Quarantine-free travel for Brits who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 could be in place by 26 July, it has been reported.
The plans would allow those who have had two doses of a vaccine to avoid the mandatory 10-day self-isolation period currently in place for all amber list countries, essentially opening up travel to all of Europe.
Ministers are aiming to introduce the change by the end of this month, according to The Times, just in time for the first full week of the school holidays.
Opening up travel to Europe
The relaxed quarantine rules would initially only apply to UK residents with access to the NHS, but it is understood that a deal to extend it to all citizens of the European Union is close to being signed.
The UK government is looking to replace the quarantine requirement with daily Covid-19 testing instead, although it has not been clinically advised yet.
UK ambassadors in Europe have been told to make lobbying for the lifting of restrictions on UK holidaymakers their priority as more destinations were added to the green list this month.
The Home Office has not yet confirmed whether the verification of Covid certification will take place before passengers travel, at border control, or via spot checks by officials.
Vision Box, the company that operates all of the UK’s e-passport gates, has said it has the technology to scan vaccination certificates from both the UK and the EU ready to go.
The UK is said to be close to agreeing to a deal with Brussels which will ensure UK travellers are able to use the NHS app to prove they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, but at the moment, the UK government is having to co-ordinate with countries individually.
Rules to be changed in time for summer holidays
The appointment of Sajid Javid as the new Health Secretary has brought the target date for introducing quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated Brits forward, according to government sources, with ministers hoping he will make a big change to the government’s approach to international travel.
A senior government source told The Times: “No final decision has been made on timing yet. There are various issues that need to be worked through and we are waiting for public health advice on exemptions and operational factors.
“Those need to be worked through before we set out further details but the expectation is it will be the end of July or the beginning of August.”
More green list additions
Malta, the Balearic Islands, Madeira and some Caribbean Islands are among the new countries and territories that were added to the green list on Wednesday (30 June).
All of the new destinations, with the exception of Malta, have also been put on a ‘watch list’, along with Israel and Jerusalem, meaning they are at risk of being moved back onto amber.
The next travel update is due to take place on 28 June, after which it is hoped more countries will be added to the green list.
The current limited ability to travel abroad has prompted Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group, which owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands Airports, to prepare to take legal action, with both calling for greater transparency on how Whitehall decides which countries are added to the green, amber and red lists.
Covid-19 vaccination status is recorded on the main NHS app and now shows proof if people have had the jabs.
Six million people have already downloaded the app and it is expected that Brits will need to use it to show proof they have been vaccinated when entering other countries.