Theresa May has heavily criticised the government’s international travel restrictions.
The former prime minister said “global Britain looks shut for business” with its “chaotic” traffic light system, the Evening Standard has reported.
Despite the fact that all people over 50 years old will be fully vaccinated by 21 June, strict travel rules are still in place.
Speaking during a parliamentary debate on aviation, travel and tourism, May said the government has failed to keep its June 2020 promise to get internationally-agreed standard health measures in place.
Vaccinated but more restricted
She said: “One year on, we are no further forward – what we have is a devastated industry, jobs lost and global Britain shut for business. More than not being any further forward, we’ve gone backwards.
“We now have over 50 per cent of the adult population vaccinated, yet we’re more restricted on travel than we were last year.
“In 2020, I went to Switzerland in August, South Korea in September, there was no vaccine and travel was possible – this year there is a vaccine, travel is not possible. I really don’t understand the stance the government is taking.”
The current travel system in the UK involves countries being placed under the green, amber or red list.
‘Traffic light’ travel system frowned upon
Travellers coming from a country on the green list are not required by the government to self-isolate – but very few countries are placed on this list, the least amount of nations when compared to the amber and red lists.
Amber list arrivals must quarantine at home for 10 days and take a test before arriving in the UK and two other private tests whilst self-isolating.
Travellers from red list countries are forced to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for ten days, which costs £1,750.
May slammed the amber list travel messaging as “mixed”, after ministers made conflicting public statements on the topic.
‘Get on with life’
She said: “I think there are some facts the government needs to be upfront with the British people about and ministers need to think a bit more of when making these decisions.
“First, we will not eradicate Covid-19 from the UK. There will not be a time when we can say that there will never be another case of Covid-19 in this country.
“Secondly, variants will keep on coming. There will be new variants every year. If the government’s position is that we cannot open up travel until there are no new variants elsewhere in the world then we will never be able to travel abroad ever again.
“And the third fact that the government needs to state much more clearly is that sadly people will die from Covid here in the UK in the future, as 10,000 to 20,000 people do every year from flu.”
May warned that the government “needs to decide whether it wants an airline industry and aviation sector” in the UK.
She added: “It is incomprehensible that one of the most heavily vaccinated countries in the world is one that is most reluctant to give its citizens the freedoms those vaccinations should support.”
On Monday, Boris Johnson is due to announce the government’s plans on the 21 June easing of lockdown restrictions.