Amber list travel quarantine 'could be dropped for fully jabbed Brits'

Summer holidays to Europe and US are back ON! Brits with two Covid jabs will be able to fly to amber list countries without quarantining on return under new plan

  • Ministers are reportedly looking at new rules which will allow quarantine-free travel from amber-list countries
  • Currently, those who travel back from amber list countries, such as Greece, have to self-isolate on their return
  • But, according to the Telegraph, under a new system double-jabbed Britons will no longer have to self-isolate 
  • It comes as US chief medical advisor says Britons might be able to travel more freely to US by end of summer 
  • Dr Anthony Fauci claimed Britain could find itself in a ‘very favourable position’ thanks to the June 21 delay 

Fully vaccinated Britons could be given the green light to travel to amber list countries without having to quarantine on their return, under new plans reportedly being considered by ministers.

In what would be a huge boost to British holidaymakers and the UK travel industry, the Government is said to be looking at updating holiday rules to allow those who are double-jabbed to return from amber list countries without having to self-isolate.

Currently, those travelling from countries on the amber list, which includes top holiday destinations such as Portugal, Spain and Greece, are required to self-isolate on their arrival in the UK.

But, under the new plans reported in the Telegraph today, those who have double-jabbed will be allowed to follow green list guidance – which means they will have to take tests before and after travelling home.

Such a plan will open up the possibility of quarantine-free travel to most major holiday destinations in Europe and the US.

It comes as, in a further boost to the travel industry, America’s chief medical advisor says Britons might be able to travel more freely to the US by the end of summer.

But in a sign of frustration among industry leaders over continuing restrictions, outspoken Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary today launched a blistering attack on ministers who he branded ‘incompetent’.   

It comes as the airline and bosses behind three English airports are today set to launch a legal challenge against the Government in a bid to force ministers to reveal their reasoning behind where countries are placed in its traffic light system.   

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has fought for tough border restrictions, is said to be ‘open’ to changing the traffic light system, with the double-jab policy one of the prime options.

In what would be a huge boost to British holidaymakers and the UK travel industry, the Government is said to be looking at updating holiday rules to allow those who are double-jabbed to return from amber list countries without having to self-isolate. Pictured: People enjoy the a sunny day out at Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona earlier this month

The change could save summer holidays for many as Spain, Portugal, Greece and the United States are currently on the amber list. Under current rules, Britons must self-isolate for ten days on return 

Currently, those travelling from countries on the amber list, which currently includes top holiday destinations such as Portugal, Spain and Greece, have to self-isolate on their arrival in the UK. Pictured: A sign at Heathrow showing the current traffic light system

But, under the new plans, reported in the Telegraph today, those who have double-jabbed (pictured: A woman receives her jab at Belmont Health Centre in Harrow) will be allowed to follow green list guidance – which means they will have to take tests before and after travelling home 

Dr Fauci said we had been ‘quite fortunate’ that the Kent Alpha variant and the Indian Delta variant have been sensitive to the current vaccines

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary and UK airport bosses will sue ‘incompetent’ Government today over holiday traffic light system 

Ryanair and bosses behind three major English airports are today preparing 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 later today.

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.

It comes as outspoken Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary today 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.’

On the upcoming legal challenge, he added: ‘[We are] trying to force the Government to at least either a) be more transparent [over the traffic light system], b) publish what exactly the thresholds are at which international travel … will be allowed to restart.

‘Or c) get some injunctive relief against the Government generally on the back of vaccines that says the longer lockdown is restricting people’s freedom of movement.’

He later told Sky News: ‘It’s typical of Boris Johnson’s Government, just making this stuff up as they go along. There is no green list.

‘What we keep calling for in the travel industry is, now that we have 80% of the adult population of Britain vaccinated, why can’t those people go on holidays to Portugal and Spain without restrictions? They’re already vaccinated.’

The Government says ‘traffic light system cautiously balances the reopening of international travel with managing the risk of imported variants’ and ‘ensures we keep the general public safe’. 

A senior source told the Telegraph: ‘They haven’t definitely got there yet, but that’s the direction of travel. 

The plans are expected to be ready to be discussed by the Cabinet Covid operations committee. It is thought the plans could be discussed ahead of the next review of the traffic light system, which is due to take place on June 28. 

The source added: ‘It is still at an early stage and it is not clear whether it will be worked out in time for the end of the month. There is an awful lot to do. The devil is in the detail.’

The latest move would also bring the UK closer in line with at least 33 countries including France, Germany, Spain and Greece that exempt vaccinated travellers from quarantine. 

A Government spokesman said ministers were trying to use vaccinations to shape ‘a different set of health and testing measures for inbound travel’. 

It comes as America’s chief medical advisor says Britons might be able to travel more freely to the US by the end of summer.

Dr Anthony Fauci said it was a ‘reasonably good prediction’ to think that people could expect to have an easier time moving between the two countries. 

He claimed that Britain could find itself in a ‘very favourable position’ thanks to the Government’s ‘prudent’ decision to delay the June 21 Freedom Day. 

Dr Fauci told ITV News: ‘You really can’t tell because things happen, variants occur, things happen with regards to infection.

‘I think once they get more and more people vaccinated and get the people who’ve gotten a single dose to make sure they get their second dose, I think the UK is going to be in a very favourable position by the time we get to the end of the summer.’

But he also warned that richer countries must unite in an effort to help those who cannot vaccinate their populations, or another Covid variant could emerge and spread in Britain or the US.    

Dr Fauci said we had been ‘quite fortunate’ that the Kent Alpha variant and the Indian Delta variant have been sensitive to the current vaccines. 

When asked if coronavirus might be under control by September next year, Dr Fauci said: ‘I think in countries like the UK and the United States and other countries in the European Union, that will be the case. But it will really be solely dependent upon the degree of successful vaccination.’ 

Ryanair and bosses behind three major English airports are today preparing 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 later today. 

Dr Anthony Fauci said it was a ‘reasonably good prediction’ to think that people could expect to have an easier time moving between Britain and the US 

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. 

It comes as outspoken Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary today 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.’

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary (pictured) today blasted Government ministers as ‘incompetent’ in a scathing attack on its transport policy

 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 later today. Pictured: Holidaymakers queue up at a Ryanair check in desk at Faro airport

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.

 

 

On the upcoming legal challenge, he added: ‘[We are] trying to force the Government to at least either a) be more transparent [over the traffic light system], b) publish what exactly the thresholds are at which international travel … will be allowed to restart.

‘Or c) get some injunctive relief against the Government generally on the back of vaccines that says the longer lockdown is restricting people’s freedom of movement.’ 

He later told Sky News: ‘It’s typical of Boris Johnson’s Government, just making this stuff up as they go along. There is no green list.

‘What we keep calling for in the travel industry is, now that we have 80% of the adult population of Britain vaccinated, why can’t those people go on holidays to Portugal and Spain without restrictions? They’re already vaccinated.’

The Government says ‘traffic light system cautiously balances the reopening of international travel with managing the risk of imported variants’ and ‘ensures we keep the general public safe’.

However the London-based World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said the Government must scrap the system, which it says has ‘wreaked havoc’ among consumers and businesses, in order to save hundreds of thousands of jobs. 

The traffic light system means those travelling into the UK from green list countries need only to provide a negative Covid test within three days their journey and take another test within two days of arriving here. 

But only a small handful of countries are on the green list, including Israel and Iceland, but none are traditionally major holiday hot-spots for UK tourists.

Most of those countries, such as Greece, Portugal, Spain and the Caribbean islands, are on the amber list.

Those returning from amber list countries must provide a negative Covid test before travelling, and then self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days on their return.

Arrivals from red list entries – who can only be UK citizens or residents – must isolate in a quarantine hotel for at least 10 days and provide two negative Covid tests. 

Mr O’Leary’s latest blistering critique of the Government comes after he yesterday accused the Prime Minister of doing too little for the travel industry, as he questioned why the jabbed could not go on holiday abroad.

Mr O’Leary said: ‘UK citizens, almost 80 per cent of whom will be vaccinated by the end of June, continue to face Covid restrictions on travel to and from the European Union, despite the fact that the majority of the European Union citizens will also be vaccinated by the end of June.

‘UK tourism and aviation needs a pragmatic travel policy, which permits vaccinated UK and EU citizens to travel between the UK and the EU without the need for quarantine or negative PCR tests.

‘This will at least allow the UK tourism industry to plan for what is left of the summer season and get hundreds of thousands of people back to work.

‘The UK’s Covid travel policy is a shambles. The Green List is non-existent because countries such as Malta and Portugal, with lower Covid case numbers than the UK and rapidly rising vaccination rates, remain on Amber.’

Meanwhile, the EU continued to make travel difficult for British tourists, after it widened its ‘white list’ to include the US – but not the UK – which allow non essential travel.

The whitelist will now reportedly be expanded to include Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Lebanon, the United States, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong.

It joins Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and China.

It comes after a leaked document gave a glimpse of the UK’s potential ‘new normal’ on Wednesday, with facemasks, working from home and travel quarantine rules set to stay even beyond July 19. 

The Whitehall paper suggests that the government will stop short of urging workers to return to offices even after the new target for lifting restrictions finally arrives.

There is also a suggestion that face masks will be needed in some settings long-term, as well as keeping post-travel isolation rules. 

Anyone who has coronavirus symptoms will still be expected to isolate, according to the draft proposals. And fears have been raised that more restrictions will be needed if the disease surges again in the winter. 

The document – seen by Politico – emerged as Boris Johnson’s crunch bill to delay the return to freedom passed through the House of Commons, winning 461 ayes and 60 noes.  

For now, limits on numbers for sports events, theatres and cinemas will remain in place, nightclubs will stay shuttered and people will be asked to continue working from home where possible.  

The latest move would also bring the UK closer in line with at least 33 countries including France, Germany, Spain and Greece that exempt vaccinated travellers from quarantine. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is said to be ‘open’ to the plan

Downing Street said it did not recognise the Politco document and it ‘does not reflect the latest Government thinking’. 

Mr Johnson insisted to MPs at PMQs that the Covid rules were temporary. 

Responding to Tory backbencher Philip Davies he said: ‘Nobody, least of all me, wants to see Covid restrictions last forever, nor do I think they are going to last forever.’

In a howl of protest, bosses tell of panic and job loss fears amid yet more chaos 

Andrew Flintham – TUI

Unlike other European countries and despite multiple requests, the Government has refused to be transparent about the data requirements for green, amber and red destinations.

We must see the methodology so we can help our customers and plan our operations accordingly. There are destinations around the world with little or no Covid-19 cases and good vaccination rates, so we need to understand why these remain on the amber list.

John Holland-Kaye – Heathrow

Ministers spent last month hailing the restart of international travel, only to close it down three weeks later, all but guaranteeing another lost summer for the travel sector.

Everyone wants to protect public health, but the entire point of the Global Travel Taskforce was to establish a system to unlock low-risk travel safely. 

Britain is the worst performing economy in the G7, and in the week that the Prime Minister hosts G7 leaders to launch his Government’s vision of Global Britain, he’s sending a message that the UK will remain isolated from the rest of the world and closed to most of its G7 partners.

Johan Lundgren – easyJet

When this framework was put together, consumers were promised a waiting list to allow them to plan. 

Yet the Government has torn up its own rule book and ignored the science, throwing people’s plans into chaos, with virtually no notice or alternative options for travel from the UK.

This decision essentially cuts the UK off from the rest of the world.

Brian Strutton – Balpa (Airline Pilots Association)

This decision is a total disaster for the already fragile travel industry and is likely to lead to further airline failures and many more job losses. 

Any shred of public confidence is in tatters and the traffic light system seems stuck on red.

Tim Alderslade – Airlines UK

This is no way to treat passengers. The Government promised a green watchlist to avoid this very scenario of people being stranded overseas – where is it?

This decision just adds to the belief that ministers don’t actually want international travel this summer, and want to cut off the UK from the rest of the world despite the success of the vaccination programme.

If that is the case they should be open and tell us rather than leading us and our customers further down this painful merry dance, and put in place longer-term support measures for an industry now on its knees.

Paul Charles – The PC Agency

They are basically putting at risk tens of thousands of jobs across aviation and the travel sector, and not showing any signs of helping the sector to recover.

They seem to want to continue to create an atmosphere of fear among travellers, which is totally at odds with other countries. There are several countries which meet the criteria to be on the green list, so this is clearly a politically-charged decision rather than one based on data.

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