UK government ministers have confirmed this week that they are considering relaxing restrictions surrounding international travel for Brits who have had both doses of a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
As is being reported by the Telegraph, Sky News, and The Guardian, changes are being considered to the traffic light travel system under – where countries are graded according to their COVID case and jab rate to determine the need for isolation for travellers returning from them to the UK.
A government spokesperson has told Sky News that it is “working with industry for a safe return to international travel, guided by one overwhelming priority – public health”.
They added: “Recognising the strong strategic rationale and success of the vaccine programme, we have commenced work to consider the role of vaccinations in shaping a different set of health and testing measures for inbound travel.”
If the new plan is approved, it could mean that Brits who are fully vaccinated will not need to quarantine upon their return from some of the most popular destinations – including the US and several countries across Europe.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is said to be open to the idea, according to the Telegraph.
The relaxing of international travel restrictions for the fully-vaccinated may also help appease a furious air travel industry – with Ryanair and the owner of the Manchester Airport Group (MAG) having launched legal action against the government this morning.
Papers have been filed to the High Court to seek clarity over the transparency of the traffic light system amid frustration over the lack of green list destinations.
The current traffic light system is as follows:
- Green: Arrivals must take a pre-departure test and PCR test before their return to the UK – but will not need to quarantine when they arrive.
- Amber: Arrivals must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in Britain and take a pre-departure test, as well as two further PCR tests.
- Red: Arrivals must stay for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel, taking a pre-departure test and two further PCR tests.
Only a handful of countries currently appear on the UK’s “green list” for travel, where tourists are not required to quarantine once they return.
At present, Brits are being advised not to travel to “amber list” countries – which includes popular holiday hotspots such as Spain and France – as government guidelines state that they must quarantine at home for 10 days after upon return.
But the introduction of relaxed international travel rules could mean breaks to amber list countries would be permitted for those fully-vaccinated just as the summer holiday season gets in full swing.
Jesse Norman, the financial secretary to the Treasury, told Kay Burley on Sky News this morning that the government was “certainly looking at all the options here”, adding that: “We don’t want to get left behind by countries which may be adopting a two jabs approach if it can be done safely and if it can be done carefully and securely.”
He also admitted that the idea that under-30s – the majority of whom have only recently had the chance to get their first jab – would be discriminated against if travel restrictions were based on vaccination status was “certainly a consideration to be borne in mind”.
“Of course the under-30s do not have anything like the same vulnerability to the disease that people older do,” he added.
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