetting off overseas for a break as travel restrictions are eased

Small queues of holidaymakers who will be jetting off overseas for a break as travel restrictions are eased

The departures board at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 this morning as global travel restrictions are eased today

The departures board at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 this morning as global travel restrictions are eased today

The UK's daily death toll has doubled on last week, from two on May 9 to four yesterday - bringing the UK total to 127,679. Daily covid cases across the country rose by eight per cent in a week, according to official figures

The UK’s daily death toll has doubled on last week, from two on May 9 to four yesterday – bringing the UK total to 127,679. Daily covid cases across the country rose by eight per cent in a week, according to official figures

Mr Charles added: ‘The traffic light system is in danger of being out of date before the bulk of it comes into practice because people will vote with their feet.’

Tim Alderslade, of industry body Airlines UK, said: ‘The whole point of the tiers system is that restrictions are built in to mitigate the risk. We strongly believe that the green list can be extended at the next review point to include the most popular European destinations and the United States.’

Almost the whole of Europe, North America and large parts of the Middle East and East Asia are on the Government’s amber list, with people returning from these countries required to quarantine. However, they can leave isolation if they have a negative PCR test taken on day five.

Tour operators including Tui, easyJet Holidays and British Airways Holidays are planning to run trips to countries including Malta, Antigua and the Canary Islands – with Tui yesterday offering up to 51 per cent off holidays to the Canaries as early as next week.

The Government has said it will review the green list every three weeks, starting early next month.

Post source: Daily Mail

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