A government minister has said people in Tier 3 areas should avoid travelling within the UK – but that they can go skiing abroad.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the government would not tell people in the very high alert coronavirus areas of England that they cannot leave the country.
Boris Johnson announced on Monday that England’s three-tier system will be toughened up when the national lockdown ends on 2 December.
On Tuesday, Shapps revealed that travellers arriving in England will be able to reduce their 14-day quarantine period with a negative COVID-19 test after five days. The measure will be introduced from 15 December.
Watch: Passengers will be able to end quarantine with negative test
Asked whether people would be allowed to go on holiday under the new system, Shapps told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you are in Tier 3 you should ideally avoid travelling outside your area, unless it’s for education and work.
“If you are going straight to an airport and you’re going abroad and where you’re going, of course, has restrictions in place, but all of that aside, that is something you can do.
“We are dissuading people travelling around generally from the very high tier areas. You can go abroad.
“But, of course there is a penalty to pay for that in terms of having a potential quarantine period when you come back or indeed a test.”
When asked if people in Tier 3 areas could go abroad for a ski trip, he said: “We do think that it’s important as a global country, an island, that people are able to sometimes join up with family abroad, or indeed do business abroad, so we’re not as a government in the business of telling people they can’t travel.”
Shapps advised anyone travelling abroad after the lockdown to check the official government and Foreign Office advice for their destination.
He said: “I’m not trying to tell people what they should and shouldn’t do with regard to travel – that’s for each individual person – but there are a lot of things to consider before you travel.”
The incoming rules mean passengers who arrive from a destination not on the government’s travel corridor list will still need to enter self-isolation.
They can reduce the 14-day period by paying for a test from a private firm on or after day five at a cost of between £65 and £120.
Results will normally be issued in 24 to 48 hours. This means people could be released from quarantine six days after arrival.
The change does not apply to people arriving in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, who must continue to self-isolate for 14 days.
However, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary was sceptical about the move.
He told the BBC: “I think the idea is not very well thought-out.
“I think the problem with this system in the UK is that you only have to isolate for five days. And we know that people simply don’t isolate.”
O’Leary said it would be more effective to test passengers before they get on a flight.
In response, Shapps said: “At the moment, from a medical science point of view, that doesn’t really work.
“You need to have a period during which the incubation could have taken place, during which people haven’t been mixing with others.”
Watch: Shapps says quarantine cut will help airlines
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