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Fully vaccinated travellers from EU and US won’t have to quarantine on arrival in England

Written by on 27/07/2021

Fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and the US will be able to avoid quarantining when they arrive in England, a government source has confirmed.

US citizens must have a vaccine card proving their full vaccination to be exempt, while EU citizens need to possess the bloc’s “green pass” showing their vaccination status to be exempt from isolation.

The announcement came after a COVID Operations meeting on Wednesday which was attended by senior Cabinet ministers.

The move to the amber list means UK tourists should not visit the country and returnees must isolate for 10 days.
Image: Airlines are pushing for an easing of travel rules

More details will be released later, the source added.

Airlines had been putting pressure on the government to exempt fully-vaccinated Americans and EU visitors from quarantine on their arrival to the UK.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport all claimed a recent trial had demonstrated how international travel could safely be opened up further.

They said a 10-day pilot scheme proved that the COVID vaccination status of travellers from amber list countries can be efficiently and accurately checked away from the border.

More on Covid-19

Currently, those arriving in the UK from amber list locations – which includes the US and much of the EU – must have had both doses of a coronavirus jab as part of the UK’s own vaccination programme to avoid the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days.

However, the government has committed to a review of international travel rules by the end of this month.

Speaking after visiting an AstraZeneca manufacturing site in Oxford on Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said a decision on the matter “will be made shortly”.

And Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on LBC that ministers are talking to their United States counterparts about a potential travel corridor between the two countries, adding that he wants American citizens to be able to come to Britain “freely” as they did before the pandemic.

A British Airways plane lands at Heathrow in London, as new quarantine measures for international arrivals come into force.
Image: Therese Coffey said ‘no decision’ has been made on potentially exempting fully-jabbed EU and American visitors from isolation rules when they arrive in the UK

But deputy leader of the Labour Party Angela Rayner described the potential move as “reckless”.

“We know that the Delta variant came into this country and delayed the lifting of some of the restrictions and caused infections here,” she told Kay Burley on Sky News.

“We need to make sure that we have got a proper data-driven analysis and that we look at an international passport for vaccines.

“And we also know that people who have had the vaccine of course can still get the virus so a testing regime is very important and crucial as well.

Passengers queue at check-in desks at Gatwick Airport
Image: Labour said the government needs to announce a ‘robust strategy for opening our borders that is underpinned by data’

“So I am very concerned about the government’s announcement via the press this morning.”

And shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds warned that “safety has to come first”.

“The last thing our country needs is to be exposed to yet more dangerous variants – repeating the fiasco that allowed the Johnson variant to cause such damage,” he said in a statement.

“Throughout the pandemic the government’s border policy has been reckless and dangerous. Labour have been consistently calling for progress on a globally recognised international passport scheme – working with the EU and US to get travel moving again – as well as proper quarantine measures, consistent testing at airports and an overhaul of the traffic light system.

“All too often changes have been chaotic, badly planned and dangerous, causing confusion for the industry and travellers. We need a robust strategy for opening our borders that is underpinned by data.

“This needs to be done correctly or all the sacrifices the public have made could be put at risk.”

Under the pilot scheme held by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport, around 250 fully-vaccinated passengers on selected flights from New York, Los Angeles, Jamaica and Athens earlier this month presented their COVID status using paper or digital formats before boarding a plane.

Some 99% of their documents were verified as authentic, with just two passengers’ credentials rejected.

In one case there was a discrepancy between the name on their vaccine card and the name on their passport, while another involved someone who had been fully-vaccinated less than 14 days before travel.

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British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said the trial provided “the evidence the government needs” to allow fully-vaccinated visitors from low-risk countries to enter the UK without needing to quarantine.

“The UK needs to safely reopen its borders as soon as possible to ensure loved ones can reunite, business can thrive and global Britain is able to take advantage of the UK’s world-leading vaccination programme,” he added.

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: “The vaccine has been a miracle of science, and these trials have shown that we can allow fully-vaccinated passengers from the EU and US to visit the UK without quarantine.

“There is now no reason to delay with rolling out the solution from July 31.”

Some cabinet ministers are suggested to be concerned that London could lose out to other tourist locations in Europe now that many EU countries are offering quarantine-free travel to fully vaccinated Americans.

 Sky News

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