Mr Shapps confirmed the Government is working on a “traffic light” system of grading countries in order to allow foreign travel to restart. He stressed that May 17 would be the “earliest” people could be allowed travel.
However, the Government was accused of looking after the wealthy, with holidaymakers returning from low-risk destinations having to take an “expensive and unnecessary” type of coronavirus test.
Mr Shapps told Sky News: “My advice today would be moving on from where we were before. I’m not telling people that they shouldn’t book summer holidays and that’s the first time I’ve been able to say that for many months.
“But I think everybody doing it understands there are risks with coronavirus and of course actually I think people would want to be clear about which countries are going to be in the different traffic light system and people predominantly will be looking to book in a green country. So there’s only two or three weeks to wait before we publish that list itself.
“But yes, tentative progress. For the first time people can start to think about visiting loved ones abroad or perhaps a summer holiday. But we are doing it very cautiously as we don’t want to see any return of coronavirus in this country.”
The Government is also working with the travel industry and private testing providers to reduce the cost of foreign trips after complaints about the price of test kits.
According to the rules, those travelling from Green countries will not need to self-isolate but will have to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on day two of their arrival in the UK.
Under Amber, travellers will have self-isolate for 10 days, unless they receive a negative result from a test taken at least five days after arrival. They will have to take a pre-departure test and PCR tests on day two and day eight of their arrival in the UK.
According to the Red category, people will have to spend 11 days in a quarantine hotel. They will have to take a pre-departure test and PCR tests on day two and day eight of their arrival in the UK.
The categories will be “kept under review” with a “particular focus on variants of concern”, the Department for Transport said.
They are due to be “formally reviewed” on June 28, with further reviews taking place no later than July 31 and October 1.
A “Green Watchlist” will be introduced to identify countries most at risk of moving from “green” to “amber”.