Boris Johnson’s father has travelled to Greece to prepare his second home as a holiday let despite strict Foreign Office advice against all but essential international travel.
Stanley Johnson posted on his public Instagram page on Wednesday evening wearing a face mask in an airport queue and boasted of arriving in Athens in a separate post to his 140,000 followers.
Due to to Greece extending its ban on flights arriving in the country from the UK until the middle of July, the prime minister’s father was reported to have travelled to the country’s capital via Bulgaria.
The Foreign Office still advises British citizens against all but essential international travel due to the pandemic and under current quarantine rules, anyone arriving in the UK must also self-isolate for 14 days.
Attempting to explain his trip, Mr Johnson told the Daily Mail: “I’m in Pelion on essential business trying to Covid-proof my property in view of the upcoming letting season. I need to set up distancing measures at the property because they’re taking it very seriously here.”
He continued: “The Greeks are trying to stop bulk arrivals from the UK but they were quite happy to have me coming in. All they wanted to know where I was coming from and what I was doing. Then I had my temperature taken and was swabbed twice.
“We must get these air bridges set up as soon as possible. From what I’ve seen the arrival of the British will not be a danger to the Greeks because they’re so careful here.”
His trip, however, drew criticism from MPs, including Labour’s Rosena Allin-Khan, who said: “Most people have been following the guidelines and socially distancing – not everyone will get a holiday this year.Those closest to the prime minister have different rules though.”
The Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael added: The Foreign Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel – yet here we see the prime minister’s father flouting these very rules. This is simply further evidence that when it comes to following the rules, it is one rule for the Conservatives and one rule for everyone else.”
Mr Johnson’s comments on air bridges also come as the government prepares to reverse the contentious blanket quarantine on arrivals to the UK from 6 July after sustained criticism from both Conservative MPs and the tourism industry.
Ministers had been expected to announce a list of countries that would be exempt from the quarantine this week, but details have not been been published.
Appearing in the Commons on Thursday, the transport secretary Grant Shapps indicated plans to exempt certain countries from travel restrictions have been delayed by Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
Mr Shapps told the SNP transport spokesperson Gavin Newlands: “I’d appreciate his help in ensuring that air bridges can get going as quickly as possible. I’m very keen to get the devolved administrations, including the Scottish government, on board so we can get this thing announced.”