Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab refused to rule out the creation of a new “amber watchlist” when asked last week, and the controversy around the potential new category continues to rumble on.

The Government has already muddled its traffic light system by adding a “green watchlist” and, more recently, the “amber plus” list.

Key figures in the travel industry have criticised the Government for complicating the system.

What is the ‘amber watchlist’?

The “amber watchlist” does not exist yet – and may never be brought in – but if it is, it will work in the same way as the “green watchlist”.

Countries on the watchlist could move from amber to red at short notice. Anyone returning to the UK from a red list country must quarantine in a designated hotel for 10 days, at a cost of £1,750 per person.

Asked by Sky News’ Kay Burley about a potential “amber watchlist”, the Foreign Secretary said: “I can’t rule things that the Joint Biosecurity Centre and the Government will decide, but they’ll make that decision next week in terms of the traffic light system for all the relevant countries.

“But I think personally it feels like the momentum forward is positive, because as I say because the double vaccination reaching 70 per cent of the adult population in this country.

“We’ve done the job we had to do domestically, and as we see other countries catch up if you like, I think we’re increasingly confident that more countries will go on either on amber or onto green.”

Tourists sunbathe in Playa del Ingles in Spain (Photo: Reuters)

Since Mr Raab’s comments, the Government has faced a backlash over the proposals, with MPs and figures from the travel industry decrying the “inexplicably complicated” approach.

It is thought that the watchlist was set to be signed off on Thursday 29 July, before a split within the Government.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said on Monday that a travel watchlist provides people with more information so they can make “informed decisions”.

He told Sky News: “The point of the watch list that you refer to is to try and give people a sense of the direction of travel that a country is going in, it’s to try and provide people with as much information as possible when they make those decisions about where they might want to go on holiday.

“Of course it is… great news to be opening up, that people who are coming back from amber list countries don’t need to be quarantining, that’s a good sign of the direction that this country is going in thanks to the vaccination programme, but we do have to bear in mind that other countries are in a range of other positions.”

However, Huw Merriman, the Tory chairman of the Commons transport committee, said the plans were a “giant red flag” that would cause bookings to collapse.

Which countries could be added?

The main concerns are around Spain – the most popular holiday destination for Brits.

On Monday the latest figures showed that Spain is reporting 23,802 new infections on average each day, lower than the UK’s average of 26,107.

However, Spain has a seven-day incidence rate of 353 per 100,000 people, compared to the UK which sits at 273 per 100,000.

These figures have begun to stabilise recently, with deputy health minister Silvia Calzon telling a news briefing last week: “It looks like we are starting to observe a deceleration in the incidence’s rhythm of growth”.

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Spain also has one of the highest rates of vaccination in Europe, with almost 60 per cent of residents fully vaccinated.

Asked whether people considering booking holidays to Spain should do so, Mr Raab said “you’ll know next week”. He said if they have to book before then they would “have to base it on the traffic light system we’ve got in place right now”.

There have also been rumours that Italy could be added to any potential “amber watchlist”.

When is the next travel review?

The Government is reviewing the traffic-light system every three weeks.

This means the next review should either be on Wednesday 4 or Thursday 5 August.

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The announcements have normally been on Thursdays, but the Transport Secretary moved the most recent update forward by a day.

The Department for Transport said: “These regular review points will allow the Government to balance helping the public to understand Covid requirements when travelling to England while allowing us to constantly evaluate the risk for different countries.”

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