End to ‘British vaccine exceptionalism’ welcomed by travel industry

·2-min read
Jab or quarantine? Passengers arriving at Heathrow Terminal 5 (Simon Calder)
Jab or quarantine? Passengers arriving at Heathrow Terminal 5 (Simon Calder)

The imminent end of the anomaly that offers preference to travellers with British vaccinations has been welcomed by the travel industry.

Ministers are due to meet to extend quarantine-free status to European and US citizens who can prove they have been vaccinated.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “If the UK government agrees to allow in fully-jabbed EU and US citizens without quarantine, it would finally be the dawn of a consistent global policy.”

Since 19 July arrivals from “amber list” countries have been able to avoid self-isolation if they have been vaccinated by the NHS.

Unlike all other countries with similar “jab or quarantine” policies, the UK does not recognise foreign-administered vaccinations for the purposes of travel.

Vaccinated passengers flying from Spain to the UK face completely different rules depending on where they received their jabs.

Those with NHS vaccinations can skip self-isolation, and need take only one PCR test on arrival. Passengers vaccinated with the same AstraZeneca or Pfizer products abroad must quarantine for 10 days and take an extra PCR test.

The exceptionalism has been deplored by the travel industry and British expatriates hoping to return to the UK.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive, Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “This has been the cross-industry message and focus of lobbying for months.”

All incoming travellers must pay for a “test-to-fly” to the UK and a PCR test after arrival, typically costing a total of £100.

“Unlike the UK, other nations are already offering restriction-free travel for the fully vaccinated,” said Ms Lo Bue-Said.

The senior Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw, tweeted: “Only taken Johnson six weeks since Europe and America resumed travel to realise the UK has been ‘left behind’. Better late than never.”

While the EU is ahead of the world with its fully tested, multi-national digital Covid pass, the US has no coherent system of certification. It is not known what standard of proof will be required.

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