Travelling is “dangerous” and “not for this year”, a health minister said on Tuesday, amid deepening confusion over the government’s line on overseas travel.
The comments by Tory frontbencher Lord Bethell follow Monday’s lifting of the ban on non-essential international travel in the latest easing of lockdown restrictions.
According to the UK’s new travel traffic lights system, people can now go on an overseas break to a limited number of green list destinations without having to quarantine on their return.
But Lord Bethell indicated on Tuesday afternoon that people should not be going abroad at all this year, stressing that “travel is dangerous” due to difficulties over segregation during the journey, including at airports.
He made his remarks amid continuing concern over the rise in cases of the highly transmissible Indian coronavirus variant in parts of England.
Speaking at Westminster, Lord Bethell told peers: “Travelling is dangerous. That is not news to us or to the people who get on those planes in the first place.
“We do ask people, particularly as we go into the summer, travelling is not for this year, please stay in this country.”
The message was very different to the one given out in the morning by cabinet minister George Eustice.
Asked why more than 150 planes left for amber destinations on Monday, Mr Eustice told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We don’t want to stop travel altogether and the reason, as Matt Hancock set out, that we have the amber list is there will be reasons why people feel they need to travel either to visit family or indeed to visit friends.”
Watch: Which lockdown restrictions have now lifted in England?
But Boris Johnson later warned that people should not go on holiday in “amber list” countries.
The Prime Minister said it was “very important for people to grasp” that places on the list should not be considered holiday destinations.
Speaking on a visit to a vaccination centre in Islington, Mr Johnson said: “It is not somewhere you should be going on holiday, let me be very clear about that.”
Nursing academic Baroness Watkins of Tavistock called on the Government to consider the use of electronic “tagging” of people in quarantine, similar to that used in South Korea to contain the spread of infection.
Lord Bethell said he was grateful for the “creative” suggestion.
He said: “The good news is the number of absconding residents at managed quarantine is minimal. It can be counted on one hand and many of them have been retrieved.
“The bad news is that the positivity rate in managed quarantine is far too high.
“It is clearly true that far too many people are getting on planes when they are infected and far too many are catching the disease while they are on their travels.”
Watch: Where can I go on holiday?