Northern Ireland news

Health minister 'wouldn't encourage' anyone to go abroad on holiday despite green list expansion

Health Minister Robin Swann said he and his family will be holidaying in Northern Ireland and he would not suggest anyone travels this summer. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire

HEALTH Minister Robin Swann said he "wouldn't encourage" anyone to go abroad on holiday, despite his department's expansion of the green `safe' travel list of countries and the prospect of a vaccine passport scheme.

Mr Swann said the decision to add to the green list is part of a UK-wide approach by ministers and advisors from all four regions.

From 4am on June 30 Spain's Balearic Islands, Malta and Madeira, the Caribbean's Antigua, Barbados, Barbuda, Dominica and Grenada and UK overseas territories Anguilla and Montserrat, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Pitcairn, and Turks and Caicos Islands, will no longer require people entering the UK to quarantine.

The move has drawn criticism as it comes against a backdrop of concern voiced by scientific experts at the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.

"An assessment is made not only on the positivity rate of the countries were looking to bring onto the green list but also where we are regards to various variants of concern, and how the profiles are being carried out in those countries," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster.

He insisted the decisions were not "taken lightly" and only on an evidence basis.

Mr Swann said he and his family will be holidaying in Northern Ireland and he will not suggest anyone travels this summer.

"I wouldn’t encourage them to do it, It’s not in my place to encourage anyone to go anywhere specifically on holiday."

He said the traffic light travel system will be "with us for some time", but a "Covid verification system is being looked by a large number of countries".

"We're working with the World Health Organisation and the European Union to make sure they are recognised as well. That’s the work that continues to be done."

Mr Swann said there are negotiations the British government and EU about their Covid passport schemes working together, following threats from the latter to exclude EU travellers.

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