Senior cabinet ministers are to discuss allowing fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and US to avoid quarantine when they arrive in England. A review of the rules is due by 31 July - the second date in the Department for Transport’s plan for a safe return to international travel.
Sources said the isolation exemption was likely to be discussed at the Covid Operations meeting on Wednesday. But they said a decision on whether to proceed will not necessarily be taken.
Under current rules, other countries are granted a “traffic light” status for arrivals - red, amber or green. The vast majority of countries, including the US and many European countries including Spain, Italy and Germany, are on the amber list.
Adults who have been fully vaccinated in the UK, and under-18s, no longer have to self-isolate after visiting any amber country apart from France. But anyone who was fully vaccinated outside the UK still has to quarantine for 10 days on arrival, or pay for the test-to-release scheme to shorten their quarantine.
The travel industry has criticised the UK’s approach, with trade group Airlines UK saying bookings had failed to recover due to the “frustrating” traffic light system and costly testing requirements.
On Monday Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: “The UK is emerging from the worst effects of the health pandemic, but is falling behind its EU rivals in international trade by being slow to remove restrictions. Replacing PCR tests with lateral flow tests and opening up to EU and US vaccinated travellers at the end of July will start to get Britain’s economic recovery off the ground.”
Opening doors for international travellers in the middle of a pandemic is risky - vaccinations may mitigate the risk, but … there is a major loophole. The government has, seemingly, already started the process of “easing” travel, resulting in a “‘Staggering’ drop in sequencing of PCR tests to track Covid variants”.
Potential Covid variants are entering the UK unchecked as the rate of positive tests being genome sequenced from amber-listed countries has fallen to just 3% from 61%, official figures show.
Bearing in mind how quickly the Delta variant took off when BJ left the international back door travel open, it seems more than a little foolhardy to open the front door to any Tom, Dick or Harry with a vaccination form or QR code … :shock:
AFAIK, the US and France (in the EU) are still struggling to contain COVID and while the UK’s performance is still poor, theirs is even worse: