Brits with two Covid jabs ‘could be allowed to travel to amber list countries without quarantining’


Foreign destinations on the UK’s amber list and whether they are open or closed to UK visitors. 

Covid-weary Brits could yet have quarantine-free holidays abroad this year, a senior minister said today as it was confirmed that plans are being considered to allow double-jabbed tourists to travel abroad more freely.

Jesse Norman said he ‘wouldn’t write anything off’ as it was revealed that Covid passports could be used to allow UK visitors to amber list countries to avoid self-isolation on their return.

These countries include a large number of popular European holiday destinations, including 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 this morning that it was considering how vaccinations could be used for inbound travel to the UK. More than half of UK adults have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, putting it far ahead of Europe. 

Such a move would help placate the travel industry, which has been in a state of fury and panic for more than a year, demanding travel rules be eased to save thousands of jobs. 

The chief executive of Ryanair has called the UK’s travel policy ‘a shambles’, and such is the airline’s frustration that it now wants to sue the government over its ‘opaque’ system for classifying travel destinations as green, amber or red.

Mr Norman, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, today told Sky nothing was ruled out in considering how to re-open travel, but they would be cautious in introducing plans for so-called ‘vaccine passports’.

‘We are trying to move cautiously and progressively in the right direction so I wouldn’t write anything off at this point,’ he said. 

In what would be a huge boost to British holidaymakers and the UK travel industry, the Government is said to be looking at updating holiday rules to allow those who are double-jabbed to return from amber list countries without having to self-isolate. Pictured: People enjoy the a sunny day out at Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona earlier this month

In what would be a huge boost to British holidaymakers and the UK travel industry, the Government is said to be looking at updating holiday rules to allow those who are double-jabbed to return from amber list countries without having to self-isolate. Pictured: People enjoy the a sunny day out at Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona earlier this month

Mr Norman, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, today told Sky nothing was ruled out in considering how to re-open travel, but they would be cautious in introducing plans for so-called 'vaccine passports'

Mr Norman, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, today told Sky nothing was ruled out in considering how to re-open travel, but they would be cautious in introducing plans for so-called ‘vaccine passports’

The change could save summer holidays for many as Spain, Portugal, Greece and the United States are currently on the amber list. Under current rules, Britons must self-isolate for ten days on return

The change could save summer holidays for many as Spain, Portugal, Greece and the United States are currently on the amber list. Under current rules, Britons must self-isolate for ten days on return 

Currently, those travelling from countries on the amber list, which currently includes top holiday destinations such as Portugal, Spain and Greece, have to self-isolate on their arrival in the UK. Pictured: A sign at Heathrow showing the current traffic light system

Currently, those travelling from countries on the amber list, which currently includes top holiday destinations such as Portugal, Spain and Greece, have to self-isolate on their arrival in the UK. Pictured: A sign at Heathrow showing the current traffic light system

But, under the new plans, reported in the Telegraph today, those who have double-jabbed (pictured: A woman receives her jab at Belmont Health Centre in Harrow) will be allowed to follow green list guidance - which means they will have to take tests before and after travelling home

But, under the new plans, reported in the Telegraph today, those who have double-jabbed (pictured: A woman receives her jab at Belmont Health Centre in Harrow) will be allowed to follow green list guidance – which means they will have to take tests before and after travelling home 

Dr Fauci said we had been 'quite fortunate' that the Kent Alpha variant and the Indian Delta variant have been sensitive to the current vaccines

Dr Fauci said we had been ‘quite fortunate’ that the Kent Alpha variant and the Indian Delta variant have been sensitive to the current vaccines

Where would British holidaymakers be allowed to visit if the rules changed? 

A change to UK travel rules to allow quarantine-free travel to those double-jabbed would only be half the battle.

Potential holidaymakers will also have to satisfy local rules on visitors, with popular European countries all having their own requirements.

Here are how some of the most popular with Britons are currently operating:

France – Open to UK holidaymakers with negative Covid test result AND proof of two vaccinations

Spain – Open to UK holidaymakers, no requirement for negative tests or vaccination proof

Italy – Open to UK holidaymakers with negative Covid test result

Greece – Open to UK holidaymakers with negative Covid test result or proof of two vaccinations

Malta – Open to UK holidaymakers with negative Covid test result

Portugal – Open to UK holidaymakers with negative Covid test result

 

‘We are trying to move cautiously and progressively in the right direction, but we are in a situation where the virus is not something we control.

‘We have seen this new variant and therefore it would be imprudent to make any carte blanche or firm statement now.’

Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden later gave a similarly restrained view of the UK’s travel rules.

‘Of course we keep all these things under review but none of us want to stop anyone going on holiday. The reason we have these border restrictions is to help keep Covid under control,’ the Culture Secretary told Sky.

‘As soon as we are able to ease those restrictions in a way that is safe for public health, we will look to do so.’

Asked again about more freedom for double-jabbed travellers, he added: ‘Of course we are keeping this under review and if we can find a way of making it work, we will make it work.’

Under the new plans reported in the Telegraph today, those who have been double-jabbed will be allowed to follow green list guidance – which means they will have to take tests before and after travelling home.

Such a plan will open up the possibility of quarantine-free travel to most major holiday destinations in Europe and the US.

No10 this afternoon stressed that no decisions had yet been made, with the PM’s official spokesman saying: ‘As we have always set out, we want people to be able to travel abroad as soon as it is safe to do so.

‘Currently we have set out a traffic light system for international travel.

‘We are always learning more about the virus and its variants and at this stage in the pandemic our current approach is the right one but we keep our measures under review.

‘That was set out clearly in both the roadmap and the global travel task force report.

‘On the point about double vaccinations, absolutely no decisions have been made on that.’

It comes as, in a further boost to the travel industry, America’s chief medical advisor says Britons might be able to travel more freely to the US by the end of summer.

 ‘We have commenced work to consider the role of vaccinations in shaping a different set of health and testing measures for inbound travel,’ a DfT spokesman said today.

Is Britain’s Covid surge SLOWING? 

Britain’s surge in Covid cases that spooked Boris Johnson into delaying the end of lockdown may already be slowing down.

Official data show that the rate of increase in infections has halved in a week and the Covid Symptom Study estimated that 15,760 people are now getting sick each day, up only a third in a week after doubling a week earlier.

Professor Tim Spector, the King’s College London epidemiologist who runs the study, said: ‘The numbers this week seem to be slowing down, which is good news. Worrying areas with a high number of cases like Scotland, and the North West are starting to level off… I’m predicting based on past experience that, although we may not have reached the peak quite yet, within two weeks we will see cases beginning to drop again.’

He said the PM’s decision to put ‘Freedom Day’ on hold until mid-July was ‘probably necessary’ as his study showed that vaccines are doing a huge amount of heavy lifting and slashing case numbers.

A more detailed analysis showed that an estimated four times as many unvaccinated people are getting symptoms of the virus compared to those who have had both jabs.

Britain is scrambling to vaccinate as many people as possible in June to boost the nation’s chances of reopening on July 19, the rescheduled date. Everyone over the age of 21 is now eligible for a jab and 30.5million people are already fully vaccinated along with 42m who have had a single dose.

 

Under the current traffic light system, travellers returning from green list countries take Covid-19 tests but do not need to quarantine. Amber country arrivals must self-isolate, and red country arrivals must quarantine in a hotel. 

But in a sign of frustration among industry leaders over continuing restrictions, outspoken Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary today launched a blistering attack on ministers who he branded ‘incompetent’.   

It comes as the airline and bosses behind three English airports are today set to launch a legal challenge against the Government in a bid to force ministers to reveal their reasoning behind where countries are placed in its traffic light system.   

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has fought for tough border restrictions, is said to be ‘open’ to changing the traffic light system, with the double-jab policy one of the prime options.

A senior source told the Telegraph: ‘They haven’t definitely got there yet, but that’s the direction of travel. 

The plans are expected to be ready to be discussed by the Cabinet Covid operations committee. It is thought the plans could be discussed ahead of the next review of the traffic light system, which is due to take place on June 28. 

The source added: ‘It is still at an early stage and it is not clear whether it will be worked out in time for the end of the month. There is an awful lot to do. The devil is in the detail.’

The latest move would also bring the UK closer in line with at least 33 countries including France, Germany, Spain and Greece that exempt vaccinated travellers from quarantine.  

It comes as America’s chief medical advisor says Britons might be able to travel more freely to the US by the end of summer.

Dr Anthony Fauci said it was a ‘reasonably good prediction’ to think that people could expect to have an easier time moving between the two countries. 

He claimed that Britain could find itself in a ‘very favourable position’ thanks to the Government’s ‘prudent’ decision to delay the June 21 Freedom Day. 

Dr Fauci told ITV News: ‘You really can’t tell because things happen, variants occur, things happen with regards to infection. 

Dr Anthony Fauci said it was a 'reasonably good prediction' to think that people could expect to have an easier time moving between Britain and the US

Dr Anthony Fauci said it was a ‘reasonably good prediction’ to think that people could expect to have an easier time moving between Britain and the US 

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary and UK airport bosses will sue ‘incompetent’ Government today over holiday traffic light system 

Ryanair and bosses behind three major English airports are today preparing to take the Government to court over its travel traffic light system, which they say is bringing the industry to its knees.

The budget airline is set to be joined by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) – the operator of Manchester, East Midlands and Stansted airports – in launching a High Court challenge later today.

The legal bid will seek to force the Government to reveal how it decides which countries are placed on the green, amber and red travel lists.

It comes as outspoken Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary today blasted ministers as ‘incompetent’ in a scathing attack on the Government’s transport policy.

Speaking to the Telegraph, who first revealed Ryanair’s anticipated legal challenge, Mr O’Leary said: ‘I’ve never come across a more incompetent f****** front bench of ministers.

‘I have no faith in (Boris) Johnson’s government on any of these issues, having completely mismanaged the original lockdowns last year and the reopening now.’

On the upcoming legal challenge, he added: ‘[We are] trying to force the Government to at least either a) be more transparent [over the traffic light system], b) publish what exactly the thresholds are at which international travel … will be allowed to restart.

‘Or c) get some injunctive relief against the Government generally on the back of vaccines that says the longer lockdown is restricting people’s freedom of movement.’

He later told Sky News: ‘It’s typical of Boris Johnson’s Government, just making this stuff up as they go along. There is no green list.

‘What we keep calling for in the travel industry is, now that we have 80% of the adult population of Britain vaccinated, why can’t those people go on holidays to Portugal and Spain without restrictions? They’re already vaccinated.’

The Government says ‘traffic light system cautiously balances the reopening of international travel with managing the risk of imported variants’ and ‘ensures we keep the general public safe’. 

‘I think once they get more and more people vaccinated and get the people who’ve gotten a single dose to make sure they get their second dose, I think the UK is going to be in a very favourable position by the time we get to the end of the summer.’

But he also warned that richer countries must unite in an effort to help those who cannot vaccinate their populations, or another Covid variant could emerge and spread in Britain or the US.    

Dr Fauci said we had been ‘quite fortunate’ that the Kent Alpha variant and the Indian Delta variant have been sensitive to the current vaccines. 

When asked if coronavirus might be under control by September next year, Dr Fauci said: ‘I think in countries like the UK and the United States and other countries in the European Union, that will be the case. But it will really be solely dependent upon the degree of successful vaccination.’  

Ryanair and bosses behind three major English airports are today preparing to take the Government to court over its travel traffic light system, which they say is bringing the industry to its knees.

The budget airline is set to be joined by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) – the operator of Manchester, East Midlands and Stansted airports – in launching a High Court challenge later today. 

The legal bid will seek to force the Government to reveal how it decides which countries are placed on the green, amber and red travel lists. 

It comes as outspoken Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary today blasted ministers as ‘incompetent’ in a scathing attack on the Government’s transport policy.

Speaking to the Telegraph, who first revealed Ryanair’s anticipated legal challenge, Mr O’Leary said: ‘I’ve never come across a more incompetent f****** front bench of ministers.

‘I have no faith in (Boris) Johnson’s government on any of these issues, having completely mismanaged the original lockdowns last year and the reopening now.’

On the upcoming legal challenge, he added: ‘[We are] trying to force the Government to at least either a) be more transparent [over the traffic light system], b) publish what exactly the thresholds are at which international travel … will be allowed to restart.

‘Or c) get some injunctive relief against the Government generally on the back of vaccines that says the longer lockdown is restricting people’s freedom of movement.’ 

He later told Sky News: ‘It’s typical of Boris Johnson’s Government, just making this stuff up as they go along. There is no green list.

‘What we keep calling for in the travel industry is, now that we have 80% of the adult population of Britain vaccinated, why can’t those people go on holidays to Portugal and Spain without restrictions? They’re already vaccinated.’

The Government says ‘traffic light system cautiously balances the reopening of international travel with managing the risk of imported variants’ and ‘ensures we keep the general public safe’.

However the London-based World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said the Government must scrap the system, which it says has ‘wreaked havoc’ among consumers and businesses, in order to save hundreds of thousands of jobs.  

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary (pictured) today blasted Government ministers as 'incompetent' in a scathing attack on its transport policy

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary (pictured) today blasted Government ministers as ‘incompetent’ in a scathing attack on its transport policy

The budget airline is set to be joined by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) - the operator of Manchester, East Midlands and Stansted airports - in launching a High Court challenge later today. Pictured: Holidaymakers queue up at a Ryanair check in desk at Faro airport

 The budget airline is set to be joined by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) – the operator of Manchester, East Midlands and Stansted airports – in launching a High Court challenge later today. Pictured: Holidaymakers queue up at a Ryanair check in desk at Faro airport

‘Just off to deliver more vaccines!’ Breezy Matt Hancock brushes off Boris’s ‘f***** hopeless’ jibe 

Breezy Matt Hancock brushed off Boris Johnson’s ‘f****** hopeless’ jibe today, telling journalists he was ‘just off to deliver more vaccines’.

The Health Secretary tried to style out the storm over private messages revealed by Dominic Cummings as he left his London home this morning.

Meanwhile, a minister risked inflaming the row today by insisting he had ‘no idea’ whether the PM thinks the health secretary is ‘hopeless’.

However, after initially appearing unwilling to take sides in his round of interviews, Jesse Norman then switched to stress that Mr Johnson is a ‘massive supporter’ of Mr Hancock.

The extraordinary messages revealed by the maverick former No10 chief included brutal assessments by Mr Johnson at the height of the pandemic in March and April last year – repeatedly branding Mr Hancock ‘hopeless’ over PPE and testing and suggesting Michael Gove would have to take over.

Downing Street has declined to deny that the messages are genuine, with the PM’s spokesman merely insisting he has full confidence in Mr Hancock.

Asked in a round of interviews this morning if Mr Johnson regarded Mr Hancock as hopeless, Mr Norman said: ‘I have no idea what the Prime Minister thinks about these matters.

‘I can tell you what we’ve been presented with is one side of a snapshot of a conversation, I have no idea if it’s true or false, in the middle of the worst economic, social and public health crisis we’ve had for 100 years.

‘So would it be surprising if the odd snapshot portrayed in a certain light gave a certain view to people?’

But later it seemed Mr Norman had rethought – or been told to rethink – his lukewarm backing for Mr Hancock.

‘I think this is some of the biggest nonsense I’ve heard,’ he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programm.

‘The Prime Minister obviously, as anybody would detect, is a massive supporter of the Health Secretary, he’s coming firmly behind him. There can be no question of loss of confidence.’

 

The traffic light system means those travelling into the UK from green list countries need only to provide a negative Covid test within three days their journey and take another test within two days of arriving here. 

But only a small handful of countries are on the green list, including Israel and Iceland, but none are traditionally major holiday hot-spots for UK tourists.

Most of those countries, such as Greece, Portugal, Spain and the Caribbean islands, are on the amber list.

Those returning from amber list countries must provide a negative Covid test before travelling, and then self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days on their return.

Arrivals from red list entries – who can only be UK citizens or residents – must isolate in a quarantine hotel for at least 10 days and provide two negative Covid tests. 

Mr O’Leary’s latest blistering critique of the Government comes after he yesterday accused the Prime Minister of doing too little for the travel industry, as he questioned why the jabbed could not go on holiday abroad.

Mr O’Leary said: ‘UK citizens, almost 80 per cent of whom will be vaccinated by the end of June, continue to face Covid restrictions on travel to and from the European Union, despite the fact that the majority of the European Union citizens will also be vaccinated by the end of June.

‘UK tourism and aviation needs a pragmatic travel policy, which permits vaccinated UK and EU citizens to travel between the UK and the EU without the need for quarantine or negative PCR tests.

‘This will at least allow the UK tourism industry to plan for what is left of the summer season and get hundreds of thousands of people back to work.

‘The UK’s Covid travel policy is a shambles. The Green List is non-existent because countries such as Malta and Portugal, with lower Covid case numbers than the UK and rapidly rising vaccination rates, remain on Amber.’

Meanwhile, the EU continued to make travel difficult for British tourists, after it widened its ‘white list’ to include the US – but not the UK – which allow non essential travel.

The whitelist will now reportedly be expanded to include Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Lebanon, the United States, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong.

It joins Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and China.

It comes after a leaked document gave a glimpse of the UK’s potential ‘new normal’ on Wednesday, with facemasks, working from home and travel quarantine rules set to stay even beyond July 19. 

The Whitehall paper suggests that the government will stop short of urging workers to return to offices even after the new target for lifting restrictions finally arrives.

There is also a suggestion that face masks will be needed in some settings long-term, as well as keeping post-travel isolation rules. 

Anyone who has coronavirus symptoms will still be expected to isolate, according to the draft proposals. And fears have been raised that more restrictions will be needed if the disease surges again in the winter. 

The document – seen by Politico – emerged as Boris Johnson’s crunch bill to delay the return to freedom passed through the House of Commons, winning 461 ayes and 60 noes.  

For now, limits on numbers for sports events, theatres and cinemas will remain in place, nightclubs will stay shuttered and people will be asked to continue working from home where possible.  

The latest move would also bring the UK closer in line with at least 33 countries including France, Germany, Spain and Greece that exempt vaccinated travellers from quarantine. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is said to be 'open' to the plan

The latest move would also bring the UK closer in line with at least 33 countries including France, Germany, Spain and Greece that exempt vaccinated travellers from quarantine. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is said to be ‘open’ to the plan

Downing Street said it did not recognise the Politico document and it ‘does not reflect the latest Government thinking’. 

Mr Johnson insisted to MPs at PMQs that the Covid rules were temporary. 

Responding to Tory backbencher Philip Davies he said: ‘Nobody, least of all me, wants to see Covid restrictions last forever, nor do I think they are going to last forever.’

In a howl of protest, bosses tell of panic and job loss fears amid yet more chaos 

Andrew Flintham – TUI

Unlike other European countries and despite multiple requests, the Government has refused to be transparent about the data requirements for green, amber and red destinations.

We must see the methodology so we can help our customers and plan our operations accordingly. There are destinations around the world with little or no Covid-19 cases and good vaccination rates, so we need to understand why these remain on the amber list.

John Holland-Kaye – Heathrow

Ministers spent last month hailing the restart of international travel, only to close it down three weeks later, all but guaranteeing another lost summer for the travel sector.

Everyone wants to protect public health, but the entire point of the Global Travel Taskforce was to establish a system to unlock low-risk travel safely. 

Britain is the worst performing economy in the G7, and in the week that the Prime Minister hosts G7 leaders to launch his Government’s vision of Global Britain, he’s sending a message that the UK will remain isolated from the rest of the world and closed to most of its G7 partners.

Johan Lundgren – easyJet

When this framework was put together, consumers were promised a waiting list to allow them to plan. 

Yet the Government has torn up its own rule book and ignored the science, throwing people’s plans into chaos, with virtually no notice or alternative options for travel from the UK.

This decision essentially cuts the UK off from the rest of the world.

Brian Strutton – Balpa (Airline Pilots Association)

This decision is a total disaster for the already fragile travel industry and is likely to lead to further airline failures and many more job losses. 

Any shred of public confidence is in tatters and the traffic light system seems stuck on red.

Tim Alderslade – Airlines UK

This is no way to treat passengers. The Government promised a green watchlist to avoid this very scenario of people being stranded overseas – where is it?

This decision just adds to the belief that ministers don’t actually want international travel this summer, and want to cut off the UK from the rest of the world despite the success of the vaccination programme.

If that is the case they should be open and tell us rather than leading us and our customers further down this painful merry dance, and put in place longer-term support measures for an industry now on its knees.

Paul Charles – The PC Agency

They are basically putting at risk tens of thousands of jobs across aviation and the travel sector, and not showing any signs of helping the sector to recover.

They seem to want to continue to create an atmosphere of fear among travellers, which is totally at odds with other countries. There are several countries which meet the criteria to be on the green list, so this is clearly a politically-charged decision rather than one based on data.



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