The prime minister confirmed in a Downing Street briefing on Monday that the government would “work with the travel industry towards removing the need for fully vaccinated arrivals to isolate on return from an amber country”.
Currently all arrivals from amber countries – which covers most of Europe – have to self-isolate for 10 days and take two post-arrival PCR tests, regardless of vaccination status.
Ministers are due to meet tomorrow to sign off the policy, according to reports in The Times and The Sun. Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that transport secretary Grant Shapps would provide an update on the issue later this week.
The lifting of quarantine for amber arrivals would coincide with the lifting of other restrictions in England from 19 July, including social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing.
A previous Department for Transport statement, released at the most recent traffic light travel review on 24 June, simply gave a timeframe of “later in the summer”.
The statement read: “In recognition of our successful domestic vaccination programme, and as part of the Global Travel Taskforce’s checkpoint review, our intention is that later in the summer, arrivals who are fully vaccinated will not have to quarantine when travelling from amber list countries.
“We expect this to occur in phases, starting with UK residents. They will still be required to take a pre-departure test and a test on day two, and any positive results will be sequenced to continue to manage the risk of importing variants.”
Tourism heavyweights France, Spain, Italy and Greece are currently on the amber list.
Just 27 destinations are currently on the green list, which allows quarantine-free travel for those returning to the UK. Malta, Madeira and the Balearics all went green at the last review of the traffic light travel system, although the Spanish islands’ status could be under threat due to a surge in Covid infections.
However, while double-jabbed Britons may soon be able to escape quarantine when returning from much of the EU, many countries across the bloc are tightening curbs on Britons amid a spike in Delta infections on home soil.
Malta, Portugal and Germany, among others, are only accepting fully vaccinated travellers, while last Friday Spain tightened its rules to require a negative Covid test for the non-jabbed contingents.
It comes as Heathrow airport, Europe’s busiest, says it will unveil a trial of fast-track lanes for vaccinated travellers.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic passengers checking in at Athens, Montego Bay, New York JFK and Los Angeles will be invited to prove their vaccination status before boarding their planes.
In total, several hundred people each day could take part in the Heathrow trial. The option will allow them to join a special arrival queue, though they will still need to comply with all the rules for amber list countries – including multiple tests and self-isolation at home.