Double-jabbed Brits could fly to amber list countries from next month
Double-jabbed British holidaymakers could be able to go abroad to nearly 170 countries from next month with vaccine passports
- Those fully vaccinated will show evidence via the NHS app at border controls
- They can then travel to amber list nations without having to isolate upon return
- Portugal, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the US are among those destinations
Double-jabbed British holidaymakers could be given the green light to fly to nearly 170 countries from next month under new government plans.
Those who are fully vaccinated will provide evidence via the NHS app at border controls and then be able to enjoy trips to amber list nations without having to isolate for 10 days upon returning home.
Huge numbers of tourists had to scramble home from Portugal earlier this month in order to beat the quarantine deadline when it was dramatically taken off the green list.
Some 168 destinations are currently on the amber list, including popular holiday spots like Portugal, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the United States.
Ministers are still discussing the plans at this early stage, but Boris Johnson could rubber-stamp them in time for millions of lockdown-weary Britons to jump on flights in July.
The idea would see travellers obliged to take several PCR tests on their return, but if they come back negative, they won’t have to remain stuck in their homes like under current rules.
British tourists at Portgual’s Faro Airport as they were forced to interrupt their holidays in the Algarve to return home earlier this month
Treasury Secretary Jesse Norman yesterday hinted proposals are in motion, saying: ‘We don’t want to get left behind by countries which may be adopting a two-jab approach if it can be done safely, carefully and securely.’
But a Whitehall source has now suggested the scheme is being accelerated, telling the Sun: ‘I don’t think we can wait for a long time if it is something that we want to do.’
The plans are not likely to affect existing rules on red list countries, such as India and Turkey, which require those returning to Britain to quarantine in hotels.
However, there are concerns about an age divide, with the vast majority of older travellers likely to have received both jabs, while younger holidaymakers may have only received one, or not even that, with 18-and-19-year-olds, for example, only invited to book a first dose this week.
‘We don’t want to see the oldies getting into fights with youths at the airport,’ a source said.
So far, more than 42 million first doses have been administered while more than 30 million have received both jabs.
The plans are expected to be ready for discussion by the Cabinet’s Covid operations committee ahead of a June 28 deadline by which ministers have pledged to review the traffic light system.
Officials are reportedly discussing how the move would affect those who cannot be vaccinated, whether under-18s should be exempt and whether it would apply to Britons or all arrivals.
Demand for air travel collapsed in March last year when the UK went into lockdown in response to the crisis, with the Government now under pressure to restart international travel by the battered tourism industry.
Bosses of the travel industry are furious that Portugal, which was originally on the green list, was suddenly put on the amber list within weeks.
They also believe that the Balearic and Greek Islands should have been included on the green list. The Balearic island, Majorca, for example, currently has a lower Covid rate than the UK.
It comes as Ryanair and bosses behind three major English airports prepare 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.
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.
Outspoken Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary yesterday 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.’
Top European resorts including Spain and Turkey are ‘unlikely to be added to the green list before August’
Top European resorts are unlikely to be added to the green list ‘before August’, foreign tourism chiefs have reportedly been told, leaving millions of Britons facing another summer without a holiday abroad.
UK ambassadors are said to have warned foreign tourism bosses that the return of British travellers to traditional holiday hot-spots such as Spain and Turkey will be pushed back until later this summer.
It comes as holiday firm TUI announced yesterday that it was axing more of its trips to top European holiday destinations up until July.
And one travel expert warned that July was now being regarded as a ‘white-wash’ for industry bosses.
Despite this, some firms are reporting a spike in demand for flights to Gibraltar, Israel and Iceland – which are all currently on the UK’s green list.
The latest travel set-back will be a particular blow to traditional holiday destinations – including the likes of Portugal, Greece France – which are currently on the UK’s amber list.
Toni Mayor, head of the Hosbec association of Valencia region hoteliers, said he did not expect to see the bulk of UK tourism take off until August, according to the Telegraph.
His comments come after a meeting with Hugh Elliott, who has been the UK’s Ambassador to Spain and non-resident Ambassador to Andorra since 2019.
Meanwhile, tourism chiefs in Turkey are also understood to have received a similar message, after a meeting with UK Foreign Office officials, the Telegraph adds.
The news has sparked concern within the industry. Some now fear July – one of the busiest and most profitable months of the summer holiday season – will now be a blow-out for the travel industy.
Travel expert Paul Charles, CEO of the PC Agency, said travel firms have already written off July as a return for summer holidays.
‘July is a white-wash,’ he told MailOnline.
‘Most firms are now looking beyond that, so it will be August that they will be looking at for the restart.’
Mr Charles said the decision to push back green-listing countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal at one of the busiest points of the summer holiday season could result in ‘billions of pounds in losses’ for the industry.
He said: ‘The travel industry does around half of its business in summer.
‘So I would say the losses will run into the billions, when you take into account refunds and loss of sales. You’ve also got the cost of moving the planes to be parked and the cost of staff and running the business itself.’
Mr Charles called on the Government to set a firm date for the full return of international travel.
‘They have set July 19 as the date for ending of domestic restrictions, the Government needs to set a date, perhaps July 31, when travel will be restored.
‘It needs to give confidence in the sector or there will be more companies that go under and job losses.’
Meanwhile, figures from Skyscanner, and reported in the Times, show how holidaymakers are rushing to book flights to holiday destinations on the green list.
Flights to Gibraltar have seen a 115 per cent increase in seats sold at the beginning of July, compared to the previous week.
EasyJet, Wizz Air, British Airways and Eastern Airways have all reportedly put on extra flights to Gibraltar to meet the demand.
There has also been a 40 per cent increase in demand for flights to Iceland.
Both are currently on the UK’s travel green list, meaning tourists can return from these countries without having to quarantine.
Those returning from amber list countries, such as Portugal, Spain, Greece and America, all face a 10-day period of self-isolation and two negative PCR-tests on arrival in the UK.
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