COVID-19: Double-jabbed holidaymakers returning from amber list countries won't have to isolate 'later in the summer', government plans

·5-min read

Watch: COVID-19 - Double-jabbed holidaymakers returning from amber list countries won't have to isolate 'later in the summer', government plans

Fully vaccinated people in England will be able to travel to an amber list country without having to quarantine on their return "later this summer", the government plans.

When the new exemption for those who have had two COVID jabs comes into force, the guidance that people should only travel to amber list countries for "essential" reasons will also be dropped, the Department for Transport has said.

It means that at that point, anyone will be able to travel to countries in the amber category - including France, Portugal and Germany - no matter the reason for their trip. Those nations, however, may set their own conditions on arrivals.

The changes are expected to come in phases, starting with UK residents.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said more details will be set out in July as the government explores options.

"Thanks to our successful vaccination programme, our intention is that later in the summer UK residents who are fully vaccinated will not have to isolate when travelling from amber list countries," he said.

"There are a number of questions that still need to be answered, but what we did want to do is let people know that this is something that we are actively looking at - but it won't be until later in the summer.

"And I'll be able to say more about it next month."

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Even when those double-jabbed are exempt from quarantine when visiting amber list countries, they will still be required to take a pre-departure test on day two, the Department for Transport said.

Announcing their "intention", the department also said Spain's Balearic islands, Malta, Madeira, and some islands in the Caribbean - including Barbados - are being added to England's travel green list.

Watch: Malta, Madeira and Balearics among additions to travel green list

The government's next update is expected to include rules around children and those unable to be vaccinated, how the scheme will work at the border, and the dates on which these changes will take place.

Ministers are awaiting a decision on whether under-18s should routinely be offered a vaccination. In the meantime, they are taking clinical advice on whether regular tests could be a safe alternative to quarantine for children accompanied by vaccinated adults.

Until all of the new rules come into force, the department said: "All passengers, whether vaccinated or not, must continue to abide by quarantine rules for returning to the UK from an amber list country, and it is recommended that people should not travel to amber list countries at the moment."

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said the aviation sector will work with the government to ensure the policy is introduced "as soon as possible".

"It is very positive news that ministers are following the science and that fully vaccinated people will be able to travel safely without quarantine later this summer," he said.

"We are a cosmopolitan country, a small island with strong links to the rest of the world. Exporters want to get out and sell their goods to the world, families want to reconnect after a year of separation. We will work with the government to make this happen as soon as possible and let Britain fly!"

Boris Johnson gave a clue about the changes earlier on Thursday when he said that a relaxation of travel rules for those who have received coronavirus jabs was on the horizon.

There is a "real opportunity" to "open up travel through the double jab", the prime minister said.

It comes after the government announced on Wednesday that three in five adults across the UK have now received two doses of a vaccine, with all over-18s in all parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland now eligible to book appointments.

"We've got more than 60% of our [adult] population that have now had two jabs, 83% have had one jab," Mr Johnson said.

"We're really getting through it now. The crucial thing is to come forward and get your second jab.

"I'm not going to claim that this summer for travel purposes is going to be like any summer.

"I don't want to cast a pall over things, but as I said the other day, it will be different."

Watch: COVID-19 - Travel firms report increased demand despite caution over holiday rules

Updating their travel guidance earlier on Thursday evening, the Scottish government said a decision on whether those who have received two vaccine doses could be exempt from quarantine restrictions when returning from amber list countries would not be made "immediately".

Scottish cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport Michael Matheson said: "From the outset we have said caution is required regarding international travel and people should think very carefully about travelling abroad as situations can suddenly change."

He added: "We continue to work closely with the other home nations and are cautiously supportive of exploring options for the easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from countries on the amber list - but only if the clinical advice supports it and if systems are in place to ensure the wider safety of the Scottish population."

Meanwhile, according to government data, the UK has reported 16,703 new COVID-19 cases and another 21 coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period.

A total of 43,656,327 first jabs have been administered in the UK, while 31,908,103 people have been fully vaccinated.

Earlier on Thursday, Public Health England said that cases of COVID continue to rise in all parts of the country.

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