Alok Sharma's red list trips without self-isolation branded 'bizarre and dangerous'

6 August 2021, 08:21 | Updated: 6 August 2021, 08:28

By Will Taylor

More accusations of "one rule for them" have been raised at Government ministers after reports that the climate tsar travelled to red list countries without isolating upon return.

Alok Sharma, who is responsible for the global climate summit COP26 later this year, did not need to isolate despite visiting places like Bangladesh, the Daily Mail reports.

The minister, who is now travelling South America, including red list Brazil, is exempt as a "Crown servant", the newspaper said.

Shadow justice secretary and Labour MP David Lammy told LBC: "That's hugely worrying. I mean, the lack of self-isolation is bizarre and dangerous.

"And I think that it is probably impossible not to fly, of course, but I think he should be leading by example clearly."

For the vast majority of Brits, travel to red list destinations is unviable, with them having to quarantine in a Government-approved hotel for 10 days upon return and pay £2,285 to do so.

They risk a fine of £10,000 if they fail to quarantine after returning.

Read more: Johnson and Sunak will now self-isolate after U-turning on daily Covid testing pilot

Read more: Fully-vaccinated arrivals from France no longer need to isolate amid green list changes

The news follows the anger that broke out when Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were initially said to be avoiding self-isolating after becoming close contacts of health secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for Covid.

They agreed to isolate after considering using a Downing Street daily testing scheme.

Previously, cabinet office minister Michael Gove managed to avoid isolating when his NHS app pinged him after he flew to Portugal to watch the Champions League final. He used daily tests.

Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrats' transport spokesperson, said: "As usual with this Government, it's one rule for them and another for everybody else.

"While Alok Sharma flies to red-list countries with abandon, hard-working families can hardly see loved ones or plan holidays as the Government changes travel rules on the hoof."

The Mail reported that Mr Sharma's allies defended him, and a source said: "Face-to-face diplomacy is vital to securing commitments from key countries at COP26. All UK government ministers who travel abroad are subject to the same rules on quarantine and to a Covid secure testing regime."

Mr Sharma has reportedly travelled to at least 30 countries, of which six were on the red list.

The report comes as transport secretary Grant Shapps defended the traffic light scheme amid criticism it has been overcomplicated and inhibited the travel industry.

With countries ranked green, amber or red based on their Covid situation, modifications to the lists have been attacked for creating uncertainty for would-be holidaymakers.

There is a green watchlist for countries that could go amber, while an amber watchlist for countries that could go red was recently scrapped after the idea was criticised.

Mr Shapps said there should be no changes to the travel rules for the rest of August.

"Last year we had a travel corridor system… countries were either on the corridor or off the corridor, and everybody rightly said 'actually, that's a pretty blunt instrument'," he told LBC on Thursday.

"We've got a traffic light system because it enables people to get a bit more of a sense of what's going on within that detail, and I personally believe it's always a good idea to provide people with detail, against which we don't want a system which is over-complicated."