Brits could go on quarantine-free holidays to amber countries after two jabs
Holidays: Expert on possibility of travel for vaccinated Brits
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The Government is exploring whether fully vaccinated travellers could be given the go-ahead to go to “amber list” countries. Treasury Minister Jesse Norman yesterday said he “wouldn’t write anything off” – offering hope to millions of pandemic-weary families. It was revealed that Covid passports could allow those visiting amber list countries to avoid having to self-isolate on their return.
These nations include a large number of popular European destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Portugal.
The United States is also on the amber list but is currently barring UK tourists.
The Department for Transport confirmed that it is considering how vaccinations could be used for inbound travel to the UK. More than half of adults have received both doses, putting it far ahead of other European countries.
Such a move would come as a much-needed tonic for the travel industry, which has been severely impacted by the pandemic, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
Mr Norman said: “This is one of those things that is being considered. We don’t want to get left behind by countries which may be adopting a two-jabs approach if it can be done safely, carefully and securely.”
Whitehall sources said there were no imminent plans to introduce the major change to the Government’s traffic light system for foreign travel.
However, Mr Norman added: “We are trying to move cautiously and progressively in the right direction so I wouldn’t write anything off. But then, we are in a situation where the virus is not something we control. We have seen this new Delta variant, therefore it would be imprudent to make any firm statement now.”
Asked about more freedom for double-jabbed travellers, Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden told Sky News: “Of course, we are keeping this under review and if we can find a way of making it work, we will make it work.”
Other issues that need to be considered is how any rules would apply to children and whether a change for those with two jabs would encourage people not fully vaccinated to flout guidance.
People in the UK are currently advised not to travel to amber list countries apart from a limited number of reasons, such as attending a funeral.
On return they must quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days, taking a Covid-19 test on or before day two and on or after day eight.
They can also pay for an extra test on day five which, if negative, means an early release from isolation.
Downing Street said no decision has been made on whether to ease travel restrictions for people who have received two jabs.
Asked whether he could confirm if they could be exempt from quarantine rules, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “We want people to travel abroad as soon as it is safe to do so. At this stage our approach is the right one but we keep our measures under review.
“On double vaccinations, no decisions have been made on that.” But aviation industry chiefs swiftly seized on the chance that the traffic light system could be relaxed.
EasyJet said it would welcome any easing in quarantine and the need for testing.
A spokeswoman said: “A number of other countries have already implemented this, while much of Europe plans to implement it in the coming weeks.
“So it is right that British citizens should be able to take advantage of the success of the vaccination programme in this way.”
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “The Government is confident that vaccinations are effective.
“So surely people who have been fully vaccinated should be able to travel without the need to quarantine or take expensive PCR tests.”
Comment by Nigel Thompson
Passport, sunglasses, cossie, hat, flip-flops, TWO JABS? Yes! Get us to the sun-kissed beaches of Europe and beyond.
After 16 long months of holiday dismay could there be some light at the end of the travel tunnel?
Of course, any new scheme for double-vaccinated people must be introduced with public safety at the forefront as there are highly transmissible variants circulating.
But this news may just be the moment we first heard the bugles of the Costas cavalry charging over the hill to save the holiday hopes of millions and rescue the traumatised UK travel industry.
Whatever you think of the Government at the onset of this horrendous pandemic, they have implemented the jab rollout with incredible success.
So it seems reasonable to consider allowing double-jabbed, lockdown-weary holidaymakers to travel to amber list destinations without the need to quarantine on their return, just as 400,000 Germans jetted to Majorca in May.
This would open up Spain, France, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta and Italy as well as the US, Canada and Mexico, the Caribbean and South-east Asia (subject to any entry restrictions for Brits).
Restarting meaningful leisure travel for part of the main summer season will also give the travel industry a chance of salvation.
Make no mistake, the UK travel trade, which normally pours billions into the Chancellor’s coffers each year and employs hundreds of thousands of people, is fighting for its life and there is a lobby of Parliament next Wednesday calling for a safe restart of international leisure travel and tailored support.
Will there be cries of “discrimination” from younger people without a second jab? Yes, and who can blame them? But hopefully the rollout means as many as possible get the chance.
We’ve had Pfizers, AstraZenecas and Modernas, now get us to the sun for Pilsners, Aperol Spritzes and Mojitos!
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